Photo: More than 15 thousand cranes stop in NW Indiana on their migrations north and south each year. 

Wild birds are an important part of almost every outdoor person’s enjoyment of the natural world. Whether a person is hiking, picnicking, fishing or just sitting on a Lake Michigan beach, birds will be encountered. For some, the bird will just be a flitting glimpse, a bit of color. For others, perhaps spotting wedge of geese or a storm of swarming gulls is a momentary diversion. Birds are just a part of the overall mix which makes an outdoor activity enjoyable. 

For some people, spotting birds is the reason for being outdoors. Called “birders” these bird lovers head out with the idea of spotting as many birds as possible, perhaps get a glimpse of a not-so-common bird migrating through the area or a bird so rare, a chance sighting could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Beach Birding - Mike Schoonveld
Photo: Gulls and other birds can be a fun part of a day at the beach. 

The Indiana Audubon Society knows this and has produced an interactive map of outstanding locations across the state to guide both avid birders as well as people who just enjoy seeing a variety of birds should visit. No place in Indiana has more bird spotting hotspots than Northwest Indiana. To see the whole Indiana map go to www.indianabirdingtrail.com

Some of the most important locations listed in our corner of the state are:

Hammond Lakefront Park & Bird Sanctuary

This is one of the best locations in the urbanized region of Northwest Indiana to observe migrating song birds. This relatively short wooded strip of lakefront on Lake Michigan is a virtual oasis of vegetation among a vast urban landscape. Hammond Lakefront Park & Bird Sanctuary was once known simply as “The Migrant Trap,” since it serves as a valuable migration stopover site for multiple dozens of migrant species in both spring and fall.

Prairie Warbler. Photo: Indiana Dunes State Park


Indiana Dunes State Park

This property is the one of the greatest birding hotspots in the Midwest. The Indiana Dunes State Park fits within the boundaries of the larger Indiana Dunes National Park and consists of 2,100 acres of beautiful high dunes, extensive swamps, and rolling oak savanna woodlands as well as three miles of sandy beach. 

Bison viewing at Kankakee Sands


Kankakee Sands

Most of Kankakee Sands was once farmland in Newton County but since being acquired by The Nature Conservancy, more than 7,000 acres have been transformed into a prairie landscape complete with a large herd of bison. The restored grasslands, wet prairies, and wetlands have become a gathering area for both migrating and breeding prairie species that are generally hard to find elsewhere in Indiana. 

Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area

While much of the property is suitable for both migrating and breeding birds, most of these are overlooked by the massive Sandhill Crane gathering that occurs each spring and fall. Due to restoration work that began in the 1930s, coupled with feeding areas found in the surrounding area’s agricultural heritage, Jasper-Pulaski’ position within the eastern Sandhill Crane flyway has created the largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes east of the Mississippi River. 


These are just a few of the many birding, bird watching or just areas where birds can be an enjoyable anecdote to some other sort of outdoor activity in our area. Check out the interactive map for other locations, nearby or across the state which can put a few birds in your life.  

Again, the website is www.indianabirdingtrail.com.  
 

 

More From Captain Mike

Lake Michigan Provides “Unnaturally” Good Fishing Every Year

As a lifelong fisherman, I’ve seen lakes cycle from boom to bust or bust to boom many times. Fish populations naturally go through cycles in...
Read More

Northwest Indiana for birding or just bird enjoying

Photo: More than 15 thousand cranes stop in NW Indiana on their migrations north and south each year.  Wild birds are an important part of...
Read More

Clay Games Build Shooting Skills

Photo: Shooters at Oakwood Gun Club break clay targets for fun and to hone hunting skills. It’s surprising how many hunters put down their guns...
Read More

Big Lake Equals Big Fish - Lake Michigan Fishing

Though many good sized fish inhabit small lakes and streams, when that’s the case, the big dudes are
Read More

Honk is the Call of the Wild | Canada Geese

When I was a youngster, few things brought thoughts of wild lands and far off places into my head than hearing and seeing a Vee-shaped skein of Canada...
Read More

Shooting Ranges Along the South Shore

In rural parts of the South Shore area, it’s still possible to find a farmer or other owner of rural
Read More

The Fish Are "IN" - Lake Michigan Fishing

Every year in late winter and early spring the words "the fish are in" spreads among the fishermen who love catching coho salmon in Lake...
Read More

Question Number One - Charter Fishing on Lake Michigan

Great Lakes salmon and trout fishing started in Lake Michigan more than 50 years ago and Lake Michigan still offers the best fishing and widest...
Read More