WSO owns nearly 300 acres of important bird habitat in the state: 60 acres within the Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Management area of Portage County, and 267 acres in the Honey Creek valley of Sauk County. WSO’s ownership and sound management of these properties ensures their preservation for future generations. WSO has also conducted breeding bird inventories at Honey Creek and has recorded more than 180 bird species at the preserve.
WSO hosts regular work parties at the Honey Creek Nature Preserve to control invasive plant species, maintain the hiking trail, repair boundary fences, and maintain the nature center. Work parties will be announced in the Badger Birder newsletter and on website’s events calendar.
Prairie Chicken Habitat
In 1957, WSO purchased 60 acres of Greater Prairie-Chicken habitat in the Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Management area in Portage county. The land is now leased under Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources management and is actively managed through grazing and spot treating invasive plant species. The Greater Prairie-Chicken has experienced severe range contractions in Wisconsin over the last century, and is now restricted to four core areas. The Buena Vista Wildlife Management Area, where WSO-owned land is located, is one of the last strongholds for this species because of their requirement for large, open grassland landscapes. WSO is proud to be a partner in the conservation and recovery of this threatened species.
The Preserve is situated within the Baraboo Hills of Sauk County, one of the largest tracts of unfragmented forest in the Upper Midwest. The site is a narrow steep-walled valley extending from a tamarack and alder bog on the south to a picturesque waterfall and rocky gorge on the north. The wide range in topography supports a variety of community types, including upland hardwood forests, alder thickets, hemlock and pine relicts, sedge meadows, dry prairie, cattail marsh, and tamarack and hardwood swamps. The wide variety of habitats attracts many bird species. More than 180 bird species have been recorded at the preserve, including seven species of vireos and thirty-one species of warblers. Unusual nesting species include Turkey Vulture, Acadian Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, and Cerulean Warbler. Working with The Nature Conservancy and other partners, WSO will continue to provide high quality habitat for these species for generations to come.