Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area is located just north of the Sangamon River near the town of Beardstown in west-central Illinois. This wildlife reserve consists of sloughs, backwater lakes, timbered ponds and bottomland forest comprised of willow, maple and cottonwood. Both the Illinois and Sangamon rivers contribute to the ecology of the area ? and indeed the name Sanganois comes from joining the names of those two rivers.

The state began acquiring what is now Sanganois in1948. Today, this wildlife area contains more than 10,000 acres, which include roughly 1,700 acres of water, and the rest in forest and cropland.

Ornithological Summary

Sanganois contains important habitat for migratory waterfowl, including tens of thousands of ducks each season, American White Pelican and Tundra and Trumpeter Swans.

Breeding specialties include Brown Creeper (100 pairs were documented nesting here in 1982), Lark Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Western Meadowlark and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
A Bewick's Wren successfully nested in 1998.

Bald Eagles forage here year-round and several pair nest as well.

As with all floodplain lakes, water levels vary. When deep, they provide habitat for gulls, terns and ducks. Sometimes the lakes are little more than mudflats, which attract migratory shorebirds including hundreds of Pectoral and Least Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs and fewer numbers of Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Dunlin and Greater Yellowlegs.

In winter, raptors such as Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier and Short-eared Owls scour the fields for food.

This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for Waterfowl and Wading Birds.

Conservation Issues

The damming of the Illinois River and other land use changes along the river resulted in heavier and longer floods than historically present, causing a shift in plant communities throughout the river floodplain.


This relatively flat site drains directly into the Illinois River and is prone to frequent flooding. Mississippian aged sandstone form the bedrock. The plant communities are associated with wet and wet-mesic floodplain forest, shrub-scrub swamps and emergent wetlands.

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