Seasons of Wildlife

Located along the “un-pooled” section of the Mississippi, the refuge is a migratory link for songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. In a given year, a visitor could see snowy owls, plovers and pelicans all from the same vista. Our peak is early spring to summer followed by fall and early winter. If a particular species uses the Mississippi Flyway, you have a great opportunity to view it at the refuge. Consider visiting around Easter for songbirds and Thanksgiving for waterfowl. Don’t forget about our year-round mammal residents; deer, squirrel and raccoons.

Featured Species

Bald eagles are frequent visitors to locations on or near the Wilkinson Island (Jackson County, Illinois) and the Meissener Island Divisions (Monroe County, Illinois). These majestic birds nest and travel along the corridor moving toward the Upper Mississippi River’s lock and dams. The best time to view eagles is from October until early spring.

Look for golden flashes of the prothonotary warbler among the riverfront forests during the early spring. Watch for warblers using a variety of nesting cavities on Wilkinson, Harlow, Meissner and Beaver Island Divisions. In the early morning or late evenings, visitors should look for these colorful songbirds and a variety of other wood warblers as they glean foliage for insects and the occasional snail.

Adult red-headed woodpecker males have a vibrant red head, a distinctive white rump and wing patch and a flight pattern similar to a “flap-flap-pause” pattern. The red-headed woodpecker is regarded as a healthy forest indicator and a common visitor to the refuge. Call or visit the refuge visitor contact station to obtain a refuge bird list and begin your quest to add new bird species to your “life list”.