Birding Winnebago County

Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve

Location Information

This preserve features 7 miles of trails winding around oxbow lakes and marshes, through bottomland forest, wetlands, prairie restorations and upland forest on over 1000 acres along the Pecatonica River. The site has outstanding spring wildflowers and birdlife.
Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve
18144 Blair Road, 4550 N. Pecatonica Road & 5750 Best Road
Pecatonica, Illinois
(815) 877-6100

Species & Habitat

Signature bird & wildlife: Sandhill Cranes nest at the edges of some of the oxbow lakes and marshes. Tree Swallows and Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in the standing dead trees in the marshes throughout the preserve. The more heavily wooded marshes have nesting Prothonotary Warblers and Wood Ducks. A heron rookery is at the west end of an oxbow visible from Pecatonica Road near the preserve entrance and parking area. American White Pelicans use the oxbows during late summers and migration. Migration brings a wide variety of birds such as Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Blue-headed Vireos, Northern Waterthrushes, five species of swal-lows and many other songbirds. Waterfowl stop off on migration and Bald Eagles hunt up and down the Pecatonica River.
Rare bird & wildlife: Known to see Bald Eagles at this location.
Habitats: 1,048 acres of flood-plain forest, oxbow pond marshes and upland forest along the Pecatonica River.

Site Access Information

Admission Charges: None
Hours of operation: 7:00 a.m. to one half hour after sunset
Seasonality of site: Preserve properties open to public for year round use - some roads or gates not accessable or open in winter months for vehicle travel.
Site Restrictions: Trails may be muddy or, sometimes, impassable, due to high water. Other site restrictions may apply, as per the Forest Preserves General Use Ordinance and Regulations (see District Web Site)

Site Assessment Information

Amenities: parking areas, restrooms, handicap accessible
Other: Arrowhead picnic shelter is on the east side of Best Road, west of Pecatonica Road and north of Blair Road. The shelter has paved parking, barbeque area, fireplace, toilets and water.


Historical/cultural attributes at or near site: Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve is an excellent bird watching location.


Directions: 5750 Best Road, Pecatonica, IL 61063
Pecatonica Wetlands may be accessed just north of the Village of Pecatonica and the Pecatonica River, on the west side of Pecatonica Road. The picnic shelterhouse area is on the east side of Best Road, west of Pecatonica Road and north of Blair Road.

Driving Directions