The banding station is operated entirely by volunteers who band, serve as guides for visitors and present educational programs for various groups. Although Sand Bluff is primarily a research facility, visitors are always welcome to come watch our operation and share in the learning process.

We are open seasonally.  During the spring season (Mid March to End of May) and fall season (Mid August to End of November), we are open on Saturday (Sunrise to 12:00 p.m.) and Sunday (Sunrise to 12:00 p.m.).  If you are unsure if we are open because of time of the year or weather, please call 815-629-2671.

Whether it’s a House Wren or a Red-tailed-Hawk, the experience of seeing, in hand, the birds that share our planet will long stay in the memory.

While there is not a fee to visit us during banding days, we do appreciate donations. Financial support comes entirely from the donations of individuals and organizations.

Come see us soon!

When to visit: Morning is best. Birds are most active in the morning and on cloudy days. Fewer birds are caught at mid-day.

Rain or shine: Yes! Overcast days can be very good banding days. The bird observatory is open except during constant, heavy rains.

What to wear: Hats, closed shoes, long pants and shirts with long sleeves are recommended – even in hot weather.

Insects: Mosquitos and ticks are often present and very active so use of insect repellent is recommended.

Access to the nets: Only with a certified SBBO staff member are visitors allowed to walk along the nets during banding periods.

Pets: Leashed pets are permitted in the forest preserve, but pets are not permitted in the building or near the nets.

For active visitors: A scenic loop includes a hike through an oak savanna to the sand bluff overlooking the Sugar River.

For less active visitors: A path runs along one of the net runs. The banding facility and the restrooms are handicapped accessible and close to parking.

Nearby facilities: Campsites are two miles away at Sugar River Forest Preserve. Canoeists can put in on the Sugar River in Wisconsin for a trip to Colored Sands or Sugar River Forest Preserves.

Photography: Please ask the bander for permission to photograph the birds during banding. No flash photography please.

Large Group or Field Trip:  Visit this page and fill out the form at the bottom to request a visit with a large group (10+) during the week or weekend.  We love to host school field trips and other groups at SBBO.

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