The Curtis-Herschberger Wildlife Management Area is the perfect example of how prairie pothole restoration can work. This moderately sized WMA complex offers scattered patches of dense scrub in a rolling prairie grass covered hill setting between two diverse wetlands. Throw in a sizeable grove of mature trees and you've got on-stop birding in almost any season.
DIRECTIONS: North on US 75 for 4 miles from the City of Lake Benton to Lincoln County Road 15, Turn West on County 15 for one mile, then turn North on the gravel road for .75 miles to the access of the Curtis-Herschberger Wildlife Management Area on the West side of the gravel road.
This recently reclaimed area has a little bit of everything for those who want to explore. Two basins, Herschberger Slough and Curtis Lake seem inappropriately named by today's standards though with Herschberger Slough looking more like a lake, and Curtis Lake choked with cattails. Between them is an area of rolling grassland with a dense planting of deciduous trees along the slough and a smattering of the ever popular Eastern Red Cedar. Right next to the road is a roughly 20 acre plot of mature deciduous trees that are a usual stop for warblers in spring and fall, or a solid nest site for a Swainson's Hawk.
When water level are low in the slough several species of shorebirds can be observed; both Godwits, Willet, and both Black-bellied and American Golden Plover have been seen here along with the more common species. Curtis Lake, with its dense vegetation seems a likely place for a Least Bittern, and certainly is host to a variety of migrating waterbirds such as Virginal Rail, American Bittern, and Black Tern. Cattle Egret has been seen here in recent years as well. Baltimore and Orchard Orioles nest in the trees while Dickcissel, Clay-colored and Field Sparrows abound in the scrub and grasses.
Written by Roger Schroeder