Located 4.5 miles west of the
Brussels Free Ferry in Calhoun County on County Road 1, The Two Rivers National
Wildlife Refuge (formerly the Brussels District of the Mark Twain National
was established in 1958 and consists of 8,498 acres. The Refuge lies near the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois
rivers. Properties in Illinois include
the Calhoun, Batchtown, and Gilbert Lake divisions and the Apple Creek property.
In Missouri, the District encompasses the Portage Island group in St. Charles
Much of the land was originally purchased by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the nine-foot navigation channel project
and management of the land was later transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. The Refuge lies in a major migration corridor for waterfowl,
other birds, with the Riverbend Area of the Refuge hosting the second largest
overwintering bald eagle populations in the continental United States. The Refuge contains a
variety of habitats including bottomland forests, lakes, sloughs, cropland and
moist soil units.
The objectives of the Refuge are 1) to protect
endangered and threatened species, such as bald eagles, 2) to provide food,
water, and protection for migrating and wintering waterfowl and other migratory
birds, 3) to enhance habitat for wood duck production and 4) to provide
environmental education and outdoor recreation opportunities.
With 30,000 visitors annually, the Refuge offers
public use opportunities such as boating, fishing, wildlife observation and
Two divisions of the Two Rivers National
Wildlife Refuge are listed on the National Audubon Society's
River Birding Trail. They report that in the Gilbert Lake Division
hundreds of American Bald Eagles use
the area quite extensively during the winter, and you can find excellent viewing
opportunities from IL-100 (the Great River Road.) The Gilbert Lake area is an excellent
stopover for spring and fall migrating warblers, such as American Redstarts,
Prothonotary Warblers and also Acadian Flycatchers. Watch for egrets, Bald
Eagles, Wild Turkeys, and scan the mudflats for a variety of shorebirds in both
spring and fall.
The U.S. Geological Survey
checklist for birds that can be seen in this refuge.
The Calhoun Division is an important link in the migration
of millions of birds. Watch for Bald Eagles during the winter months, as well as
huge concentrations of Snow Geese from mid-October to mid-March, with numbers
peaking around 20,000. This area also attracts
White Pelicans, Green-winged Teal, Canvasbacks, and Northern Pintails. Swan
Lake is great for spring and fall shore birds.
Visiting the Two Rivers National
The Refuge maintains a Visitors Center
with an observation deck with hours of 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. The
Gilbert Lake and Calhoun Divisions are closed to public access (except for the
overlook road in the Gilbert Lake Division) from October 15 - December 31 to
provide an undisturbed sanctuary for waterfowl and other migratory birds. The Visitors Center is open weekdays and some weekends during that
period so interested visitors should call ahead.
There is no charge to visit the Two Rivers
National Wildlife Refuge.
Directions: The Two Rivers
National Wildlife Refuge is located 4.5 miles west of the
Brussels Free Ferry along Hagen Road in Calhoun County off of County Road 1.
more about the Brussels area.