By: John Griffee
Those that visit park websites for information in the area may see a common theme that pops up in a majority of park features: the Indiana Birding Trail. While Indiana is considered a mundane state compared to other hotspots, the state is home to an incredibly diverse amount of avian life.
Thanks to the proximity of the area to major geographical features, Indiana contains sixty-six total spots marked on the state-wide trail. Northwestern Indiana in particular can claim to a large amount of spots that are part of the Indiana Birding Trail. Some of the local birding spots include Bendix Woods County Park, Potato Creek State Park, St. Patrick’s County Park and the list goes on.
Birdwatching is a primarily fee-free activity, outside of costs to enter into parks. While many parks offer marked birdwatching areas, feeder set ups or camera feeds of nests, birdwatchers don’t have to go very far to see special sights. Seasonal migration brings birds from the far north to northern Indiana.
The Dark-Eyed Junco spends its summers in Canada before popping into the northern United States for a considerably more temperate winter.
The amount of resources and information available for the beginner in birdwatching in this state is astounding. The Indiana Birding Trail’s website has a multitude of helpful pages to assist new birders into getting started, including a checklist for all of the species that can be sighted in the state.
Any person that wants to grasp the shere amount of diversity of birds in the state can see a detailed checklist that contains over 420 total species. Other resources available from just the Indiana Birding Trail’s website alone include a report of current sightings, the ability to hire a guide, detailed regional maps and an overall guide to our local bird populations.
The Indiana Audobon Society is an excellent place for beginners to start learning about what birds can be found in the area. Traditionally the most common spot people begin to start watching birds is their backyard. Recognizing this, the Indiana Audobon Society has a page just for some of the common sights in our backyards.
Some of the most beautiful birds that the area has to offer can be spotted in the backyard. In this slow transition towards spring, certain birds have begun to regain some of their iconic summer plumage. Vibrant birds generally shed their pastel like plumage for more drab and indescrepant color schemes in the winter.
The Eastern Bluebird is well known for is rust colored breast, breaking through the sea of cobalt that covers its main feathers. Our state bird, the Northern Cardinal, is iconic for its vivid cardinal red coloring. Sugarwater stations can be flooded by the incessant fighting between Ruby-throated Hummingbirds over food, followed by chance by Orioles investigating.
Aside from the traditional visitors at birdfeeders, northern Indiana can lay claim to Bald Eagle nesting sights and assisting in the restoration of Peregrine Falcon populations. Birds of prey are not absent from the area.
At Potato Creek State Park, Osprey can be seen diving into the lake to catch lunch or dinner, often looming over the shores in tree perches. The Peregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle have been of special interest in the area.
Populations once devastated have been on the return towards healthy numbers and as a result are able to be monitored by the average citizen. St. Patrick’s County Park features a pavilion with a large screen monitor that plays feed from a nesting cam, while the City of South Bend has the FalCam that looks at Peregrine Falcons.
For those interested in picking up birding as a hobby, there is no distinct lack of opportunity. Whether it be flocks of ducks in small ponds, thousands of cranes in farm fields, curated eagle nesting or simply birds in our backyards, Indiana is birdwatching heaven.
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