Birding and conservation along the Illinois River Road offer an enchanting and educational experience for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. This picturesque byway traverses a region renowned for its diverse ecosystems, making it a haven for birdwatchers and a hotspot for conservation efforts.
The Illinois River Road is a birdwatcher's paradise, boasting a remarkable variety of avian species. The region's wetlands, forests, and riverbanks provide essential habitats for both resident and migratory birds. Birdwatchers can expect to spot a wide array of feathered friends, including majestic bald eagles, graceful herons, colorful warblers, and countless other species. The river's corridors act as vital migratory routes, making it a prime location for observing seasonal bird movements.
Birding along the Illinois River Road is not only a visual delight but also an educational experience. Many sites along the route offer interpretive centers, guided tours, and educational programs that cater to both novice and experienced birdwatchers. These resources provide valuable insights into avian behavior, ecology, and the importance of conservation efforts.
Conservation is at the heart of the Illinois River Road's commitment to preserving its natural beauty. Along the byway, you'll find numerous wildlife refuges, preserves, and conservation organizations dedicated to protecting the area's fragile ecosystems. These initiatives work tirelessly to safeguard the habitats that sustain the region's birdlife and other wildlife.
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!
Online Birding Resources
For those who want to be a better birder, want to participate in citizen science projects, explore your options on binoculars or field guides, learn about the latest sighting or simply want more information about bird watching, here are a few of our favorite links. You can also click below to download our introductory guide to birding along the Illinois River Road.
Illinois Audubon Society
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!
Cornell Labs at Cornell University
Cornell Labs at Cornell University is a great resource 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.
No bird watcher should leave home without the Illinois Atlas and Gazeteer maps by DeLorme. These include 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.
When mankind looks back on its accomplishments, none should be greater than the restoration and preservation of our ecosystems for future generations. Restoring and preserving the natural wetlands and floodplains along the Illinois River Road is a huge commitment made by many dedicated organizations and individuals. We invite you to personally get in touch with the natural world and enjoy the beauty of these restored wetlands and floodplains along the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway.
Conservation in Action
Restoring and preserving the natural wetlands and floodplains along the Illinois River Road is a huge commitment made by many dedicated organizations and individuals. Thanks to various organizations, a real impact is made on the Illinois River ecosystem. We invite you to personally get in touch with the natural world and enjoy the beauty of these restored wetlands and floodplains along the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway.
Organizations Making an Impact on the Illinois River Ecosystem
Click to visit each organization's website.