Wisconsin Important Bird Areas

Conserving the most important places for birds

Leopold Reserve-Pine Island

Site Description

Located on the Wisconsin River between Wisconsin Dells and Portage, this IBA presents a diverse mix of land ownerships.  It includes a large private tract owned by Phill and Joan Pines; the Leopold Memorial Reserve owned by the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Sand County Foundation, and several private landowners; Pine Island State Wildlife Area (WDNR); the Baraboo River Waterfowl Production Area (USFWS & NRCS); and the Lower Baraboo River Floodplain Forest, a large tract composed of multiple small, private ownerships.  The IBA contains a complex mosaic of habitats that reflects its location on the boundary between the Central Sands and the Driftless Area: river sandbars and islands; floodplain forest; floodplain savanna and barrens; emergent marsh; sedge meadow; shrub swamp; restored upland savanna and prairie; and scattered agricultural fields and pine plantations, many of them being restored to native vegetation.

Ornithological Importance

This IBA supports assemblages of forest, wetland, shrub, and grassland birds, but is most valuable for breeding birds of open and semi-open habitats.  Priority grassland species include sedge wren, field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, Henslow’s sparrow, and bobolink.  Wetland breeders include blue-winged teal, black tern, marsh wren, and swamp sparrow, while black-billed cuckoo, red-headed woodpecker, willow flycatcher, and blue-winged warbler are among the priority shrub/savanna species.  Forest birds have overall lower opportunity here, but the IBA does support small numbers of yellow-billed cuckoo, wood thrush, veery, and cerulean warbler.  The best forest opportunity is on the extensive Lower Baraboo Floodplain Forest, especially for characteristic floodplain birds such as red-shouldered hawk and prothonotary warbler.  This IBA also is important as a migratory stopover for waterfowl and particularly for sandhill cranes which use the river islands in large numbers for staging and roosting in the fall.

Read more about ongoing collaborative conservation efforts at the Leopold-Pine Island IBA.

Leopold Reserve-Pine Island, photo by Mike Mossman

Leopold Reserve-Pine Island, photo by Mike Mossman