By Gabby Davis
There is nothing more peaceful than birdwatching. Being surrounded by nature, listening to the calls of the various species of birds, and feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin. In Indiana, there are many spots to choose from that are perfect for birdwatching and here are the five best birdwatching hikes for all the bird lovers out there!
With over 8,000 acres of wetland, upland, and woodland habitats, the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area near Medaryville, Indiana, is the prime spot for birdwatchers. The area provides an ideal stop over for birds that are migrating, particularly sandhill cranes. The best time to see the cranes is near sunrise, when the birds fly out of the marshes to the nearby Goose Pasture and surrounding areas to feed, and then again at sunset, when the cranes migrate back to Goose Pasture and the surrounding marshes.
Another popular spot in Indiana for birdwatching is the Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife area in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. The area is nestled between the Ohio River and the Wabash River floodplains in southern Indiana. There are over 7,000 acres, with 1,400 of those acres made up of sloughs, marshes, and bottomland hardwood forest areas. Here, birdwatchers can see a variety of songbirds, raptors, and other waterfowl through the birdwatching observation area available to visitors.
Head down to southern Morocco, Indiana, to find some of the best birdwatching that Indiana has to offer. The area is over 9,000 acres, with over 1,000 acres of open water, marshes, and flooded crop areas. Because of its enormous amount of wetlands available, the Willow Slough area attracts a variety of birds and other waterfowl. From gulls and terns, herons, grassland birds, warblers, swallows and more, there are so many birds to see at Willow Slough. Occasionally visitors will see rare species of birds such Ross’s goose, black rail, yellow-headed blackbird, and even a few osprey and bald eagles from time to time. It’s also the perfect place to hear the owls sing their songs at night.
The Indiana Dunes State Park located in northern Chesterton, Indiana, is the perfect place for birdwatchers. The southern tip is an important area for feeding and resting migrating birds. Because of its location, the Dunes attracts a variety of bird species and influences their migrating patterns, such as black and white warblers, laughing gull, Connecticut warblers, yellow-billed cuckoo, and many more. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced birdwatcher, Indiana Dunes is the best place to be. Be sure to take part in the Indiana Dunes Bird Watching Festival, a four-day event in which avid birdwatchers come from around the world to see migrating birds and discover new species.
Owned and operated by the City of Indianapolis, Eagle Creek Park is the largest park in Central Indiana at just over 5,000 acres. It’s made up of various upland and wetland habits, and is regarded as being a critical location for breeding, migrating, and over-wintering bird populations thanks to the park’s size, diversity of habitat, and a large body of water within the park. Of the many birds and other waterfowl that reside within and migrate to the park are several endangered species, such as red-shouldered hawks, black and white warblers, as well as hooded warblers, which are extremely rare for Indiana. Other species include field sparrow and brown thrashers. The park is also home to many non-releasable birds of prey, such as hawks, falcons, vultures, and owls.