Marshes are wet areas dominated by sedges, grasses or cattails. They are part of the successional chain of events between a pond and dry land. Marshland is extremely valuable because it produces much organic material: a cattail marsh converts more solar energy into food and plant tissue than any other type of plant community.
Marshland is also important because it acts as a sponge. At the Nature Center, springtime flooding is often prevented because marshes absorb much of the runoff. Marshes also absorb nutrients from the water, improving its quality where pollution is a problem.
Many birds feed and nest in the marsh using the abundant food supply and shelter to raise their young. With the filling in of wetlands, many birds dependent upon water areas are decreasing in number.
The marshes at the Nature Center are relatively small but support herons, bitterns, ducks, shorebirds, and songbirds. Red-winged blackbirds are common nesters here. Marshes and other open land provide hunting ground for red-tails, broad-winged, harriers, and other hawks.
Next: The Pond