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April 29, 2014

HORICON, Wis. - Department of Natural Resources wildlife management staff at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center have set up a nest-cam overlooking the property's great blue heron rookery and front and center is an active heron nest with at least two eggs.

Spring in Wisconsin means that native wildlife are starting to hatch and give birth to their offspring in a seasonal pattern as old as their species. Wildlife naturally seek protected and isolated places where they will be undisturbed and their young will be safe from predators making observation of this annual event difficult.

"This nest camera gives a sneak peak at one of Wisconsin's common wildlife species whose nesting behavior isn't easily observed," said Bret Owsley, DNR's Horicon area wildlife supervisor. "Also, this nest cam is a great educational tool for people who are interested in learning more about the trials and tribulations that a heron experiences while incubating eggs.

"The heron rookery on Horicon reached its pinnacle in the 1970s with an estimated 4,000 birds using the site," continued Owsley. "Over time, a combination of bad weather and Dutch elm disease caused the trees that supported the rookery to decline which resulted in a decrease in the number of tall sturdy trees the birds use for roosts. Wildlife management staff placed artificial nests, near the original location during the winter of 1992-93 consisting of telephone poles and angled slats of wood to bring the colonial nesting birds back. We repaired and added additional structures and took the opportunity to add the nest-cam this year."

Initial problems with providing sufficient bandwidth for a stable high quality video picture have been resolved and wildlife officials invite anyone interested in watching the show to link in. Many viewers have already found the new feature by word of mouth but the signal was frequently interrupted. With those challenges resolved, thanks in large part to work performed by AT&T technicians, the nest cam is ready for all people interested in wildlife around the state to watch the progress.

"We're confident the problems we were having with our signal have been addressed," says Owsley, "and we're ready for business and the stars of the show - the herons - are already at work, incubating eggs. It's really fun to watch and just a start to the improvements that are coming to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center over the next year."

The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between the towns of Horicon and Mayville on Highway 28. In 2015, the center will open a brand new "Explorium" in the lower level. The Explorium will feature interactive museum-quality learning exhibits tracing the human and natural history of the marsh from the time of the last ice age.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, Horicon wildlife educator, 920-387-7893 or Bob Manwell, DNR communications, 608-275-3317

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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