Important Bird Areas

Comstock-Germania Bog

Wisconsin

This IBA encompasses Germania Marsh State Wildlife Area and Comstock Bog-Meadow State Natural Area. The site is characterized by flat, open basins, with complex mosaics of sedge meadow, wet prairie, and open bog. Surrounding these wetland habitats are oak barrens and oak forest. Tamaracks are found at the edges of some of the wetland sections. At Germania, some constructed dikes have impounded water, and the flowages that resulted have a richer sedge flora. This site, along with White River Marsh a few miles to the east, holds the most extensive sedge meadow habitat in the southern half of Wisconsin. Management also protects the savanna and barrens habitats at the periphery of these wetlands. Vegetative cover types found here include: southern sedge meadow, wiregrass sedge meadow, wet prairie, open bog, oak barrens and forest, along with some planted grassland and cropland.

Ornithological Summary

The Yellow Rail population at Comstock/Germania Bog, along with the one at nearby White River Marsh, represents the southernmost known breeding location for this species in the state (Howe 2006). Excellent sedge meadow and wet prairie habitats support American Bittern, Northern Harrier, Sedge Wren, Henslow?s Sparrow, and Le Conte?s Sparrow, among others. A variety of shrub and savanna species also are found here, among them Black-billed Cuckoo, Willow Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, and Blue-winged Warbler. This site is an important concentration area for Sandhill Cranes in the fall, with thousands of birds utilizing the wetlands and grasslands for staging. Rare species found here recently include Long-eared Owl and King Rail (D. Christensen pers. comm. 2007).

Conservation Issues

Comstock/Germania Bog, along with White River, is a top-priority site for the management and conservation of sedge meadow and wet prairie species (Sample and Mossman 1997). Protecting sedge meadows from altered hydrology, invasive species, and woody succession should be a management priority. Current management is controlling woody species through prescribed burns, mowing, and cutting. Woody shrubs have expanded dramatically in the Germania Marsh portion of the site, and managers will be targeting these shrub rows for removal, with particular emphasis on invasive shrubs such as autumn olive, bush honeysuckle, common and glossy buckthorns, and Siberian pea. Managers also have begun savanna restoration work on the Comstock Bog portion of the site (J. Holzwart pers. comm. 2007). Monitoring key species and habitats to ensure that diversity is being maintained is important, particularly for species such as Yellow Rail, which are high priority but difficult to detect and therefore poorly monitored.