Bluebird perched on a branch.
Bluebird perched on a branch. © Nick Varvel/Creative

Stories in Illinois

Illinois Nature Notes

Find out which plants and wildlife you can spot this month!

February brings southern Illinois its first signs of spring! See below for all the natural events occurring throughout Illinois' diverse habitats this month.

Raptors such as sharp-shinned hawks and prairie falcons are at Nachusa Grasslands. From dusk and throughout the night, barred owls are calling "who cooks for you."

Birds such as downy woodpeckers and goldfinches can be seen along the Mackinaw River.

Signs of spring emerge as toothwort, spring beauties and bloodroot begin blooming and the sap rises in sugar maples trees in the Cache River wetlands. Wildlife are becoming more active as skunks begin to mate, chorus frogs start to sing, barn owls begin to nest and the first bluebirds arrive as well.

Bloodroot blooms in a forest.
Bloodroot blooms © Angie Cole

Minks, foxes and badgers can all be found at Kankakee Sands.

Love is in the air at Spunky Bottoms; bald eagles and great-horned owls are beginning the early part of their courtship displays. Showing their playful side, river otters leave tracks and slide marks in the snow.

Just like a porpoise diving through water, field mice at Indian Boundary Prairies can occasionally be seen burrowing up and down through the snow.

Song sparrows and cardinals at Midewin sing their songs, and as the month goes on, tree buds begin to swell, the twigs of willow and red-twig dogwood trees start to turn reds and yellows and red-wing blackbirds begin returning to the prairie.