Mississippi Palisades State Park, located near the confluence of the Apple and Mississippi river in northwestern Illinois, is adjacent to the Mississippi River and lies 1.5 miles north of Savanna, Illinois.

The park lies within the southern part of the geologic region know as the "Driftless Area." Although much of Illinois' landscape is the result of glacial action, this is not the case with the extreme northwest corner. The unglaciated topography of Mississippi Palisades State park contains steep limestone bluffs and rock palisades that overlook the Mississippi River. Wooded ravines cut through the bluffs.

Contained within the park is the Sentinel Nature Preserve, a state-dedicated nature preserve named for a geologic feature called the Sentinel, a free-standing dolomite column rising nearly 200 feet above the talus slopes. In addition to its geologic features, Sentinel Nature Preserve also contains expanses of wildflowers, some of which require habitats that can be found nowhere else in the state.

Ornithological Summary

In a typical year, 180 to 190 species of birds use the Mississippi Palisades State Park and adjacent river areas. Nearly 100 breed here.

During spring and fall, 27 species of waterfowl and other water birds use the preserve for migration. Some of these include American White Pelican, Snow and Canada Geese, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Common Merganser. Also migrating through the park are Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Cooper?s Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon along withy 35 species of warblers, such as Black-throated Green and Blackburnian.

Breeding species include Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Whip-poor-will, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Veery, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Green Heron, Yellow-throated and Cerulean Warblers, Ovenbird and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for Raptors and breeding Cerulean Warbler.


Plant communities are represented by dry-mesic upland forest, wet-mesic floodplain forest, dolomite cliffs, mesic upland forests, loess hill prairies and intermittent streams.

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