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Local Birding

Rice Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area


From the Interstate 474-Highway 24 interchange in Bartonville, go about 24 miles south on Highway 24. The main entrance is signed on the south side of the road.

Illinois DNR site map

eBird: Birding Hotspot Map

Google Map to Rice Lake


Description Rice Lake is a backwater area that provides stopover habitat for ducks and geese during migration. Bald Eagles use the bottom land timber as a winter roost. The area includes Big Lake, an excellent shore-birding spot in spring and fall, as well as Slim Lake, Goose Lake, Pond Lily Lake, Lock Pond, and the Copperas Creek area. Levees and draw-downs, combined with plantings, are used to attract waterfowl.

Illinois DNR Rice Lake web page
Suggested Route/Stops Rice Lake itself is a deepwater lake. The best birding is on Big Lake, accessible from the Copperas Creek area and Duck Island (covered on their own pages in this site). The main Rice Lake access area has parking, restrooms, and a boat ramp. Eagles are sometimes seem on Miserable Island.
Commonly Seen Birds Spring/Fall -- Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Waders and cormorants.

Summer -- Waders and cormorants, Pileated Woodpeckers.

Winter -- Diving ducks and Bald Eagles.

Specialties Eurasian Tree Sparrows are increasingly common.
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