Declared a refuge in 1938 and a wilderness area in 1975, West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge is located nine miles from shore in the Lake Erie Western Basin. This 82 acre island is closed to all access to protect the largest nesting colony of wading birds in the United States Great Lakes. Tall hackberry trees provide nesting sites for great blue herons, great egrets, black-crowned night-herons, double-crested cormorants and more.
The refuge provides undisturbed nesting habitat for a variety of wading birds. Great egrets, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants and black-crowned night-herons are common nesting birds on the island. Less common are snowy egrets and little blue herons. As the trees covering the island matured the shrub loving black-crowned night-heron numbers decreased. The refuge began cutting trees each year to encourage sprouting, creating a shrub layer for these nesting birds.
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