Pheasant Branch Conservancy is a regionally significant natural area located on the north side of Middleton, Wisconsin. It contains a marsh with open water, springs, prairies, meadows, lowland forest, and wooded hills. These various habitats sustain a wide variety of plants and animals, including some that are threatened or endangered.
Visitors often hear or see deer, herons, frogs, Sandhill Cranes, ducks, geese, hawks, owls, and dozens of different species of song birds. Although surrounded on three sides by urban development, the conservancy provides a quiet refuge for bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts. Its unique resources also offer an outdoor classroom and laboratory for students of all ages.
The Dane County Parks Department, the City of Middleton and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources each own a portion of the conservancy, but this 550-acre natural area is managed as a single unit by city and county staff with the help of volunteers. The Dane County property at the northern end of the conservancy includes a prominent hill with a group of Indians mounds and an observation platform that overlooks the marsh. Southeast of the hill, another observation platform allows visitors to view one of two large sets of springs in the conservancy. Each day more than 2.6 million gallons of fresh, clear water flow from these springs into the marsh and Lake Mendota. The City of Middleton owns the larger, southern portion of the conservancy that contains a large open marsh, wetlands, lowland and upland forests, oak groves, restored prairie parcels, and open fields.