Birding Guide 2014

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Few places in the Midwest rival Indiana Dunes Country for great birding.

Text of Birding Guide 2014

  • 1Birding Guide

    Indiana Dunes Country

  • Reserve your Indiana Dunes Birding Backpack

    Backpacks for Birders(800) 283-8687

    Each backpack, which can be borrowed for free, includes two sets of binoculars, a birding basics book and a bird identification book, along with a list of top birds sited at each location. 3

    Table of contentsBirding the Dunes 5Migration Sensation 5Birding Hot Spots 6MapBirding Sites 16Viewing Tips 21Birding Ethics 21Indiana Dunes Country Birders Checklist 22

    Green Heron

    Yellow Warbler

    American Kestrel

    Planning your trip is easyat IndianaDunes.comReady to create your own, made-just-for-you trip to Indiana Dunes Country?

    Visit our website to build your personalized itinerary, find interactive maps, make hotel reservations and find all sorts of money-saving deals and coupons.

    Or, if youre already in the area and want personalized help, talk to a knowledgeable destination concierge at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, located at 1215 N. State Road 49 in Porter, IN.

    Indiana Dunes Tourism1215 N. State Road 49Porter, IN 46304IndianaDunes.com2 3

  • 4 5

    The dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona. They constitute a signature of time and eternity.

    Carl Sandburg

    Red-bellied Woodpecker

    Birding the DunesFew places in the Midwest rival Indiana Dunes Country for great birding. At least 369 bird species live or migrate through here, drawn to the open waters of Lake Michigan and to a landscape of beaches, dunes, woodlands, wet-lands, and prairie. Were perhaps best known for our spectacular migrations, when you can witness more than 20,000 Sandhill Cranes in a single autumn afternoon, tally a hundred hawks soar-ing over the dunes in the springtime, or catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of a Whooping Crane. But here in Indiana Dunes Country, birding also offers year-round discoveries and adventures.

    Migration SensationWhy do so many birds migrate through Indiana Dunes Country? It is because of Lake Michigan. This immense body of water profoundly affects the flight routes of migratory birds. In fall, migratory birds that have nested in the north follow the long shores of Lake Michigan south. They converge at the bottom of the lake, right here in the Indiana Dunes. Some simply stop here for a while to rest and feed. Others, including bay and sea duck species seldom recorded elsewhere in the Midwest, stay here for the winter on the open waters of the lake.

    Migrating hawks and other raptors avoid flying over large bodies of open water, since the cool water does not cre-ate the thermal wind currents on which the raptors glide. When they fly north in springtime, they funnel along the edge of the lake, rather than flying over it, so that hundreds pass over the Indiana Dunes in a single day. Though autumn raptor migration is less dramatic, since their arrival is more dispersed, notable numbers of Peregrine Falcons stream through this region in early October.

    *The Indiana Audubon Society website,, provided much of the birding

    information in this guide. Visit their website for more in-depth information on birds and birding in

    the Indiana Dunes region.

    Current bird sightings can be found at or

    Introducing the Beyond the Beach Discovery TrailExplore dozens of sites connecting Lake Michigan to the Kankakee River. Visit and follow these signs to discover them all.


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    Birding SitesBS Beverly ShoresHabitatLocated on the shore of Lake Michigan, this Important Bird Area includes both open water and beach habitat, but its most unique draw is its rare interdunal marsh. Interdunal marsh oc-curs between old dune crests, formed before the last glacial re-cession of Lake Michigan, and the current lakeside dune crests.

    BirdsSeveral state-endangered species nest in the interdunal marsh, including King Rail, Virginia Rail, Common Moorhen, and Ameri-can Bittern. Other uncommon nesting species seen here include Willow and Alder flycatchers, Marsh Wren, Prairie Warbler, and Prothonotary Warbler. On the open water, watch for migrating loons, grebes, diving ducks, jaegers, and gulls. Birders consider this among the best lakefront locations for seeing Northern Shrike in winter and know it as Shrike Alley.

    Access TipFree. Park in Lake View Picnic Area to bird the open water and beach. Bike or bird from your vehicle along Beverly Drive (particularly the west end), which bisects the interdunal habitat. Please observe no-parking rules on public roadways and respect private property boundaries.

    Broadway Ave, Beverly Shores, IN 46301(219) 395-1882

    CC Coffee Creek Watershed PreserveHabitatMother Nature meets Frank Lloyd Wright at this 157-acre preserve. Meander as long as you want on four and a half miles of trails and boardwalks. With areas for fishing, birding or just unwinding, youll be amazed how quickly an hour, or a day, will fly by.

    Birds:Birders have identified 90 species within the preserves diverse ecological habitat. Yellow-rumped and Nashville warblers, American Woodcocks, Marsh Wrens, and Dickcissels all stop over in the spring. Bridges 2, 4, 5, and 7 have gained a reputa-tion as particularly good birding spots. Try Bridge 2, south of the pavilion, for a chance to see Baltimore Orioles and Warbling Vireos.

    Access Tips:Free public parking available on the streets along Village Point Road, near the Chesterton Amphitheater located at 2401 Vil-lage Point Road. Parking is also available in thePavilion Parking lot (73 parking spots) located at 178 E. Sidewalk Road.

    State Road 49 and Voyage, Chesterton, IN 46304(219) 926-1842

    Birding Hot Spots While you can watch birds at dozens of natural areas within the Indiana Dunes region, a few of these sites offer truly outstand-ing viewing. In this guide, weve detailed the birding opportuni-ties at the regions top 13 birding hot spots. In fact, ten of these are Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas and five are considered globally significant. (More about this is in the Watch List below).

    Refer to the map on pages 16 and 17 to locate each site. Stop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to pick up a copy of the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail guide, which provides driving directions to each site as well as information about dozens of other great sites.

    Note: Important Bird AreaSite designated by the National Audubon Society as providing essential habitat for one or more species of birds. Sites are fur-ther designated as being of state, national, or global significance.

    Note: WatchListIn 2007, the American Bird Conservancy and National Audu-bon Society teamed up to create the United States WatchList of Birds of Conservation Concern, identifing species in great-est need of conservation attention.

  • 8CB Cowles BogHabitatConsidered a globally significant Important Bird Area, Cowles Bog is actually a fen, not a true bog (which has no inflow or out-flow of water, other than precipitation). The fen itself is off-limits to the public, but trails traverse several uncommon habitats, in-cluding tamarack and white pine woodlands, black oak savanna, interdunal wetlands, red maple and yellow birch lowland forest, and a pristine beach along Lake Michigan.

    BirdsThe site supports several nesting wetland birds that are species of conservation concern in Indiana, including American Bittern, Sandhill Crane, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Virginia Rail, American Black Duck, and a significant population of Marsh Wren. Other uncommon species seen here include Whip-poor-will, American Woodcock, Solitary Sandpiper, Sedge Wren, and Rusty Blackbird. Be sure to allow time to hike the trails, which will lead you through several distinct habitats.

    Access TipFree.

    North Mineral Springs Road, Porter, IN 46304(219) 395-1882

    HS Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird SanctuaryHabitatNeotropical songbirds hug the shore of Lake Michigan during migration and funnel through Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary in astonishing numbers. Thats why birders have long referred to this site as The Migrant Trap. Though just 16 acres in size and surrounded by industry, the park provides a critical stopover for migrants, offering a mix of grass, woodland, and beach habitats. It is part of the State Line/Calumet Region Important Bird Area.

    BirdsYoull see a host of migrating songbirds here in spring and fall, including wrens, thrushes, vireos, warblers, and sparrows. Spe-cific species of note seen here include Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, LeContes Sparrow, Long- and Short-eared owls (rare), and Eared Grebe.

    Access TipFree. Turn into the Horseshoe Casino entrance and take an imme-diate right at the end of the entrance ramp. The parking lot is gated and visitors need to show identification. While there are three en-trances to the site, two may be locked depending on time of year. The entrance on the far eastern end of the site is always open.

    701 Casino Center Drive, Hammond, IN 46320(219) 659-7678



    SP Indiana Dunes State ParkHabitat More than 2,000 acres of lake, beach, foredunes, dune forests, swamps, prairie, and savanna habitat make up this Important Bird Area. Of the parks 16.5 miles of trails, trails 2 and 10 are birding favorites. Trail 2 circles the Great Marsh on a mile-long boardwalk. Trail 10 traverses dune, beach, woodland, and savanna habitats. The bird observation platform near the west parking lot offers spectacular views of longshore birds in the spring