Illinois Scenic Byways
Illinois River Road Report
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Illinois River Road Birding
Whether you are looking for a casual Sunday afternoon in nature with your family or you are seeking to add that rare Hudsonian Godwit to your life list, the Illinois River Road is one of the most important bird migration routes in the Midwest! Eighty percent of the waterfowl who follow the Mississippi Flyway stop to rest and refuel in the backwater sloughs of the Illinois River. With more than 100 miles of contiguous forests along the bluffs there are dozens of species of woodland warblers. Shorebirds stop off on their annual flights from the north shores of the Arctic to the southern tip of South America. From small county parks that harbor nesting vireos to one of the largest wetland restoration efforts in American history where hundreds of great white pelicans feed, there is something here for all levels of birding!
Annual Birding Events
SUMMER HUMMINGBIRD FESTIVALS - The Illinois Audubon Society sponsors several hummingbird festivals throughout the state. This is a chance to see these winged jewels up close and learn more about feeding stations, migration and planting hummingbird/butterfly gardens. These are annual events held in mid to late August. Both Starved Rock State Park in Utica and Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria are hosts to annual hummingbird festivals each August. Please check the Illinois River Road Event Calendar or Illinois Audubon Society for details.
WINTER EAGLE FESTIVALS - Local chapters of both the National Audubon Society and the Illinois Audubon Society work together with other environmental organizations to host and organize Eagle Watching events, often with live bird of prey shows, storytelling, music, guided tours and talks by pre-eminent ornithologists. Always a fun, family oriented events! With annual Bald Eagle events occurring in Utica, Chillicothe, Lewistown, Havana, Henry, and other Byway communities, you're sure to spot Bald Eagles, as well as informative educational programs along your journey. Please check the Illinois River Road Event Calendar or Illinois Audubon Society for details.
On-line Birding Resources
The Illinois Audubon Society is the oldest environmental organization in the state. They host a wide variety of field trips and educational programs and helped to research and develop this birding map! Visit www.illinoisaudubon.org.
To see what the latest sightings are, where the rare or unusual bird was last seen or to post your findings please visit IBET (Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts).
The National Audubon Society has a great introduction to birding with articles on buying binoculars, selecting field guides and getting the most out of them, where to look, what to look for, and birding etiquette.
Cornell Labs at Cornell University is the best web site for learning more about individual birds, birding basics, bird ID, and getting involved in bird watching, the fastest growing sport in America! They also sponsor several citizen science projects in which you can help monitor and protect bird populations, including The Great Backyard Bird Count, and Project Feeder Watch.
And no bird watcher should leave home without the Illinois Atlas and Gazeteer maps by DeLorme that includes every little county road, all parks and the local topography. It is also recommended that you pick up a copy of Birding Illinois by Sheryl DeVore, (A Falcon Guide, Helena, MT 2000) Illinois Audubon Society.
Your search generated 51 listing(s).
Once a private duck-hunting club, the 2,247-acre Anderson Lake and adjacent 230-acre Carlson Lake were purchased by the state in 1947 and put under the auspices of the Illinoi...View Details.
An officially designated “Important Birding Area” (IBA), and purchased in the 1980's by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this 4,363-acre complex of freshwater mar...View Details.
Big Creek Park was the first property purchased by the Canton Park District for park development. A scenic drive winds through the park's gently rolling, oak-hickory-maple for...View Details.
So named because (legend has it) the area once served as a “blind canyon” where Indians ran buffalo for capture, this 298-acre park has long been a natural favorite. Much of B...View Details.
5. Camp Wokanda620 E. Boy Scout Road, Chillicothe, IL 61523
Camp Wokanda, acquired from W.D. Boyce Council of the Boy Scouts of America, offers a beautiful 316-acre woodland setting, including a lake for fishing. The camp, with dining ...View Details.
Acquired in 1970 by the LaSalle County Conservation District, the 333-acre Catlin Park (open May-October) is a mix of bluff land oak-hickory forest, chinquapin oak savanna, ma...View Details.
Owned and operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, this 4,480-acre site contains elements of several habitats: Oak-hickory forest, riparian forest, floodplain shrub, mars...View Details.
To promote predictable navigation of the Illinois River, the United States and State of Illinois in the 1870s and 1880s constructed locks and dams at Henry, Copperas Creek, La...View Details.
Peoria Park District's 740-acre Detweiller Park is a popular multi-use destination for folks who enjoy golfing, soccer, volleyball, hiking, birding, fishing, and boating. Detw...View Details.
10. Dirksen Park#1 Dirksen Park Road, Pekin, IL 61554
This 459-acre site is comprised of oak-hickory forest and open shrubland. Running Deer Trail, an extensive hiking/mountain biking/cross country trail, runs through the park, c...View Details.
The Donnelley/DePue State Fish and Wildlife Areas complex, home to a $1 million State Duck Stamp Project, is managed primarily for migratory waterfowl. Frank C. Bellerose, wor...View Details.
East Peoria's Riverfront Greenway project is a 1.8-mile walking/hiking trail along the east bank of the Illinois River. Beginning at EastPort Public Boat Ramp, the trail runs ...View Details.
Derived from an Indian name for ...View Details.
Managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, visitors can use the trails to go hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. No motorized vehicles are allowed. Farmdale prov...View Details.
Seven miles of hiking trails traverse bluff forestland and a restored prairie through this designated state nature preserve. Over 100 woodland bird species use the park as mig...View Details.
Located between Lewistown and the community of St. David, the 440-acre Fulton County Camping and Recreation Area includes 150 cumulative acres of surface water spread througho...View Details.
The Hennepin Canal was originally conceived in 1890 as part of an overall plan to connect the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico in order to facilitate barge shipping. The prob...View Details.
This 0.5-mile trail parallels the swift-flowing, translucent green waters of the Vermilion River in the town of Streator, which is home to Clyde Tombaugh, the only U.S. citize...View Details.
Located across the Illinois River from the town of Marseilles, the 510-acre Illini State Park lies along the northern edge of the “Great Falls” of the river, where a drop in s...View Details.
French explorer/cartographer Louis Jolliet first suggested the construction of a canal connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River (via the Illinois River) in 1673, bu...View Details.
Once used as a proving ground for Caterpillar Inc., this 340-acre site is a model for ecological restoration. Plantings of trees, prairie grasses and forbs are maturing beauti...View Details.
Jubilee College State Park is a 3,200-acre facility situated in the Illinoisan drift-plan, replete with rolling topography and the meandering Jubilee Creek. Visitors may see d...View Details.
Phone: (309) 446-3758Site Access: free; fee please call ahead before visiting
GPS: 40.81026, -89.81385 Map It!
23. Lakeland Park1200 Lakeland Park Drive, Canton, IL 61520
Measuring nearly 600 acres in size, Canton's Lakeland Park is a prime example of the possibilities involved in restoring ecological integrity to strip mining sites. Much of th...View Details.
Phone: 309-647-4702Site Access: free, fee for fishing & boating
GPS: 40.57854, -90.04823 Map It!
Initiated in 1925, the Marshall State Fish & Wildlife Area presently includes about 6,000 acres spread over 3 different units along 10 miles of Illinois River shoreline. All t...View Details.
Phone: (309) 246-8351Site Access: free; fee for camping
GPS: 40.95450, -89.42854 Map It!
Donated to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources by the F.W. Matthiessen family in 1943, Matthiessen State Park is comprised of nearly 2,000 acres of prairies, bluff an...View Details.
Approaching 900 acres in size, Mautino State Fish & Wildlife Area is comprised of a restored strip mine which has attracted a vibrant community of plants and animals to its fo...View Details.
27. McNaughton Park#1 McNaughton Park Road, Pekin, IL 61554
McNaughton Park's 850 acres contain some of the most impressive specimens of white oak in the entire Illinois River Valley. This mix of oak savanna and old growth forests is a...View Details.
GPS: 40.60426, -89.59933 Map It!
A pleasant surprise located just off the byway, Mendenhall consists of a complex of wetland pools separated by groves of bottomland hardwood, such as willow, maple and elm tre...View Details.
Dedicated in 1969, the 340-acre Miller-Anderson Nature Preserve contains a variety of natural communities, dominated by old-growth oak-hickory bluff forests and maple-basswood...View Details.
Area: DePueSite Access: free
GPS: 41.23922, -89.40031 Map It!
Established in 1816, Illinois' Old Indian Boundary Line ran from the southern tip of Lake Michigan down to the Rock River's confluence with the Mississippi River. In 1982, a ...View Details.
With a viewing platform, picnic and parking area, this small urban park provides a great place for viewing winter eagles. They also host an annual Eagle Census Festival across...View Details.
Area: PekinGPS: 40.57015, -89.65384 Map It!
This conservation district is composed of 5 parcels of wild-land each offering something different for bird watchers. The “home site” is a 270-acre tract called the Natural La...View Details.
An officially designated Important Birding Area, this complex of wetlands is composed of 5,660 acres with shallow floodplain lakes and bottomland forest habitats. Spring and f...View Details.
34. Robinson ParkMossville Road, Peoria, IL 61603
This wild, undeveloped 680-acre park has several narrow, informal paths that lace the site, along with a substantial segment of the better-developed Pimiteoui Trail. The park...View Details.
Soon to be linked into Downtown Peoria, this hiking/biking rails-to-trails park offers a leisurely day of birding through a surprising array of habitats, from mature forest to...View Details.
Phone: 309-695-2228Site Access: free; fee for camping
GPS: 40.81296, -89.62976 Map It!
Fifteen centuries ago, melt-waters from the last Ice Age deposited vast amounts of sand along the Illinois River valley, which have since been sculpted into massive dunes. Fol...View Details.
With numerous floodplain lakes, sloughs, bottomland forests, both tallgrass prairie and sand prairie, this site offers incredible diversity within its 10,360 acres. The site i...View Details.
38. Shore Acres Park100 Park Blvd., Chillicothe, IL 61523
Located in Chillicothe on the west bank of the Illinois River the park is an excellent place to view wintering Bald Eagles. The focal point of the park is a 19th-century clubh...View Details.
39. Singing WoodsSinging Woods Road, Peoria, IL 61603
For centuries native people have benefited from the diversity of this rich woodland, today the Peoria area benefits from the preservation of this exceptional 700-acre nature p...View Details.
Nestled along the edge of an old growth oak-hickory forest, Spoon River College lies 4 miles southwest of Canton. It is a public community college and hosts a network of natur...View Details.
This small city park is an amazing gem for wildlife of all kinds, but especially birds! The park contains spring-fed creeks, a beautiful sandstone cliff formation with a water...View Details.
Once the main channel of the Illinois River, Spring Lake is now geologically classified as a “meander scar, an abandoned channel of the river. Guarded by a high sandstone bluf...View Details.
In the heart of Springdale Cemetery, one of central Illinois' largest and most historic cemeteries, there is a small remnant of native tallgrass oak savanna. This increasingly...View Details.
Starved Rock is one of the premier natural areas in the Midwest. There are 18 canyons cut by melting glaciers at the end of the ice age. They sparkle seasonally with waterfall...View Details.
The historic - but now rare - Illinois landscape of backwater lakes, wetlands, prairies, fens, and seeps now flourishes on former corn and soybean fields along the Illinois Ri...View Details.
46. Tante Park5774 Broadway, Pekin, IL
At just 40 acres, Tante Park is one of the quietest and most secluded of Pekin's natural area parks. Its Woodland Wildflower Trail runs along a creek bank, and past many old g...View Details.
GPS: 40.56799, -89.52054 Map It!
TNC has embarked on one of the largest wetland restoration projects in the U.S. Beneath the nearly 7,000 acres of plowed cropland was a dormant seed bank of prairie, hardwood ...View Details.
48. Warnecke Woods41-1835 North Avenue, Princeton, IL 61356
Warnecke Woods is a 33.5-acre botanical gem that was donated to the Bureau County Natural Resources Conservation Service District in 1984 by Marie Warnecke. Ecologically, the ...View Details.
This 41-acre wetland restoration project was initiated by Ducks Unlimited and then turned over to IDNR. In addition to its benefit to migrating waterfowl, the Wightman Lake p...View Details.
Step foot into the natural beauty that is native Illinois. Wildlife Prairie Park is a unique spot in central Illinois that is home to a variety of native Illinois plants and a...View Details.
Most of this 2,900 acre site is open water, a back water slough of the Illinois River, making it an ideal resting place for migrating waterfowl. Managed for duck hunting, many...View Details.