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Heron and Egret Nests Increase on Strawberry Island in the Lower Menominee River AOC

Rookery surveys
Photo credit: Ecology & Environment, Inc.

(March 5, 2019) The Lower Menominee River AOC is the lower three miles of the Menominee River to where it empties into Green Bay in northeast Wisconsin and in the southwest portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Due to the loss of historic wetlands and localized toxicity caused by contaminated sediment, fish and wildlife populations and habitat were impaired. 

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funded many projects to improve these impairments, including one on Strawberry Island, home to a large breeding colony of great egrets, great blue herons, and black-crowned night-herons. The goal was to improve plant communities on the island to restore and maintain habitat for the nesting birds. Over four years and with the help of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Great Lakes Commission, and Ecology and Environment, Inc., invasive plants were removed while native seeds, shrubs, and trees were planted. Bird surveys during spring migration, breeding season, and fall migration have been conducted to monitor bird species diversity, abundance, and habitat use.  Rookery surveys, conducted with volunteers from the Chappee Rapids Audubon Society, have been used to monitor nesting activity on Strawberry Island.  The results show that nests on Strawberry Island have increased from 38 nests in 2015 to 64 nests in 2017.