Events & Activities

Common Feeder Birds

Saturday, January 14, 1-2pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Learn tips for identifying birds at your feeders, types of feeds that attract different species, and how to report your observations as a citizen science project. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Frog & Toad Survey Orientation

Saturday, February 4, 1-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Learn how to conduct listening surveys of the frogs and toads of the Cache River Watershed for the Illinois Natural History Survey. No special skills needed; families welcome to participate. All materials will be provided for surveys, conducted four times between February and June. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Movie Night

Thursday, February 9, 6-8pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Free nature movies for viewers of all ages: this year’s theme is “Peculiar Pollinators.” Light refreshments served and brief discussion led by AmeriCorps members from Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge after the movie. This month’s showing is Disney’s Wings of Life.


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Butterflies: How They Survive

Sunday, February 12, 1-2pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Learn the life cycles of various butterflies and how they survive winter: some go south, but others stay and tough it out in one form or another. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

20th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

Friday, February 17-Monday, February 20

Count birds in your own backyard for at least 15 minutes on one or more days and submit your results at eBird.org or through GBBC. For more information on this citizen science project, visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started/

ADVENTURE SERIES: Bellrose Bike Tour

Saturday, February 25, 10am-12pm

Location: Meet at Bellrose Viewing Platform, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Get a special “behind-the-scenes” look at how wetland areas are managed during this bicycle tour of Bellrose Waterfowl Reserve, which is normally closed to the public this time of year. 


Please register in advance by calling Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Birds of Mermet Lake

Saturday, March 4, 9-11am

Location: Meet at Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, at the parking area for the Bluebird Trail, and take a guided driving tour around the lake, with stops for closer views of waterfowl and identification tips. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Movie Night

Thursday, March 9, 6-8pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Free nature movies for viewers of all ages: this year’s theme is “Peculiar Pollinators.” Light refreshments served and brief discussion led by AmeriCorps members from Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge after the movie. This month’s showing is Silence of the Bees

Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Landscaping with Native Grasses

Sunday, March 12, 2-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Learn how to pair native grasses with wildflowers in your home landscape, to provide beauty as well as larval food for moths and butterflies. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Birding the Bottoms

Tuesday, March 14, 6-7pm

Location: Hickory Bottoms Trail, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Bring your binoculars and rubber boots for this early spring evening hike in search of woodpeckers, raptors and migrating waterfowl.


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Birding at Grand Bahama Island

Saturday, March 18, 1-2pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Enjoy a photo presentation by John and Martha Schwegman on birds of the West Indies, including many birds of southern Illinois that migrate to Grand Bahama Island in the winter. 

Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Fantastic (Reptilian) Beasts and Where to Find Them

Saturday, March 25, 2-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Reptiles, while often misunderstand, can make fantastic pets. Learn how to care for snakes, lizards and turtles, and one might just “Slytherin” to your heart! 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Calling All Owls

Friday, April 7, 7-10pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Swoop on in to learn all about the owls of southern Illinois, and then head out into the cool dark night to listen for their eerie calls. After the indoor program from 7-8pm, natural heritage biologist Mark Guetersloh will lead a guided owl prowl. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Spring Migration Bird Hike

Tuesday, April 11, 6-7pm

Location: Limekiln Springs Trail, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Binoculars are recommended for this evening hike in search of migrating warblers. The hike will begin at the Lower Cache Access off Access Road.


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Guided Van Tour on Tunnel Hill State Trail

Thursday, April 13, four trips scheduled throughout the day

Location: Meet at Cache River Wetlands Center

Enjoy the spring flowers and learn more about the wildlife, history and hydrology of the Cache River Watershed on this guided van tour for senior citizens and persons with physical limitations. The tour will explore a section of the Tunnel Hill State Trail between Vienna and the Cache River Wetlands Center. 
Limited seats; please register in advance by calling the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Movie Night

Thursday, April 13, 6-8pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Free nature movies for viewers of all ages: this year’s theme is “Peculiar Pollinators.” Light refreshments served and brief discussion led by AmeriCorps members from Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge after the movie. This month’s showing is Hummingbirds: Jewels of the Air


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Kids in the Woods: Looking Up, Looking Down

Saturday, April 15, 1-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Program series by Southern Illinois Master Naturalists for families with children ages 5-10. This month, we will be looking up to observe and identify clouds, looking up at trees to notice their different shapes, and looking down for shadows and animal tracks.


Please register in advance by calling the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Spring Wildflower Hike at Limekiln Springs

Thursday, April 20, 6-7pm

Location: Limekiln Springs Trail, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge

The Limekiln Springs Trail has a gorgeous display of native spring wildflower species. This early evening hike will leave from the Limekiln Springs West Access. 


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

GET OUTSIDE DAY, Anywhere Outside, Anytime

Saturday, April 22, anytime

Location: Anywhere outside!

Just for one day, make the commitment to unplug your computer and reconnect with Nature and your loved ones by exploring the great outdoors together. Recommended for people of all ages. Take the challenge for one day and be your REAL, WILD self. Caution: you may experience unexplainable moments of joy and laughter!

Spring Hike at Heron Pond

Saturday, April 22, 9-11am

Location: Heron Pond Trail, Cache River State Natural Area

Celebrate GET OUTSIDE DAY by taking a guided hike with John and Martha Schwegman to identify spring wildflowers and birds. Meet at the parking lot for Heron Pond Trail. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

ADVENTURE SERIES: Abandoned Channel Adventure

Saturday, April 29, 9am-12pm

Location: Cache Levee Access, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Enjoy a free canoe tour through the southern end of the Refuge along the Old Cache Channel, which features bottomland forests and a diversity of wildlife. 

Limited space, please register in advance by calling Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Afterglow Heron Pond Bird Hike

Tuesday, May 9, 6-8:30pm

Location: Heron Pond Trail, Cache River State Natural Area

Look for migratory birds along the boardwalk, visit the state champion cherry bark oak and listen to the music of the night. Binoculars, head lamps/flashlights and hiking boots recommended. 


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Movie Night

Thursday, May 11, 6-8pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Free nature movies for viewers of all ages: this year’s theme is “Peculiar Pollinators.” Light refreshments served and brief discussion led by AmeriCorps members from Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge after the movie. This month’s showing is Super Hummingbirds


Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Pollinator Pals

Saturday, May 20, 1-2:30pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Learn to identify common pollinator insects and why they are important to all living organisms. Have fun outdoors using nets and a dissecting scope to get a close-up view of our pollinator pals. 


Please register in advance by calling Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Nature Cards

Saturday, May 27, 10am-12pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Learn how to use flowers and other plant parts collected from trees, vines and other natural items to create personal notecards. Each participant will create two notecards and envelopes to take home; materials provided. 


Registration opens May 1; please register in advance by calling the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

The Great American Eclipse

Saturday, June 10, 10-11:30am

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

What is all the excitement about the total solar eclipse of August 21st? Craig Bradley, astronomy and computer science instructor at Shawnee Community College, will explain why this event is unique, what to expect, and what to do to thoroughly enjoy the experience. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Kids in the Woods: Water, Water Everywhere

Saturday, June 24, 1-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Program series by Southern Illinois Master Naturalists for families with children ages 5-10. This month, we will learn all about watersheds, water and the critters that live in it. 

Please register in advance by calling the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Bats of Illinois

Saturday, August 5, 6:30-8:30pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Illinois is home to at least 12 species of bats. Learn where they live, how common they are, their importance to humans and the environment, and methods used to research and monitor their activity. Indoor program from 6:30-7:30pm is followed by an optional field trip to experience bats’ evening emergence. 

Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

View Total Solar Eclipse

Monday, August 21, 9am-4pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

The grounds of the Wetlands Center should be a great place to view the first total solar eclipse over the U.S. since 1979. The main parking lot and an overflow area will be available, on a first-come, first-served basis. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Reptiles in the Neighborhood

Saturday, August 26, 1-4pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center/Heron Pond Trail

How familiar are you with the common reptiles of southern Illinois? Can you tell a venomous snake from the harmless ones? Do you know which skink has a blue-tipped tail, or how to recognize if a box turtle is male or female? Join Tony Gerard for an up close and personal interaction with reptiles and amphibians native to southernmost Illinois. The one-hour indoor program concludes with an optional hike to look for cold-blooded creatures at Heron Pond. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Cache River Days

Saturday, September 9, all day

Location: Ball Park, Ullin, IL

This year, for the first time ever, NATURE FEST and CACHE RIVER DAYS will be joining forces! Festivities will be headquartered at the Ullin Ball Park, but will also include special displays at the Cache River Wetlands Center and guided tours at various points of interest throughout the Cache River Wetlands. Celebrate the Cache with live wildlife exhibits, nature activities, arts & crafts, live music, food and more. Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge will provide free canoe tours throughout the day. 

Limited space on tours, register in advance by calling Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.

Kids in the Woods: Fur and Feathers

Saturday, September 16, 1-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Program series by Southern Illinois Master Naturalists for families with children ages 5-10. This month, we will take a guided walk to learn about birds and animals, and create a leaf and twig collage or a bird nesting materials ball. 


Please register in advance by calling the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Monarch Phenomenon

Saturday, September 23, 10am-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

The magnificent monarch butterfly migrates up to 2,500 miles from North America to central Mexico for the winter. Monarch Watch Association has been tagging and monitoring migrating monarchs since 1992. Join us for a program from 10-11am to learn all about monarchs, and then spend the rest of the day capturing, tagging and releasing butterflies. Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Guided Walk to Heron Pond and Little Black Slough

Saturday, October 14, 9am-12pm

Location: Cache River State Natural Area

Enjoy a colorful fall hike along the Heron Pond and Little Black Slough trails, and learn more about the area’s history, flora and fauna. Meet at the Heron Pond Trail parking lot. 


Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Guided Van Tour on Tunnel Hill State Trail

Friday, October 27, four trips scheduled throughout the day

Location: Meet at Cache River Wetlands Center

Enjoy the fall foliage and learn more about the wildlife, history and hydrology of the Cache River Watershed on this guided van tour for senior citizens and persons with physical limitations. The tour will explore a section of the Tunnel Hill State Trail between Vienna and the Cache River Wetlands Center.
Limited seats; please register in advance by calling the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Winter Plant I.D.

Saturday, November 11, 1-3pm

Location: Cache River Wetlands Center

Discover the beauty of the winter remains of summer-flowering plants and grasses, and learn how to identify them by their seedpods and silhouettes. 

Questions, call the Wetlands Center at 618-657-2064.

Annual Christmas Bird Count

Monday, December 18, 6am-sunset

Location: Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge

This annual all-day census of early winter bird populations has been conducted throughout the U.S. for more than 100 years, resulting in the longest-running database in ornithology. All ages and skill levels welcome. 

Questions, call Cypress Creek at 618-634-2231.