World in a Marsh

Before you lies a cattail marsh, an important habitat for Red-winged Blackbirds, Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, American Bitterns, Painted Turtles, and Muskrats. Marshes are dominated by Cattails, whose roots form a floating mat. Each year spring waters flood the marsh, bringing a flush of nutrients. The non-native Narrow-leaved Cattail is common here, and hybridizes with the native Broad-leaved Cattail, making species identification tricky. As a marsh ages and the mat thickens, shrubs such as Red Osier Dogwood, Speckled Alder, and willows invade the cattail mat, providing nest sites for Alder Flycatchers and Yellow Warblers. This marsh is transitioning from marsh into a shrub-dominated swamp.