Bremer Sanctuary Was Once A Farm

   The H & B Bremer Sanctuary is located at Hillsboro, about 50 miles south of Springfield, in Montgomery County. It was given to the Illinois Audubon Society in 1977 by Helen and Betty Bremer, who wished to preserve the farm which had been in their family since 1857. They wanted to be sure the farm, the background of this page, would not be sub-divided or developed, and that it would be managed as a wildlife sanctuary. Above photo courtesy of Lynne Musgrove Marsho.

   In the background photo on this page you can see the house in the bottom left, and the barn in the center under the text box, the last structure remaining of the farm. It has been renovated and is now the meeting hall and museum of Hickory Hills Chapter. The two silos still standing are on the right side of the photo. It may be necessary to widen the page of your browser on the screen of your computer or use the slidebar on the bottom of the browser window to see the remainder of the photo.
   Just a mile north of Hillsboro, Illinois, the 203-acre wildlife, bird and nature sanctuary is located on land that is a transition between the flat farmland to the north, which was formerly tall grass prairie, and the rolling hills of the Southern Till Plain. There are a variety of habitats within the sanctuary, including oak-hickory uplands, wooded ravines, transitional fields grasslands and wetlands. Several large white and bur oaks, as well as hickories, serve as valuable mast trees providing food for wildlife.

   Many species of wild flowers, shurbs, and vines add to the plant diversity. Volunteer stewards are working to restore the savanna habitat which was lost over the years to agriculture. Sixty acres of grasses provide nesting areas for the state-endangered Henslow's sparrow. Current restoration efforts at the sanctuary also include the construction of a wetland in the Cress Creek bottom, and improving the bottomland forest with additional planting of native trees.

   Wildlife is abundant at the sanctuary, and is fully protected in accordance with the Bremer sisters' wishes. White-tail deer, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and many smaller mammals are common.

   There is also a good population of wild turkey, and the birds are often seen by visitors at the edges where the grassland and woods converge.

   Many species of song birds also reside at the sanctuary, and it is an important resting and feeding area for many neotropical migrants during spring and fall migrations.

   Ponds serve as habitat for amphibians, turtles, and a large variety of aquatic insect. In summer, dragonflies and damselflies hawk for insects over the water.

   Volunteers from Hickory Hills chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society maintain and monitor a 50-box bluebird trail. The boxes are checked weekly, between April 1 and August 15, and the results are tabulated and sent to the Illinois Bluebird Project and the North American Bluebird Society.

   These efforts are important in helping to increase the numbers of Eastern bluebirds, which must compete with the European starlings and other cavity-nesting birds for home sites. The nest boxes supplement available housing in dead snags and fenceposts on the sanctuary grounds.

   Members of the Hickory Hills Chapter also maintain the trails, the education center, and the nearby Bremer Memorial Area. The Chapter hosts several meetings and public events at the sanctuary each year. School and youth groups from Hillsboro and other nearby communities are encouraged to visit the sanctuary and use it as a natural science learning laboratory. Parking and restroom facilities are available at the site.

   Click here for a copy of the trail map at Bremer Sanctuary. You'll need Acrobat Reader.