Woodcock. Photo taken in Schmeeckle Reserve.
Birding Trail #1 The Green Circle Birding Trail:
University Trail

Length: 2.6 miles
Crushed granite trails, boardwalks, and paved roads
Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center (west) and along Wilshire Dr. (east)

Map: Click here to view a map of the trail [PDF]
Section Page: Click here to learn about this trail

The University Trail winds through Schmeeckle Reserve, a 280-acre reserve on the UW-Stevens Point campus with a variety of habitats. Nearly 220 bird species and 33 species of mammals have been documented in the Reserve. Schmeeckle is one of the sites featured in the Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail: Central Sands Prairie Region booklet.

Birders can plan on a leisurely one hour walk through wetlands, woodlands, and grassland prairie. The Reserve provides a unique opportunity for birders to walk through a cattail marsh with its elevated boardwalk system, with opportunities to see Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, or Willow Flycatchers.

Springtime brings abundant migratory species such as warblers, kinglets, and White-throated Sparrows. In the evening, one can listen for the “peent” of the woodcock and experience its joyous dance. In the summer, follow the trail through grassland habitat to observe a variety of sparrows such as Savannah, Grasshopper, or Vesper Sparrows. Eastern Bluebirds can be seen in the Berard Oak Savanna or along the woodland edge. The woodlands feature a mix of conifers and a deciduous forest wetland, providing opportunities to see Veery, Hermit, or Wood Thrushes gleaning food from the forest floor. The Pileated Woodpecker is a permanent resident which excavates large cavities in trees in search of food. Some other permanent residents include White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Great Horned and Barred Owls, and Ruffed Grouse.

In 2010, Moses Creek (ditched in the 1930s) and nearly 18 acres of wetlands were restored in the northeast portion of the Reserve. Wide boardwalks travel over portions of the restoration area, which include islands of large trees, peninsulas, and replanted wetland vegetation. As this area heals itself, watch for waterfowl and shoreline birds in the swales, woodpeckers enjoying the dead snags, and songbirds along the edges.

The northeast section of the trail connects the University Trail with the Moses Creek Trail with a walk down Wilshire Drive. This section is an additional one mile walk along a golf course and through a residential area that provides a variety of cover for birds. Nuthatches, chickadees, robins, woodpeckers, and Blue Jays are only a few of the birds that may be seen. The two small bodies of water on both sides of the road provide distant viewing of waterfowl.

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

The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society