Osprey photo by Dr. James W. Munson
Osprey. Photo by Dr. James W. Munson.
Birding Trail #10 The Green Circle Birding Trail:
Erickson Natural Area/Koziczkowski Park

Area: 19.5 acres
About 0.5 mile of woodchip trails
Kozcizkowski Park off of Minnesota Avenue or at the Della Street cul-de-sac

Map: Click here to view a map of the park/natural area [PDF]

Koziczkowski Park (14 acres) and the Godfrey & Maybelle Erickson Natural Area (ENA, 5.5 acres) are hidden gems on the west bank of McDill Pond. To access the Park, take Minnesota Avenue north off of Church Street and look for the Park sign on the right. Parking is available as you enter or near the playground on the north side of the Park. The ENA is accessed by continuing north on Minnesota, turning right on Della Street, and going east until seeing the sign for the ENA on the right. You can park along the side of the road next to the sign or in the Della Street cul-de-sac.

In 2003 the 5.5 acre ENA was sub-divided for home sales. Members of the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS) mounted a heroic effort to purchase this land, primarily for migratory bird habitat. ALAS managed to put together a $308,000 package to purchase the land, then deeded it to the City of Stevens Point and now manages the vegetation on the property (predominantly tartarian honeysuckle [exotic] and black locust [invasive]).

ALAS has placed a kiosk near the playground area of Kozcizkowski Park, put in two boardwalks, and erected a sign at the entryway into the ENA. The kiosk explains the importance of the Park and the ENA for spring migrating birds. The south-facing shoreline of these properties hold waters that warm up more quickly than other areas along McDill Pond. Midge (insect) hatches occur along this shoreline, making food available earlier than in other areas. These insects provide vital food supplies for spring migrating birds, especially during days of snow or sleet.

The birdlife in and near this 19.5 acre site is extraordinary. A total of 171 species have been seen on, over, or from this property, 33 of which have been confirmed or suspected of nesting. This is a larger number of bird species than any other property of the same size in Portage County. Of particular interest are the 27 species of migratory warblers that have been observed on the property. A total of three Wisconsin Endangered Species have been observed on the property: Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Hooded Warbler.

ALAS has put up 15 nest boxes on the Kozcizkowski Park/ENA property. For the past few years, McKinley Center Elementary students have monitored these nest boxes. They have produced an average of over 70 fledged songbirds (bluebirds, chickadees, wrens, and Tree Swallows) in each of these years.

For the best bird watching, go out any morning from mid-April to the end of May. Start at the northwest corner of the Park; walk east to the shore of McDill Pond (check the island just off of the shore); walk back north to the power line clearing, check out the west side of the low, marshy area and look for the Osprey nest on the next set of power poles to the east; return to the path that goes east; cross the first boardwalk; walk to the north and check out the east side of the marshy area; return east to the walking path and follow it around the shallow lagoon and up on “Osprey knob” (Osprey nest should be directly to the west); continue along the edge of the Pond across the second boardwalk and walk out to the tip of the land under the power lines; return west along the path until you get to Della and turn right to walk down into the cul-de-sac; return to the ENA sign. On a good morning you can find several dozen birds on this one hour walk. Be sure to look for nesting birds at the many nest boxes you find along the pathways.

The Green Circle Birding Trail is sponsored by The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS)

The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society