Habitats of Tennant Lake

Tennant Lake is a shallow spring-fed lake in the process of change. There are many habitats around the lake: meadow,swamp, marsh and the lake itself. Meadows are mostly grass, swamps are wetlands with trees, and marshes are wetlands without trees Wetlands are important filtering areas for surrounding environments. Each habitat has its own typical plants, birds and animals that make their homes there. And these change with the seasons.

The slough that runs through the swamp and meadow is a wildlife highway, especially for aquatic rodents such as beavers and muskrats.

In the grassy meadows you will see paths that some wildlife use. Voles, long-tailed weasels, wrens and sparrows live in the meadows. In the swamp you will see alders and willows.

Over time, the lake is gradually turning into a meadow and becoming shallower. Wherever you see pond lilies, the water is no more than four feet deep. The marsh is turning into a swamp (you can see alder trees beginning to grow among the willows). The swamp is turning into a forest.

Beavers have had much to do with creating and maintaining Tennant Lake. The water level rises and falls depending on their engineering efforts—their dam building.

Beavers eat only plants. They make their lodges with willow branches, which they eat throughout the winter.

Out on the boardwalk look for small hills of mud, called “scent mounds”, which have been made by the beavers or muskrats. The watery canals used by many animals are also the result of beaver activity.

When you look out over the lake, you are likely to see bald eagles, coots, ospreys, swallows, ducks and great blue herons. Many creatures also live underwater, out of sight. Many others are active at night, but if you observe carefully, you can see evidence of them.

Here are some plants, birds and animals you might see on your visit. There are many more not on this list. See how many you can find:

Tennant Lake Plants

  •  Alders
  •  Willows
  •  Cattails
  •  Bulrushes
  • Water lilies
  •  Sedges
  • Pepper weed
  •  Sweet gale

Tennant Lake Birds

  • Marsh Wrens                               • Hummingbirds
  • Song Sparrows                            • Bewick’s Wrens
  • Virginia Rails                               • Ducks
  • Bitterns                                          •Coots
  • Eagles                                             •Osprey
  • Black Headed Grosbeak          •Red-winged blackbirds
  • Yellow Warblers                        •American Goldfinch
  • Cedar Waxwing                          •Chickadees

Tennant Lake Animals

  • Beavers                            •Muskrats
  • Voles                                 •Weasels
  • Frogs                                 •Insects