Big Birds and Prairies

We decided, due to the lack of mask wearing in Wisconsin, that we would enjoy outdoor activities only while in Dane County. For the first part of the week it was in the 90’s and there was a heat advisory. We went swimming at Governor Nelson State Park on Lake Mendota. The swimming area was a little mucky and the park seemed a bit unkept, but the good thing was that on that weekday there was only one other family at the swimming area.

Governor Nelson State Park

In the parking lot when we were leaving , we were excited to see a pair of Sandhill Cranes , which we had never seen before. They are impressively large and did not seem bothered by us in close proximity at all. I learned that they mate for life and can live several decades, so they are often seen in pairs.

Once the weather cooled off, we decided to visit the University of Wisconsin- Madison Arboretum. The arboretum is known for their 85 year experiment in restoring abandoned farm land to native prairie. The idea for the prairie restoration is credited to Aldo Leopold, the famous conservationist, who was a professor at University if Wisconsin. To our surprise, the prairie just looked to us like an overgrown, unmanaged field you might find in Tompkins County. We realized our ideas of the what a prairie should look like came from old western movies and was not real, along with most everything else about those movies.

John is considering turning some of our lawn into a mini-prairie with native species, but no bison!

One thing we discovered that prairies and our field have in common is the Wild Turkey.

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