The lake was formed when it became cut off from the salt-water Yoldia Sea about 10,000 years ago. During the nineteenth century the water levels of many lakes were lowered to gain more agricultural land and the level of Lake Tåkern was dropped by 1.7 m in 1842-44. Since the average depth became 0.8 m the reed beds began to spread out, the water meadows became well established and the lake began to attract birds. Consequently it has existed as a bird lake for no more than 150 years. Now the whole reserve comprises 5400 hectares, mostly in private ownership with some parts owned by the State.
Lake Tåkern is one of the most important nesting and feeding sites in Northern Europe for many species of birds. During recent years a total of 270 species of birds have been seen at the lake and over a hundred nest here: e.g., Black Tern, Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Great Reed Warbler. Equalling the size of about 2,400 football pitches, the total area of the reed beds by the lake is the largest in Europe.
The water meadows at Lake Tåkern have been created by years of grazing and haymaking and extend to a total of 450 hectares. As these meadows are rich in lime they have a very diversified flora. Birdseye Primrose and orchids such as the Fly, Early Marsh and Musk Orchids flourish here. In order to preserve their biodiversity and to prevent overgrowth it important to keep the meadows constantly grazed and mowed.Great efforts are needed to maintain the man-made environment at Tåkern. The management is financed by Tåkernfonden WWF.