Featured Species

The island continues to be the home to the largest nesting colony of wading birds in the United States Great Lakes. The most common birds nesting on the island are the great blue herons, great egrets and double-crested cormorants. These birds make their nests high in the hackberry trees that cover the island. Occasionally, little blue herons and snowy egrets also nest amongst the larger birds.

Another frequent resident, the black-crowned night-heron, prefers to nest closer to the ground in a shrub layer. As the meadow near the lighthouse grew with shrubs, this provided ideal habitat for the night-herons. As the area became covered with tall trees, the number of black-crowned night-herons declined. In 1997, the refuge began restoring the nesting habitat by cutting trees off at four feet above ground to allow the stumps to sprout and create the shrub layer that the night-herons prefer.

Herring gulls use the gravel beach on the island for nesting. There have been bald eagles nesting on the island some years. There are a variety of snakes that call the island home, mostly garter snakes and northern water snakes. Viewing of any wildlife on the island is limited to those on boats as all access is restricted. The herons and egrets that nest on the island are easily seen in the marshes on the shore as they must make this 18 mile round trip to hunt for food to feed the chicks in their nests.