Important Bird Areas

306-acre Colored Sands Forest Preserve on the Sugar River is known for its birds – and the bird banding at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory, its unique geology, and wonderful wildflowers. It offers outstanding panoramic views of the pristine Sugar River.

Colored Sands Forest Preserve achieved Important Bird Areas (IBAs) status for the State of Illinois. It is the first Important Bird Area designated in Winnebago County and one of 43 IBA’s in northern Illinois. Designated in January 2020, Colored Sands exemplifies the high quality habitat and bird diversity that Important Bird Areas protect. Important Bird Areas program is an international effort to identify, conserve, and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for bird populations. Colored Sands achieved IBA status due to the documented significant congregations of migratory land birds, including 32 warbler species and high counts of at least 33 migratory species. The IBAs certification process was led by Sinnissippi Audubon in partnership with Forest Preserves of Winnebago County and Sand Bluff Bird Observatory (SBBO).

This preserve has nesting Henslow’s, Lark and Grasshopper Sparrows. On spring evenings in suitable weather, Whip-poor-wills can be heard singing and American Woodcocks heard displaying from the parking lot. Barred Owls are year-round residents. In fall, the preserve is a good place to look for migrating hawks.

Because of its sandy soil, Colored Sands Forest Preserve also supports many plants, and their associated wildlife, that are not found anywhere else in the county.

Seasonal Highlights: In May the sand prairie displays acres of blue lupine and shooting stars, and hoary and fringed pucoon in the summer. Look for birdsfoot violets in the spring woods.

Location: 10602 Haas Road, Durand, IL 61024

Colored Sands is on Haas Road, west of Boswell Road, north of Yale Bridge Road, east of the Sugar River.