Birding in the County

The birds of three major Forest Preserve sites are summarized on this page. For a brief description of the three sites. Our thanks to the volunteers of Champaign County Audubon Society, who made this report possible! Enjoy! 

Western Palm WarblerPhoto by Brian Stearns

Lake of the Woods - 100 Breeding Species

The Lake of the Woods site extends for several miles along the Sangamon River system northeast of the Village of Mahomet, Illinois. This riparian corridor offers excellent opportunities for birding among extensively wooded bottom lands, grasslands, open water of Lake of the Woods and Elks Lake, and wooded bluffs. The three-plus mile Sangamon Valley Trail extends through the Lake of the Woods site and provides excellent access. This smooth asphalt trail is one of the premier trails in Champaign County, and provides several parking lots, access points and a modern all-season restroom. The Sangamon River Valley in western Champaign County serves as a migration corridor for numerous birds such as raptors and songbirds. Among the latter are many neotropical migrants.

In the spring and summer, the Lake of the Woods site provides important nesting, resting and foraging habitat for many species. The site is utilized extensively again during the fall migration. Even in the winter months, the area serves as a wintering ground for some northern bird populations, in addition to year-round residents.

Middle Fork Forest Preserve - 111 Breeding Species

The Middle Fork Forest Preserve site extends for several miles along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River system from four miles above Penfield, Illinois, nearly to the Ford County line. This pristine rural river country offers fabulous opportunities for birding among extensively wooded bottom lands, open water and wetlands of the District's Waterfowl Management Area, prairie restorations, and wooded bluffs. The Middle Fork River environment in northeastern Champaign County serves as a migration corridor not only for waterfowl, but for numerous other birds such as raptors, wading birds, shorebirds and songbirds. Among the latter are many neotropical migrants.

In the spring and summer, the Middle Fork Waterfowl Management Area provides important nesting, resting and foraging habitat for many species. The site is utilized extensively again during the fall migration. Even in the winter months, the area serves as a wintering ground for some northern bird populations, in addition to year-round residents. Several state and federal threatened and endangered species nest here. The northern harrier, or marsh hawk, can be seen here. The Waterfowl Management Area, dedicated in 1992, was constructed with monies from the Illinois Department of Natural Resource's Duck Stamp Fund. Interesting occasional transients are sandhill cranes and eagles.

Spotted SandpiperPhoto by Brian Stearns

Homer Lake Forest Preserve - 98 Breeding Species

The Homer Lake Forest Preserve site, two miles northwest of Homer, Illinois, extends for about two miles along the Salt Fork River. This high-quality rural river country offers excellent opportunities for birding among extensively wooded bottom lands, open water and wetlands of the river, Homer Lake, Collins Pond, grasslands, prairie restorations, and wooded bluffs. The Salt Fork River Valley in southeastern Champaign County serves as a migration corridor not only for waterfowl, but for numerous other birds such as raptors and songbirds. Among the latter are many neotropical migrants.

In the spring and summer, the Salt Fork River corridor provides important nesting, resting and foraging habitat for many species. The site is utilized extensively again during the fall migration. Even in the winter months, the area serves as a wintering ground for some northern bird populations, in addition to year-round residents. Unusual species include the pileated woodpecker and the cliff swallow.