Birds of Illinois Beach


Illinois Beach State Park is one of the premier places to view bird migration in the Midwest. The area is an important stopover point for migrating songbirds to rest and refuel before they continue with their spring and fall migrations. During fall and winter, you’ll also see migrating waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.

Hawks, including Cooper's, Sharp-shinned, Northern Harriers, Broad-winged, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Swainson's have been found here, along with other raptors including, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Merlins,  Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, and occasionally Goshawks and Golden Eagles. Look for large numbers of migrating hawks in the fall. While migrating, raptors like hawks depend on updrafts to help them conserve energy by soaring. Since updrafts are absent over large bodies of open water, migration over the Great Lakes can be a challenge for them.


The Cornell Ornithology Lab has a great website for identifying birds.



On a two hour hike through the south unit in August, the following birds were observed by our ornithologist:

  • Ring Billed Gull
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black-billed Cukoo
  • Double Breasted Cormorant
  • American Kestrel
  • Field Sparrow
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • American Goldfinch
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Blue Jay
  • Canada Goose
  • Carolina Wren
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Eastern Wood Peewee
  • American Robin
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Chimney Swift
  • Barn Swallow
  • Red Winged Blackbird
  • Teal

  • Sandhill Cranes

  • Great Blue Heron

  • Canada Geese

  • Flycatcher

  • Canada Geese

  • Bufflehead

  • Black-billed Cuckoo

Learn more about birds