Wildlife & Habitat

Wildlife and Habitat

  • Black-crowned Night Heron

    Black-crowned Night Heron

    The black-crowned night heron is most active at dusk and night feeding in areas that other herons use during the day. These birds are common nesters on West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge in the lower shrubby layers of the island. Like the other wading birds that nest on the island, they must make the 18-mile round trip between the marshes and the island to forage and feed their young.

  • Great Blue Heron

    Great Blue Heron

    The largest of the North American herons, the great blue heron has long legs, a sinuous neck, and thick bill. The great blue heron feeds in the marshes of Lake Erie but must fly across the lake to feed the young in its nest. Their nest is a saucer shape made out of small twigs in the trees of the island. Herons nest in groups; these areas are called rookeries.

  • Great Egret

    Great Egret

    The great egret is a large white bird in the heron family. The great egret has black legs and feet and a yellow bill. Egrets nest in colonies with other heron species in shrubs and trees. They feed in the wetlands along Lake Erie, and like other herons, make the round trip between marshes and the island to bring food back to their young.

  • Mixed Habitat

    Mixed Habitat

    Most of the island is covered with trees. Tall hackberry trees make up most of the canopy, with an understory of poison ivy 12-feet tall. Great Solomon's seal reaches seven to nine feet in height, and a great variety of ferns, wildflowers, mushrooms, and other plant life abound. The island is composed of glacial fill over a limestone shelf. West Sister Island's rookery is a host for great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, black-crowned night herons, and double-crested cormorants. The water around the island is too deep for the wading birds to feed in, so they must travel an 18-mile round trip to the mainland marshes to hunt for food for themselves and their young.