Warbler Woods Nature Preserve
Ownership: Grand Prairie Friends
Size: 202 Acres
Steward: David Mott and Embarras Volunteer Stewards
Warbler Woods is a 202-acre preserve that was dedicated as a nature preserve in 1999 to conserve high-quality dry-mesic and mesic upland forest, adjacent forest, and all the native plants and animals that inhabit the area. Two years prior to nature preserve dedication, Warbler Woods was registered as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve to conserve an ~ 152-acre forest and associated land that is vital habitat for at least twenty species of breeding birds that are moderately or highly sensitive to forest fragmentation. A great variety of warblers inhabit this forest, and conservation of these namesake birds as well as all native animals that live in the preserve is a primary goal.
An uncommon wildflower, false hellebore (Veratrum woodii) occurs here. False hellebore was listed as threatened in Illinois when this preserve was dedicated, but it is no longer on Illinois’ threatened and endangered species list. The preserve is part of a once extensive forested tract along the Embarras River. It is adjacent to Embarras Ridges Land and Water Reserve.
This property was first purchased and protected by Dr. Lawrence B. Hunt, a professor of ornithology at Eastern Illinois University. Grand Prairie Friends became the owner in 2014 when Dr. Hunt’s widow, Shirley, generously donated this preserve in memory of her husband.
Dr. Hunt recognized the natural value of Warbler Woods and purchased the land in 1981 in order to protect it and enjoy the beauty it provided. For decades, Dr. Hunt brought Eastern Illinois University students to the property so they could hone their bird identification skills and witness ornithology in action. It was the first time that many of them were able to catch birds in mist nets and put leg bands on birds for scientific research.
Please note: Warbler Woods is protected as an Illinois Nature Preserve, and no living or dead plant or animal material, or inorganic material including soils, minerals, or water, may be removed. We encourage you to come out for hiking, bird watching, photography, nature observation and study.