Wisconsin Important Bird Areas

Conserving the most important places for birds

Pecatonica River Prairie

Site Description

This site encompasses the upper reaches of the Pecatonica River watershed, a rolling landscape with a network of stream systems cutting through the hills.  Formerly the core of the largest prairie in Wisconsin, the site is now largely agricultural.  Significantly, large areas of prairie pasture and pastured savanna have retained the landscape’s extensive open aspect and importance to grassland and savanna bird populations.  Native prairie remnants, wooded savanna, pastured floodplain and sedge meadow, and cropland also are present.

Ornithological Importance

This IBA is one of three focus areas targeted for grassland bird conservation in the WDNR’s Southwest Grassland and Stream Conservation Area, a landscape-scale project aiming to protect functioning grassland, savanna, and stream ecosystems.  It harbors some of the best grassland and savanna bird populations in the state, including upland sandpiper, red-headed woodpecker, willow flycatcher, Bell’s vireo, brown thrasher, sedge wren, Henslow’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, field sparrow, bobolink, and dickcissel.

Pecatonica River Prairie, photo by Andy Paulios

Pecatonica River Prairie, photo by Andy Paulios