Nature Viewing

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Birding Opportunities

Southern Illinois features the joining of 4 very different Natural Divisions: The Missouri Ozark Hills, the Mississippi River Bottomlands, the Shawnee Hills, and the Coastal Plain. Because of this, the Shawnee offers a variety of habitat types within a short distance of one another that have exceptional bird diversity. In addition to habitat diversity, the Shawnee National Forest is also located in the Mississippi Flyway, which is a prime location to observe bird migrations.

We know that the Shawnee National Forest is home and host to more than 200 species of breeding and migrating birds thanks to Citizen Scientists who collect data for local Christmas Bird Counts, Spring Bird Counts, and Breeding Bird Surveys annually. A newer citizen science project called eBird allows individuals to submit their observations year-round. We would love your help in learning more about the birds that call this forest Home, and those that pass through on their journeys north and south.

To do this, you can identify and count the birds you see, and submit your observations to the international Citizen Science project called eBird. In addition to contributing important data to science, eBird allows you to keep track of your bird lists, explore maps and graphs, and share your sightings and join the eBird community! You can find full instructions and support for using eBird directly on their website.

For a video tutorial on how to submit your observations in eBird, click here.

Recommended Birding Sites


South of Carbondale, IL

Pomona Natural Bridge

Cedar Lake Trails

Oakwood Bottoms Interpretive Site

LaRue Pine Hills Ecological Area

Northwest of Carbondale, IL

Kinkaid Lake Trail


South of Marion, IL

Panther Den Wilderness

Lake of Egypt

Dutchman Lake


South of Harrisburg, IL

Bell Smith Springs Natural Area

Garden of the Gods

Lake Glendale Recreation Area

Jackson Falls

Rim Rock Trail

For recreation information, driving directions and maps check out the forest’s Recreation Opportunity Guides.


Botanical viewing sites

Visit the Celebrating Wildflowers website to search viewing sites within the Shawnee National Forest.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities