Purple blazing star wildflowers stand out in a green prairie.
Regal Fritillary Spy regal fritillary butterflies this month. © Chris Helzer

Stories in Illinois

Illinois Nature Notes for August

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

Great numbers of swallows feast on insects in the wetlands and blazing star brightens up the prairies.

The golden prairies at the Kankakee Sands Preserve and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are blooming with New England aster, downy sunflower, blazing star, compass plant and prairie dock.  

There is a flurry of activity in the Cache River Wetlands, with spicebush berries and persimmons beginning to ripen, copperhead snakes giving birth, painted turtle eggs hatching, baby skunks leaving home and migratory birds such as northern shoveler ducks, ospreys and kits beginning to arrive.

Sora rail birds can be found at the Indian Boundary Prairies Preserve among the blooming false foxglove and button blazing star.

Tree, cliff, bank and barn swallows start to concentrate in great numbers over the wetlands at the Spunky Bottoms and Emiquon preserves, gorging on emerging insects as they start to stage for migration.

Numerous wading birds such as solitary sandpipers and lesser yellow legs can be spotted feeding in wetlands along the Mackinaw River.

Nachusa Grasslands’ remnant rocky outcrops are lush with rough blazing star and little bluestem.

A black and yellow bee on a green plant with clustered pink flowers.
Swamp Milkweed This month, view swamp milkweed blooms at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. © Angie Cole

The globally rare wet, mesic and dry dolomite prairies at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are in full bloom with a variety of grasses and forbs, including blue-joint grass, prairie cord grass, swamp milkweed, leafy prairie clover and hairy false mallow.

Hues of purple brighten up the Mackinaw River with blooms of butterfly milkweed, purple prairie clover and tall pale purple coneflowers.