The Quincy Bluff IBA is a unique area of ecological and geological significance. The site is characterized by sandy ridges, extensive wetlands, and seepage ponds located between Cambrian sandstone buttes and mesas that rise hundreds of feet into the air; three such formations, Quincy Bluff, Rattlesnake Mound, and Lone Rock, are included in this IBA. Wetland communities consist of extensive sedge meadows, wet prairie, open bog, tamarack fen, and flowages. Uplands contain oak barrens, oak savanna, oak-jack pine forest, and red pine plantations. Barrens and sand prairie grasses and many forbs are found here, and a number of rare plant and invertebrate species are present, including cross milkwort, Virginia meadow beauty, ringed boghunter dragonfly, and ebony boghunter dragonfly (WDNR 2007).
This site is considered an oak savanna core, with over 5,000 acres of actual and potential habitat available, and also harbors some 1,500 acres of sedge meadow habitat. These high quality natural communities support many high-priority species. Among them is a substantial population of Red-headed Woodpecker, as well as Whip-poor-will, Willow Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Blue-winged Warbler, and Field Sparrow. Sedge meadow species include Northern Harrier and an occasional Short-eared Owl, as well as Sandhill Crane, Sedge Wren, Swamp Sparrow, and Bobolink. Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo, Wood Thrush, and Ovenbird breed in the pine-oak forests. Several thousand Sandhill Cranes utilize the sedge meadows as a staging area each year in the fall. The bluffs and mesas are home to nesting Turkey Vultures, and Common Ravens are found here at one of the southern-most locations for this species in Wisconsin. Golden Eagles can often be observed here in winter, as can occasional crossbills and finches (Robbins et al. 2000).
This IBA?s size, diversity, and relatively undisturbed character present a landscape-level opportunity to maintain and manage a complex mosaic of natural communities and associated priority species. A large portion of this site is protected by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Wisconsin DNR as Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area. DNR has partnered with TNC and with private landowners to restore barrens areas, many of which are overgrown with shrubs, using prescribed fire. Woody encroachment is a danger to both wetland and upland communities, as are invasive species. Increasing development and road construction may impact water quality and hydrology in wetland areas. Residential development may also impede the use of fire as a management tool. This site would benefit from property-wide bird monitoring to better document populations of priority species.