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Local Birding

Sand Ridge State Forest

Directions From Peoria, go south on Route 29 through Pekin. Turn west onto the Manito blacktop (at the federal penitentiary). Follow the Manito blacktop for around 13 miles, going through Manito. Turn north (right) at 2500N. Follow 2500N for around 4 miles. Turn south on 2600E into the forest.

Illinois DNR Site Map

eBird: Birding Hotspot Map

Description Large tracts of pine (planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s) and native oak-hickory forests with numerous multi-use trails open to horseback riding. The forest includes several rare sand prairie areas. One of the largest is protected as the Henry Allen Gleason Illinois State Nature Preserve.

In the north end of the forest is the Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery with indoor restroom facilities and a small museum devoted to fishing and Illinois River history.

Illinois DNR Sand Ridge web page

Suggested Route/Stops From the headquarters, drive west on Sand Ridge Road and stop at the Pine Campground and Horseman's Park. Look for crossbills in winter and listen for Whip-Poor-Wills and Chucks-Wills-Widows in summer.

The forest surrounding Bishop Road is excellent for warblers, vireos, and tanagers during migration..

Visit Henry Allen Gleason preserve off Topeka Road and hike out to the huge sand dunes -- a great spot for a hawk watch.

Commonly Seen Birds Spring/Fall -- Warblers, finches, grassland sparrows, and hawks.

Summer -- Nightjars, Wild Turkeys, Eastern Towhees in great number, nesting warblers including Ovenbirds and Kentucky Warblers.

Winter -- Red-Breasted Nuthatches, finches, and hawks.

Specialties In summer, Sand Ridge is one of the few reliable places in Central Illinois to find Chuck-Wills-Widows. In winter, it is famous for large numbers of Red Crossbills. Rarer hawks such as Northern Goshawks and a variety of owls have also turned up in the forest.
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