A Barred Owl shaking off some snow during a mid-winter snowstorm.
Barred Owl in Winter A Barred Owl shaking off some snow during a mid-winter snowstorm. © Scott Suriano/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Stories in Illinois

Illinois Nature Notes for February

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

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

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

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

A red fox in the snow.
Fox in Snow Red fox breeding takes place from January to February across Illinois. © Charles Larry

Minks, foxes and badgers can all be found at Kankakee Sands. Birds like downy woodpeckers and goldfinches can be seen along the Mackinaw River. 

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.

Song sparrows and cardinals at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie 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.

Explore the Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns 7 preserves in Illinois and nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 millions acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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