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Bird Watchers will find that the Fox River Basin offers them a bounty of sighting opportunities -- everything from the common herons, geese and waterfowl, to eagles and red-tailed hawks and ospreys, to the endangered sandhill cranes, yellow-headed blackbird, and least bittern.


Out of the 299 species that can be found in Illinois, at least 248 of them can be found in the Fox River Basin, and of these, 152 breed or formerly bred here. One of the reasons for this abundance of bird life is the Basin’s many wetland habitats. Here one can find rare species, such as the pied-billed grebe, the double-crested cormorant, the great egret, yellow-crowned night heron, king rail, Virginia rail, and common moorhen. All are on the state’s threatened list.


One of the greatest thrills for novice bird watchers is spotting the bald eagles soaring over the river, and then swooping down to catch fish in their talons. Te once-endangered eagles and their offspring are becoming more and more at home on the Fox River.


amphibians & reptiles Bald eagle


Snakes may not be among everyone’s favorite reptile, but they are important to the Fox River Basin’s habitat, as are the other 21 reptile and 14 amphibian species found here. Although none of these species are currently on any endangered lists, their favorite habitats, wet prairies and wooded upland ponds, are becoming in short supply, which may lead to decimation of their species. Te disappearance of the cricket frog during the last decade may be the first sign of trouble ahead.


Ninety-six species of fish, 32 species of mussels, and 14 species of large crustaceans call the Basin their home. Included among the fish, on the endangered list, are the blacknose shiners, greater redhorse and Iowa darter. Treatened fish include the blackchin shiner, river redhorse and the banded killifish. Several of these species are found only in the Basin’s glacial lakes and nowhere else in Illlinois.


Bull frog


One threatened species of mussel, the spike, and one endangered one, the slippershell, can still be found, but two endangered species, the sheepnose and wavy-rayed lampmussel, have not seen seen here in more than 50 years.


Northern muskie - 7 - Freshwater mussel


Sandhill cranes


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