The Waupee Lake IBA consists of relatively dry, sandy uplands interspersed with lowland swamps and small lakes in the southeastern corner of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest?s (CNNF) Lakewood-Laona Ranger District. The uplands are managed for forest products, notably pines, oaks, and mixed northern hardwoods. There are substantial areas of shrubby edges, semi-open woodlands, and deciduous forest, and a smaller area of upland mixed forest. A small part of the area is covered by upland conifer forest and mixed forest. Other important habitats include lowland conifers, lowland mixed forest, lowland hardwoods, emergent wetlands, shrub swamp, and grassland. This is a very diverse and accessible birding area, lying less then 1.5 hours north of Green Bay. Like many areas of the CNNF, much of it is ?under-explored? by birders.
This IBA was identified primarily for birds of shrublands and drier woodlands, including Black-billed Cuckoo, Alder Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Golden-winged Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Field Sparrow. It also contains significant areas of northern hardwoods that are inhabited most notably by Red-shouldered Hawk, as well as Least Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, and others. Lowland hardwood and conifer forests harbor Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Veery, Canada Warbler, and Purple Finch. Potential habitat exists for other ?boreal? species.
Management throughout this area emphasizes conifers, including both early-to-mid-successional red pine, white pine, and jack pine (particularly in the southern portion of the site), and late-successional natural origin pine-oak in the north. A significant portion of the site is protected as a Special Management Area and Old Growth (USDA Forest Service 2004). Forest management is compatible with bird habitat throughout this site. The presence of Red-shouldered Hawks in the upland mesic forests suggests that longer-rotation management of these systems is desirable, while drier areas with jack pine and oak can be managed as open or semi-open woodlands through relatively high levels of harvest and still provide direct benefits to target bird species. Lowland areas in this IBA, especially shrub swamps and lowland conifers, need to be maintained intact and protected from drainage modifications. The presence of Canada Warblers underscores the importance of lowland hardwoods, in particular. These birds do not require undisturbed conditions, but further study might be valuable in determining the most favorable land management strategy. The area has a high density of roads, and use of the area by ATVs and off-road trucks seems to be increasing; this has the potential to create disturbance in sensitive habitats.