About Sand Bluff Bird Observatory

Located within Colored Sands Forest Preserve in Northwest Winnebago County, Illinois, Sand Bluff Bird Observatory is one of the largest small-bird banding operations in the country that is open to the public. Originally purchased in 1964 as a working farm, it has been converted back into prairie over many years.

Sand Bluff was created to study population trends in migrant birds, termed neo-trops, although we also trap resident species as well. In a typical year 4-6,000 warblers, vireos, orioles, sparrows, thrushes and finches are banded . The data we collect is vital in helping scientists and government understand the current status of these birds both nationally, and internationally.

The station is operated entirely by volunteers who band, serve as guides for visitors and present educational programs for various groups. Financial support comes entirely from the donations of individuals and organizations.

Although Sand Bluff is primarily a research facility, visitors are always welcome to come watch our operation and share in the learning process. 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.

SBBO and the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County are pleased to offer this educational resource to local citizens and visitors to the county.

We hope your visit will increase your appreciation of wildlife.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory is research and study of avian species through banding and collection of data primarily in the Rock River Valley area. The data will be used to increase the body of scientific knowledge and awareness to facilitate continued protection of avian species in North America. A secondary goal is education of the public through programming.

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