Hotspot -- Lake Mills Wildlife Area--Zeloski Marsh Unit

Semipalmated Plover - Photo by Ryan Brady

Semipalmated Plover – Photo by Ryan Brady

The Zeloski Marsh Unit of the Lake Mills Wildlife Area is the latest in a series of successful Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) and Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund cooperative ventures between NRCS, DNR and conservation organizations like the Madison Audubon Society (MAS). Similar to the Turtle Valley WA, Zeloski Marsh is a former muck farm that was ditched and drained for growing vegetables and other crops. MAS acquired the property and donated it in 2006 to DNR. To date NRCS, MAS and DNR have filled over 2 miles of ditches, removed12 miles of drain tiles, constructed 3.5 miles of berms, planted over 600 acres of prairie and wetlands and constructed two parking areas! Restoration is largely finished and when fully filled there will be 800 acres of water in 4 management basin. In addition, DNR managers will be able to manage water levels to provide annual shorebird and waterfowl stopover habitat for all to enjoy. This property is very accessible as the Glacial Drumlin State Bike Trail runs through the north end of the property and walkable dikes circle most of the managed wetland areas.

Fun Facts

Number of species eBirded at the hotspot: 222

Featured Species: Migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, Common Gallinule, Virginia and Sora rails, Black Tern, migratory landbirds (May, Aug-Sept)

Rare/Notable Species eBirded: Whooping Crane, Black-necked Stilt, Snowy Egret, American Avocet, Red-necked Phalarope, Nelson’s Sparrow

Bar Chart 

Since the initial restoration, this property now contains breeding populations of most priority wetland bird species for Southern Wisconsin. Birders should expect Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Common Moorhen, bitterns, egrets, rails, Black Terns, Bobolink, Sedge Wren, Henslow’s Sparrow and many other species. In addition, early restoration efforts have already seen a tremendous migratory bird response. In the Fall of 2006 and Spring of 2007 birders and hunters have seen thousands of ducks, cranes and blackbirds using the marsh. In addition, one observer noted 18 Short-eared Owls on one October day.

The Rock River Coalition is organizing a monitoring program that will help to evaluate the restoration over time. One aspect to this monitoring is collecting birder observations throughout the seasons. As you go and explore this great area, please enter your observations into the Lake Mills Wildlife Area Zeloski Marsh Unit hotspot. This data will then be available to all who manage the property.

Zeloski Marsh SWABirders can access Zeloski Marsh at one of three points. The south parking lot is along London Road just west of County Road A. The east parking lot is at the end of Alley Road just west of County Road S. A third alternative is to bring your bike and bird from the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail! To access the trail park in the lot off of Finch Brothers Road off of County Road S.