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Chautauqua NWR Wildflower Display

Chautauqua NWR Wildflower Display

Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, Mason County

Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge is located adjacent to the Illinois River a few miles upstream of Havana, about 125 miles from the Mississippi River. Water levels within the refuge, behind the levee system, can be manipulated by a series of spillways and pumps. During years when the water levels are drawn low during the summer, parts of the refuge are completely disconnected from the river; in such areas, a rich wetland community develops, culminating with a spectacular wildflower display in September. These yellow flowers in turn draw thousands of monarch butterflys en route to their migratory destinations. From July through October, mudflats attract thousands of migrating shorebirds, and the shallow waters attract a variety of foraging herons and egrets. When the bulk of the migrating waterfowl pass through in the fall, there usually is a great abundance of food available, from seeds to invertebrates to fish.