An Illinois Shorebird Primer

How well do you know shorebirds? Take this short quiz to test your knowledge. We’ll even make this an open book (OK, open magazine) and let you use your winter 2020-2021 magazine!

Thirty-seven species of shorebirds regularly migrate through Illinois and some species can be found in the state at any time of the year—from the American woodcocks and killdeer that return to Illinois mid-to-late February to the purple sandpiper that arrives in mid- to late-November.

Nuptial plumage makes identification of spring migrants fairly easy but fall shorebirds can be difficult. Regardless of the season you can learn to identify shorebirds by relative size, structure, behavior and voice, as well as bill color, shape and size.

The winter 2020-2021 edition of Illinois Audubon magazine contains the first of a series of three stories on shorebirds. Written by Sheryl DeVore and Steven D. Bailey, the series provides identification tips and prime locations for finding shorebirds in Illinois. Parts 1 and 2 will feature the major migrants and Part 3 will focus on those that nest In Illinois.

Our thanks to Patty Gillespie for crafting this quiz based on Part 1 of the shorebird series.

Learn more about the Illinois Audubon Society at