Protect, restore, and improve the highest quality natural communities in Wisconsin.
Erect or low bindweed
Wild strawberry (northern sands)
Pasque flower (seeds)
Blue flag iris
Cranberry (2 species)
Green-flowered shin-leaf (pyrola)
Northern wood sorrel
Yellow water lily
Bedstraw species (most)
Three birds orchid
Slopes on rocky limy soil
Sandy barrens or woods
Rare in talus and wet forest
Barrens and sandy oldfields
Wet meadows and marshes
Roadsides, edges, old fields
Open bogs, wet conifer forest
Open bogs, wet conifer forest
Sandy to mesic prairies
Sandy open areas
Prairies, meadows, open woods
Prairies, old fields
Swamps, thickets, deciduous woods
Alkaline wet conifer forest
Dry to moist woods
Edges of many natural communities
Rare in moist southern forests
Very rare in far southern savannas
Very rare in alkaline bogs
Dry to moist woods
Great spangled fritillary
Red-spotted purple (white admiral)
Virginia ctenucha (day flier)
Reversed haploa (day flier)
Spear-marked black (day flier)
Phlox flower moth
Rosy maple moth
Oak savannas in southwest
Wet meadows, streamsides
Barrens and bogs in the north
old fields, meadows in the north
Acid bogs and willow lined streams
Grassy openings in the north
Open wet meadows
Open wet areas
Woods, fencerows, suburbs
Water & curled dock
Willows and violets
Willows and violets
Locust and legumes
Iris, grass, sedge
Many types of tree
Many types of tree
Cherry, hazel, hickory
June 11 - 20
Racine has 15 hours and 20 minutes of daylight and Superior has 15 hours and 52 minutes of daylight at the end of the period. Southern Wisconsin gains 4 minutes of daylight and northern Wisconsin has 5 minutes more than the previous period.
Weather can greatly affect bird nesting success: An example is reprinted here as penned by the GNW ecologist for the Passenger Pigeon in 2009. Several locations in southern Wisconsin experienced unprecedented floods in 2008. Compared to other flood events in Columbia County, roads which were raised due to flooding in 1993 had higher water and were again impassable. Structures like the boardwalk at Parfrey’s Glen - built to withstand 1993 type flood events – were total destroyed and became a mangled mess miles downstream.
If the flood pulse at Parfrey’s Glen ripped out boardwalks, then the streamside nests of Louisiana Waterthrush were clearly destroyed. The water level at the confluence of the Baraboo and Wisconsin Rivers flowed over the interstate highway. Only the tallest shrubs remained above the water line. Any nests on the ground or in lower shrubs were lost. Low spots in fields and typically dry depressions filled to become lakes. Birds attempting to nest in these locales were unsuccessful unless their nest floated.
The list of bird species which had extremely poor nesting success in southern Wisconsin is indeed long. Moist grassland species such as Henslow’s sparrow, eastern meadowlark, and sedge wren must have had very poor productivity. Likewise shrub-nesting species, especially those along streams, such as song sparrow, gray catbird, common yellowthroat, and yellow warbler likely experienced a similar fate. Floodplain forest species that nest on or near the ground had poor prospects. Even species with floating nests, such a Forster’s tern, experienced total nest failure due to wave action.
These anecdotal observations still do not get at the question of how many birds and nests were effected. To do so, we must first get an idea of how much habitat is involved. The Wisconsin DNR has a wetland inventory which can be used to give relatively good approximations of the habitat acres of different wetland types. By looking at the data from a sample of the most heavily affected counties – Marquette, Green Lake, Fond du Lac, Columbia, Dodge, Dane and Jefferson – about 66,800 acres of narrow leaved persistent vegetation with water present much of the growing season is found. This long-winded definition is a close surrogate for cattail marsh and some types of sedge meadow.
Next, we must get an idea of how many birds utilize the habitat. To get a picture of the effects of the past summer’s flood, we will outline three species very closely tied to the aforementioned habitat for further examination.
Marsh Wren: This species is almost a cattail specialist, but is also found in dense bulrush stands. Fortunately, we have great local data from Horicon Marsh. Their studies found an estimated 13,000 singing males in the federal portion of the marsh. The mean density was 2.2 males per acre in the wetter portions of the marsh. Marsh Wrens are well known for the polygamous breeding strategy. Many males will have more than one female, whereas others will end up as bachelors. Regardless, male to female ratio is approximately 50/50, however, males will mate with more than one female, forcing some males to remain bachelors.
Nests are most often constructed 1 to 1.5 meters above the sediments. In nearly every case, the floodwaters of 2008 were well above 1.5 meters above the sediments. However, in some cases the cattail mats have the propensity to float with rising waters. No one has an estimate of how many acres of cattail habitat actually floated in 2008. Being conservative in estimates and surmising that the number of acres that floated was relatively low <25% of the 66,800 acres of habitat, figuring an average clutch size of 4.2 eggs per nest, and the 2.2 birds per acre, a total of 494,000 eggs most likely were lost.
Sora: This species is almost a wetland specialist, but also is found in drier portions of the wetland spectrum. Again, we have great local data from Horicon Marsh. The Horicon study found a minimum of between 4000 and 5000 birds in the federal portion of the marsh. An Iowa study found a mean of .58 birds per acre in the study site.
Nests are most often loosely woven structures found just above the water. In probably more cases than the marsh wren, the floodwaters of 2008 would have inundated almost all of the sora nests, especially since they utilize the drier portions which most assuredly would not float. There is no estimate of how many acres of sora habitat actually floated in 2008. Surmising that the number of acres which floated was even lower than for marsh wrens maybe 10% of the 66,800 acres of habitat, figuring an average clutch size of 9.4 eggs per nest, and the 0.29 female birds per acre, approximately 161,000 eggs most likely were lost.
Swamp Sparrow: This species is found in very dense numbers in cattail, but also is found sedge meadows, bulrush stands, and occasionally in reed canary grass monocultures. From data, we have data mean densities of .42 males per acre in the wetter portions of the marsh. Swamp sparrows are known for multiple breeding attempts per year with an average of 2.9 nesting attempts per female.
Nests are most often constructed anywhere from near the ground to 30 to 60 centimeters below the canopy. In nearly every case, the floodwaters of 2008 were well within in the canopy and many times completely cover all above ground vegetation. Similar to marsh wrens, nests were in floating cattails. Again, there is no estimate of how many acres of the cattail habitat actually floated in 2008. Surmising that the number of acres was relatively low <25% of the 66,800 acres of habitat, figuring an average clutch size of 3.9 eggs per nest, 0.42 birds per acre, and 2.9 nesting attempts per season a total of 238,000 eggs were most likely lost.
Using published data on just three of the species affected by the floods of 2008 over 800,000 lost eggs can be reasonably estimated. The ballpark estimate of millions of lost eggs is not an exaggeration. The impacts may be felt for years. Virtually no recruitment combined with annual mortality should result in many fewer wetland breeders in 2009.
Mid-June wildflowers: Mid-June sees the amount of interior forest species blooming decrease substantially, whereas open woods, prairies, wetland, and pong species increase. Some of the early species such as pasque flower are now setting seeds. The following table indicates some of the more common species to be expected on your ventures.
Table 1. Native Wildflowers with peak blooming times June 11 – 20
Lepidopteran activity continues: Plants in the woods and fields grow rapidly during June, thus providing food for many moth and butterfly species. Most of these species do best in summer and early fall.
Table 2. Large and more recognizable Lepidopterans whose flight period either starts in mid-June or is limited to this time period.
Fly Agaric: This mushroom is probably one of the most widely recognized species being featured on video games, Tintin books and Smurf movies. While pleasant to look at naturalists should not touch or especially taste this or any of the amanita species. With names like “death angel or destroying angel”, an observer should be quite wary. Several species of amanitas are found in the state and begin showing up if good rains occur in spring and early summer. All of the species have symbiotic relationships with trees and function as extensions of the plant’s root system. The study of species, like the fly agaric, will enhance scientist ability to understand the biochemistry of the woods.
Swimmers and divers can hear freshwater drum making their drumming sounds during their spawning period.
Red-backed salamanders are with their egg masses in shallow ephemeral pools.
Probably not a highlight, but this time period coincides with peak numbers of wood and deer ticks. These voracious suckers of blood can be found in the millions in extensive grassy areas in the north. It is not unreasonable for a person simply taking a two hour walk in grassy areas such as the Kimberly Clark Wildlife Area or the White River Wildlife Area could have over 100 ticks on the clothes and bodies.
Bullfrogs begin their jug-o-rum calls in deep marsh in the south.
Tamarack pollen reaches its peak abundance.
The pine barrens and dry pine/oak forests have whip-poor-will’s calling continuously all night long.
Fish species spawning in Wisconsin’s rivers and streams at this time are bluegills, green sunfish, pumpkinseeds, channel catfish and freshwater drum. Although, all of these species may spawn earlier or later depending on water temperature in any one given year.
Gravel roadsides and sand banks will see peak numbers of painted turtles nesting.
The first emergence of fireflies appears in low grassy meadows and backyards.
In the central Wisconsin grasslands, upland sandpipers are most active. They display most of the day and nearly all night, uttering their wolf-whistle calls every few minutes.
Common loon chicks hatch and catch a ride on their parent’s backs.
Shrubby ravines and fencerows in the area south and west of a line from Madison to Eau Claire should be checked for the presence of the rare Bell’s vireo.
If you are paddling on a large to medium river system, keep an eye out for one of our most colorful damselflies, the rubyspot. It can be found near these rivers, resting on emergent vegetation.
Two easily identifiable dragonflies can be found from now through July, the widow skimmer, harlequin darner, and the chalk-fronted corporal are denizens of ponds, streams and wet meadows throughout the state.
Several species of mayflies and stoneflies emerge on trout streams: sulphurs, gray drakes, brown drakes, hexagenia, blue-winged olives and giant stoneflies.
The short-legged shield-bearer katydid begins to utter its soft night-time, whisper buzz in forest starting in mid-June.
Many species of plant bug being appearing as the juicy host plants develop. Many of these species are host specific.