By Jason Beverlin
Deputy Director of the Illinois River Program
Perseverance has greatly rewarded us here at Emiquon and this summer has been evidence of great progress. We are seeing an increase in the numbers of the black-crowned night heron and recently we have spotted 30 at the preserve. This heron is the most widespread in the world. It spans five continents and because of this wide distribution, this bird is an excellent indicator of a healthy ecosystem. I've recently sighted black-crowned night herons resting in dead trees located in the water on a platform of sticks surrounded by at least a dozen other heron nests. The unique birds have a black upper back and cap with gray wings, bottom and tail. Their red eyes and stout black bill make them easy to spot.
As I reported earlier this year, high water levels at Emiquon led to a temporary halt in construction of the visitor center. We pumped out around two feet of water, reducing levels enough that construction is once again underway.
As the weather warms up here, people are taking advantage of the activities our preserve has to offer. Boating and fishing season is well underway and Dickson Mounds Museum has been busy issuing permits. Since water levels have decreased, parking at the preserve is more accessible than it was in the winter and spring months.