June 28, 2015
Field Report #2
Wood Lake Nature Center & Shadow Falls
Wood Lake Nature Center is a 150-acre (0.24 square miles) natural lake preserve featuring freshwater cattail marsh and floodplain forest habitats. The lake is dominated by cattail, the most photosynthetically active species in the Midwest. During the 1950s, Wood Lake offered some of the best fishing in the area, but its water table was drained about 10 feet to make way for the nearby highway. Richfield, Minnesota founded the Nature Center in 1971.
Cattail (Typha latifolia) is often found natively growing in marshes in five out of the seven continents (it is an invasive species in Australia and Hawaii). If growing in clean water (as it absorbs pollutants), it is edible and has been used by native North American cultures for food and medicine. Another species found in the marsh is the wood duck (Aix sponsa). Male wood ducks have a green head with a distinctive purple stripe behind their red eyes, while the females are a duller brown with white eye-rings and a blue patch on their wings. Wood ducks nearly went extinct about 100 years ago due to overhunting. The nest of a red-wing blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) family may also be found in the marsh along the shore. This blackbird is one of the most abundant birds in Minnesota. The males are a jet black with red and yellow patches on their upper wings while the females are streaked brown with white eyebrows. Another bird, the Baltimore oriole
(Icterus galbula) may be spotted in the tallest trees of the wetlands and floodplain forest. Actually, they will probably be heard before they are seen, as they are known for their singing. The males have a black head and neck with a family orange underside while the females are mostly paler orange-yellow with just gray-brown wings. In floodplain forest, if looking closer to ground level (as they eat insects, worms, fruits, and berries), an American robin (Turdus...