Pheasant Branch Conservancy is a gem of a nature preserve tucked away in the Mad-ison suburb of Middleton. This hike runs through a wealth of habitats, including oak savanna, prairie, sedge meadow, marsh, and lowland forest. It also takes in a very high hill right at the start of the hike and has numerous footbridges crossing Pheasant Branch Creek, which flows just south into Lake Mendota. The conservancy is a great spot for bird watching, with hundreds of species documented, both year-round residents and migratory birds.
Alongside the pond to the left, you may spot sandhill cranes, just one of the over 200 species of birds that have been observed in the park, including a large number of rare species like the Carolina wren and varied thrush. More common are waterfowl like duck, goose, and teal, as well as barred owls.
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