Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge
Snow geese at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge
Eagles and eaglet
Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is composed of five discrete parcels of riverine bottomland wetlands, four parcels between the Illinois River and the Mississippi River and one upstream on the Illinois. Altogether, there's about 9,225 acres involved.
During spring and fall migration season, hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds drop in for some lunch and a nap before continuing on. Almost 300 species of birds have been documented on the refuge during some part of a year.
The landscape is a mix of bottomland forest, open water, wetlands and prairie. Something about the place appeals to the bald eagle population: more than 500 bald eagles were once seen gathering above the refuge waters looking for snacks in the water below. Most of the eagles tend to arrive in October and stay until early spring. Some mature adult pairs stay year round to nest on the property and raise their young. But the best season for viewing eagles is winter, especially on the Calhoun and Clarksville Island Divisions.
Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is a day-use only property. Most of the refuge is closed to the public from October 16 to December 31 to provide inviolate sanctuary for the migratory birds passing through. The rest of the year the property is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, unless marked otherwise. The refuge visitor center is open daily year round (at the address listed below), from 8 am to 3:30 pm (generally), except closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days.
Back from the main river channels a bit
Photos and map courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service