Pigeon River has grown from three NIPSCO hydroelectric impoundments donated to the state in the 1950s to the largest fish and wildlife area in Indiana today. Currently, the property is composed of 11,605 acres of land, which harbors 529 acres of lakes and 17 miles of free-flowing river. The area provides an interesting and diverse assortment of avian habitats, including a restored prairie, the largest tamarack swamp forest in Indiana, mature deciduous and second-growth woodlands, pine plantations, brushy fields, agricultural fields, 19 lakes and ponds, marshes (plus a fen - a rarity in Indiana), and riparian corridors. Consequently, Pigeon River FWA provides excellent habitat for migratory congregations of waterfowl as well as nesting cranes, rails, and bitterns, and a variety of passerines.
The eastern section of Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area includes prairie, old growth forest, Beaver Dam Lake, and the Tamarack Bog Nature Preserve. The western section of the property features Nasby Overlook Praire, the Curtis Trout Station hatchery, and Mongoquinong Nature Preserve.
Given the property's large size and the diverse amount of habitiats within its borders, Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area supports several bird species of conservation concern during the breeding season as well as congregations of wading birds (such as herons and cranes) and waterfowl during migratory periods. To date, an approximate 220 bird species have been recorded on the property.
Several species of threatened waterbirds nest in the wetlands at Pigeon River - Least Bittern, Virginia Rail, and Common Moorhen all have been recorded during the breeding season. Typically, only one or two individuals for each species are seen during the summer, although a nesting pair of either LEBI or COMO may constitute 1% of Indiana's breeding population for these birds. In addition, Sandhill Cranes, a species listed as endangered for the state by IDNR, nests on the property; it's estimated that 3 or 4 pairs inhabit the area during the summer. During the fall, Pigeon River becomes a staging ground for the cranes - an average of 200 to 300 individuals can usually be found during the peak of southbound migration.
Passerine birds also utilize the diverse habitats at Pigeon River FWA; during the nesting season, the property supports several species of conservation concern - Willow Flycatcher, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Blue-winged Warbler, and Hooded Warbler. The breeding population of Blue-winged Warbler is especially noteworthy as it probably represents the largest contigent found in northeast Indiana; the count of 17 singing males in May 2004 was exceptional, although a few of these birds may have been transients. Interestingly enough, the property also afforded Indiana its first confirmed breeding record of Alder Flycatcher in 2001.
Ospreys, a state-endangered bird involved in a reintroduction plan by IDNR staff, also nest at Pigeon River. Two active nests for these birds have been recorded since the summer of 2004. Raptor numbers during the breeding season are further bolstered by the presence of Red-shouldered Hawks (another state-endangered bird); it's estimated that at least 3 pairs nest on the property.
Pigeon River FWA's 11,605 acres provide for a wide variety of habitats, including mature deciduous woodlands, second-growth forests, pine plantations, brushland, prairies, and a variety wetland types (including ponds, lakes, marshes, fens, and river/creeks).
The western section of the property features Nasby Overlook Prairie, Mongoquinong Nature Preserve, and the Curtis Creek Trout Hatchery. The Nasby Overlook Prairie is a 10-acre dry, upland prairie which overlooks the Nasby reservoir and dam. The Mongoquinong Nature Preserve is south of the prairie and lies along the reservoir, too. It is primarily a fen or wet prairie that is kept in a marshy state by the adjacent bluffside seeps.
The eastern section of the fish and wildlife area supports another dry prairie (Stayner Dry Prairie), Gannon/Stayner Lake, Beaver Dam Lake, Tamarack Bog Nature Preserve, an old growth forest, and several ponds with waterfowl observation points. The Tamarack Bog Nature Preserve is a 170-acre wetland and is the largest well-developed tamarack swamp-bog forest in Indiana.