Department of Biological Sciences

Natural Habitats at Kibbe

Kibbe Station is the only station of its size located on the navigable portion of the upper Mississippi River System. The management area includes 5.2 miles of river shoreline with easy access to sandbars, islands, sloughs, navigation pools and forested floodplains. Additionally, the Field Station is located on Pool 20 just downstream of Lock and Dam 19, the oldest dam on the Mississippi River and one of the most ecologically significant structures on the Upper Mississippi River.




The uplands are comprised of oak dominated forests, sand hills with xeric sand prairie, limestone outcroppings/bluffs and hill prairies. Rocky intermittent streams are found in the valleys and glens. The site represents the largest piece of continuous habitat in the area. The Sand Hills Nature Preserve, a restored oak savanna and tracts of restored tallgrass prairie are also being actively managed using prescribed fire and other techniques to promote diversity and to control invasive species.



The Field Station is a major wintering site for bald eagles, one of the largest concentrations in North America. The eagles' night roost is included in Cedar Glen Natural Area. Cedar Glen Natural Area and the rest of the lands managed via Kibbe Station operations are collectively called the Kibbe Macro site (KM). Macro sites are large areas recognized by Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as containing large tract of ecologically significant native terrestrial and/or aquatic resources.




More than 100 plant families and 720 vascular plant species and 100 non-vascular plant species have been documented in the Macro site. Nearly 225 families of insects along with 25 species of amphibians, 25 breeding bird species and 33 mammal species occur at the site. White-tailed deer, wild turkey and beaver are abundant in the area. River otters are also returning to the area.

The adjacent section of the Mississippi River is a major flyway for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds with diving ducks, ospreys and pelicans roosting in the fall. Pileated woodpeckers nest and feed in the woodlands along the bluffs. The adjacent section of river contains the most diverse mussel sanctuary in the state. Two state-listed endangered species have been found in the sanctuary. The Station and the surrounding area offer many opportunities for students, faculty, and the public to take part in conservation, education and research projects.