Get Involved

We are working to grow our cadre of local volunteers to help restore and re-create native communities at the Silver Creek Preserve – Tarbox Unit. Volunteers are working to restore the woodland areas and to build and maintain trails. Activities include brush and wood cutting, and weed removal. As we become more familiar with the area and a detailed management plan is created, additional volunteer opportunities will become available. Everyone is welcome to help!

In addition to stewardship activities, bird walks and evening campfires are planned. Please check our calendar – or contact us directly if you'd like to get involved.

The Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve is open to all visitors anytime during daylight hours. Permitted activities include hiking, bird watching, nature photography, frog listening and botanizing. Horses, dogs, cats, bikes and off-road vehicles are not allowed.


and Events

Check out our full calendar of activities, events, and educational opportunities. You're sure to find something to interest you. Please join us!

Events include:

  • Monthly educational programs and issues discussions
  • Local bird walks
  • Field trips
  • Preserve work days

For more details, see the current newsletter.


Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
September 29 Birdseed Sale Order Deadline!... >

Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
Full Moon Campfire at Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve... >

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023
Program: Update from Illinois Evironmental Council, 2023 Annual Report... >

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023
Field Trip: Maquoketa Caves State Park... >


Northwest Illinois Audubon Society is a chapter of National Audubon Society, Inc.


Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve

The Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve is located directly south of the town of Leaf River in northern Ogle County.

This Preserve, acquired by the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society in 2012, protects almost 50 acres – of which 35 are wooded. It includes an oak-hickory forest which is a globally rare natural community type. The Silver Creek brochure contains more details and trail maps, or download just the trail map.

Over 40 species of trees and shrubs have been documented on the Preserve thus far. Our list of species identified on the Preserve is steadily growing.

What Will You See?

Within the Preserve's forested area, wetlands and two branches of spring-fed Silver Creek provide habitat for many species of native plants and animals. Among the more than 50 species of birds sighted to date is the Red-headed Woodpecker – a "critical species" in the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.

The remaining 15 unforested acres of the Silver Creek Preserve are currently in the USDA Conservation program with a warm season grass cover and acres of planted pollinating oak savannah habitat.

The Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve is located directly south of Leaf River on the southwestern corner of the intersection of Leaf River and West Grove Roads.

The parking area is just south of the intersection, on the west side of Leaf River Rd. Silver Creek Illinois Preserve Directions

Interactive Google map

Why Is This Called a "Biodiversity Preserve?"

The term biodiversity refers to the variety of biological units in the area. Both Northwest Illinois Audubon Society Preserves have many local populations of native species to build from. Our stewardship activities on each Preserve revolve around creating conditions to expand these local populations. As we become more familiar with each preserve, we are discovering more and more native species waiting for our loving touch.

Read more about biodiversity...

How Can You Help?


Donations to help sustain Silver Creek are always welcome. We are currently building a fund to complete the parking area, create a visitor's kiosk and a small crossing over Silver Creek.

Please visit both of our preserves and join our Society if you'd like to get the bimonthly newsletter and stay well informed.

The History of the
Silver Creek Preserve

In 2012, the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society was given the Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve by Mrs. Joanne Tarbox Styles, a former elementary teacher for the Leaf River school district.

In 1942, Joanne and her husband Hascy purchased this property, and Joanne took her students there on field trips at the end of each school year. When her husband Hascy had passed away in 1991, Joanne wanted to make sure that the land they loved so much was preserved in perpetuity. A conservation easement held by the Natural Land Institute has been placed on the property to ensure it will remain protected forever. At Mrs. Styles request, the protected natural area had been named Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve: Tarbox Unit, in memory of Hascy Tarbox, who was a professional wildlife artist.

In honor of Mrs. Styles, who had passed away in 2016, the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society strives to continue her devotion to teaching young people about the natural world by maintaining both community and school educational opportunities here.

Contact us if you'd like to help.

The Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve – Tarbox Unit is especially exciting, not only for what it is, but also for the opportunity to work toward the dream of Joanne Tarbox Styles. Joanne hoped that the land could one day become a nature preserve where people could go to learn about the creatures which are found in its various habitats. As we work toward re¬≠establishing the pre-settlement landscape, that wish will be fulfilled and expanded.” – Keith Blackmore, Volunteer