Although the area may be best known as a winter haven for the Bald Eagle, the area is rich in diversity of birds with approximately 300 species having been sighted in the area. The area has a number of premier bird watching sites that cover a variety of habitats including wetlands, forests, and prairie savanna.
From the middle of December to the middle of March the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway hosts the second largest overwintering Bald Eagle population in the continental United States. Peak number of eagles occur in January and February. A number of organizations and communities host entertaining and educational programs that allow visitors to get up close and personal with our national symbol as well as see them in their natural habitat.
Pere Marquette State Park
Approximately 230 species of birds have been identified within, at the boundaries or flying over Pere Marquette State Park in the past 20 years. Popular locations for bird watching are Stump Lake, in the river bottoms, McAdams Peak and other overlooks along the scenic drive through the park.
Owls at Pere Marquette State Park
The Great Horned Owl, the Barred Owl and the Eastern Screech Owl are common to both Illinois and to Pere Marquette State Park. The Park offers periodic programs on owls on a regular basis which include a lecture followed by a night time hike to listen for these fascinating birds.
TreeHouse Wildlife Center
Jersey County, Illinois
The TreeHouse Wildlife Center sits on approximately eight beautiful acres near the rural town of Dow in Jersey County. It's become an ideal environment for injured or orphaned animals that need time to recuperate. The property features large outdoor cages for animals ready to be released, indoor havens for permanents residents, and a pond for waterfowl. Visitors will be able to see Bald Eagles, a variety of hawks and owls, mammals, and some reptiles in the center.
The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, established in 1988, includes 3,700 acres located in the heart of the Mississippi Flyway. These public lands and waters provide excellent habitat for birds that migrate in the east and central sections of the United States as well as long distance vagrants. The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is located on US 67/MO 367 just short of the Clark Bridge on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River.
Olin Nature Preserve
Located on the top of the Mississippi bluffs in Godfrey, the Olin Nature Preserve is a nearly 300 acre Illinois Nature Preserve with wide trails through woodlands and native hill prairies, and contains several scenic views overlooking the Mississippi River. The Olin Nature Preserve provides habitat to nearly 150 species of birds at different times of the year.
The Watershed Nature Center
The Watershed Nature Center is one of the best birding spots in the metropolitan Saint Louis area. This site contains all three major habitats in the region - Forest, wetlands, and prairie savanna. A flat one-mile trail (partially paved) circles two small lakes and travels through the three types of environments.
Horseshoe Lake State Park
Horseshoe Lake State Park is an excellent place for bird watching. It has been said that virtually all species of birds that have been spotted in the state have been seen at one time or another at the Park. In July and August the southern portion of the lake is drained and spread with millet by plane. The resulting mudflats attract many snowy egrets and blue herons in search of clams and snails. During the fall migration, this is a great place for waterfowl and shore birds, including loons, grebes, and cormorants. In winter, watch for a variety of gulls.