The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.

Current Headlines

Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Reopens For General Use

Photo for: Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Reopens For General Use

Photo by Chad Merda

Now that the nesting season has concluded at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve, the site reopened for general use on Sunday, August 16. 

The preserve and its 1.45-mile crushed limestone trail is open from 8 a.m. to sunset daily through February 28.

While volunteer-led programs have typically been offered at the site in the past, those programs have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with one exception. A staff-led “Take a Hike” program will be held on November 15 for National Take a Hike Day. 

“Even without formal programs, the preserve is always a great place to go for birdwatching and taking a walk,” said Tina Riley, facility supervisor for Lake Renwick. 

Riley encouraged potential visitors to view recent videos produced by the Forest Preserve District, including one on birdwatching at the preserve and a segment featured in the District’s new show, The Buzz.


“After watching the videos to find out what is available, take a trek to the preserve to see for yourself,” she added. 

The 839-acre site has restricted access each year from March 1 through August 15 to protect the birds that nest there, including bald eagles, great blue herons, great egrets, double-crested cormorants, black-crowned night herons, songbirds and more. 

“Mid-August was chosen as the date to remove visitor restrictions to the nature preserve based mostly on about 15 years of observations on the nesting cycles of the rookery,” said Dave Robson, the Forest Preserve’s natural resource management supervisor. “By this time in a typical year, most of the nests have fledged, meaning the young birds are no longer flightless and relying on the adults for daily care, if at all.”

Also by mid-August, both young and adult birds are far less sensitive to human encroachments and the rearing of the remaining young is not likely to be negatively impacted by people using the preserve in an authorized manner, Robson added. 

In addition, this is the time of year when many of the birds prepare to migrate. 

“They stop returning to Lake Renwick on a nightly basis so the number of birds on site is starting to diminish compared to the height of the breeding season,” Robson explained.

“Many birds are just spending their days now foraging and loafing on area water bodies and will roost there for the night rather than fly back to the Lake Renwick site," he added. "Most of the individuals will migrate out of the area for the winter, but not all, particularly great blue herons. Numerous great blue herons, and what appears to be an increasing number of great egrets, attempt to overwinter in this area. Other species, such as the black-crowned night herons, seem to vacate for the winter completely.”

The preserve access is located on Renwick Road, 0.5 mile east of Route 30, in Plainfield. In addition to birdwatching, the preserve's trail can be used for hiking and running. 

Please note: dogs, bicycles and fishing are not allowed at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery because it is a protected nature preserve. Those activities are allowed at the nearby Turtle Lake Access on Lockport Street. Turtle Lake also features the paved 3.35-mile Lake Renwick Bikeway.

The preserve's other access, Copley Nature Park, includes a gazebo with mounted scopes for bird viewing.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge


Candid Capture: Bobcats Caught on Camera, a Rare Wildlife Treat


Game cameras recently photographed bobcats walking through a preserve. Photos of bobcats in the preserves are rare because the creatures are so elusive. Learn more about the game camera program with 10 questions answered by Becky Blankenship, the Forest Preserve's wildlife biologist.

Read More

Peep Some Birds This Fall With Guided Hikes


Whether you are a beginner or an expert, the Forest Preserve invites you to join a wide variety of free bird-watching programs scheduled for October through December. Register for the programs, grab your binoculars and a field guide and dress for the weather.

Read More

Stretch Your Legs with ‘Harvest Hustle’ Virtual 5K


Run 3.1 miles on one of 11 selected Forest Preserve paths in October, take a screenshot of your completed route and submit it to the District, along with fun photos of your outing. The 5K must be completed between October 1 and October 31. 

Read More

Sign up for a Newsletter