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State of Indiana

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis ©John Cassady Website

Birding Indiana

Indiana has a rich birding history despite being the smallest state, excepting Hawaii, west of the Appalachian Mountains. Over 415 bird species have been observed in the state and it is not unusual for birders to see more than 250 species in a year. Several birders have topped 300 or more species in a single year with 313 being the Big Year record for the state. Indiana has many birding destinations awaiting you and many resources available right from your keyboard.

A seemingly endless hardwood forest that stretched from Lake Michigan down to the Ohio River once carpeted Indiana. The one noticeable break in the forest was a large tallgrass prairie that existed in parts of northwestern Indiana. Of course, man has broken up most of the forest and the prairie remnants are a pittance of their former glory. But birds certainly can be found in the remaining patches. The relative flatness of northern Indiana along with many lakes and wetlands are due to the advancing and then retreating ice pack during the most recent ice age. Much of southern Indiana was untouched by glaciation and is therefore hilly and home to Indiana's largest forests.

Northwest Indiana birding is dominated by the 41-mile Lake Michigan shoreline. It is here, given the right conditions and time of year, that you may see jaegers (skuas); rare gulls, and sea ducks. More rare birds have been seen along or near the Lake Michigan shoreline than anywhere else in the state. Ken Brock covers the Birds of the Indiana Dunes wonderfully in his book of the same title. Also in northwest Indiana are remnant prairie patches with efforts underway to restore additional prairie. This is the best spot in the state to see prairie species and certain birds are at their eastern-most regular breeding range. Northeast Indiana benefits from the bird-rich Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area and many state parks and nature preserves.

Central Indiana has been heavily developed but you can find exciting birding spots such as Shades and Turkey Run State Parks in west-central Indiana and Summit Lake State Park in east-central Indiana. Even in Indianapolis, the state capital and the largest city, Eagle Creek Park and Fort Harrison State Park are rich in birds and birders. Southwestern Indiana is coal country with several reclaimed strip mines that attract prairie and grassland species. Eagle Creek Park is likely the most-birded location in Indiana and is home to an Ornithology Center providing education for the public and assistance to birders. Much of the south-central and southeastern part of Indiana is hill country and large forest tracts abound.

Indiana has a variety of habitats and many locations to keep you busy birding for a day or for several weeks. Indiana birders as well as visiting twitchers to the state are fortunate to have one of the most impressive resources in the On-line Guide to Indiana Birding. Even before the property was dedicated in 2009, the 8,000-acre Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Green County was producing amazing bird species and numbers. It is one of the country's largest wetland restoration projects and is already altering migration patterns for some species such as American White Pelican and Sandhill Crane. Visit the Indiana Audubon Society website for this valuable resource to dozens of birding locations and start planning your trip today!

Top Sites

Cane Ridge WMA & Gibson Lake


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Gibson Lake/Cane Ridge IBA supports the one of only two known "interior" Least Tern nesting colonies east of the Mississippi River. The area also provides critical wetland habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls. Gibson Lake, located in the northern portion of this IBA, is a 3000-acre cooling reservoir owned and operated by Cinergy's Gibson Generating Station. Because of the introduction of warm water discharge created from coal-fired power generation, the lake stays open in the winter, offering habitat for thousands of geese and ducks when other local wetlands are frozen. Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area (440 acres), a North American Waterfowl Management Plan project which is administered as a unit of the nearby Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge, is located directly south of Gibson Lake…

Eagle Creek Park, Marion County


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Eagle Creek Park is the largest park in Indianapolis, and one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. It is located at 7840 W. 56th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana and covers approximately 1,400 acres (5 km²) of a reservoir and 3,900 acres (16 km²) of land. There are about 10 miles (16 km) of paths within it. Eagle Creek Park serves primarily as a nature reserve…

Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Greene County


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Although the Goose Pond restoration project is young, the area has already begun to attract an impressive array of birds. Shorebirds, waterfowl, sparrows, bitterns and rails are just a few of the groups using this developing mix of grassland, marsh and open water habitats….

Kankakee Sands Nature Preserve and Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area, Newton County


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Kankakee Sands takes its name from its sandy soils, which support globally significant oak barrens, prairies and sedge meadows. This region offers rich habitat for birds and small animals. The Mskoda Sands preserve contains some of the best examples of black oak barrens in the Midwest. Unspoiled sand dunes and swales stretch as far as the eye can see.

Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area is an area deticated to providing hunting and fishing opportunities while maintaining 9,956 acres (40.29 km2), 1,800 of which are open water, marshes, and flooded crop land…

Lake Michigan Lakefront sites from Hammond to Michigan City


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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a treasure of diverse natural resources located within an urban setting. The national lakeshore features communities that have both scientific and historic significance to the field of ecology…


Don Gorney

President - Amos W. Butler Audubon Society

Indianapolis, IN



Number of Species

Number of bird species: 420

As of November 2016


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Atlas of Breeding Birds of Indiana

J Hopkins,E Keller,C Castrale Indian DNR

ISBN: 144528

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Indianapolis

C E Keller Hardcover - 160 pages (1 October, 1993) Indiana University Press

ISBN: 0253331196

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Compact Guide to Indiana Birds

Gregory Kennedy and Ken Brock Lone Pine Publishing due March 2007

ISBN: 9789768200273

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Indiana Birds

An Introduction to Familiar Species James Kavanagh Waterford Press 2001

ISBN: 158355145X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Indiana

Russell E. Mumford, Charles E. Keller Hardcover - 376 pages (October 1984) Indiana University Press.

ISBN: 0253107369

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

State Bird

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis


Amos W Butler Audubon Society


Serving Central Indiana, including Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Brownsburg, Noblesville, and Greenwood

Audubon Society in Indiana


Search for Audubon near you…

Dunes-Calumet Audubon


The purpose and objectives of the Dunes-Calumet Audubon Society shall be to engage in any such educational, scientific, investigative, literary, historical, philanthropic, and charitable pursuits as may be part of the stated purposes of the National Audubon Society… PO Box 447, Hammond, IN 46325-0447, 219-931-4352 - Lynda McGinnis, President

Eagle Creek Park Foundation


In 1978, it became apparent that municipal funding for Eagle Creek Park would not be sufficient in order for the remarkable natural resource to meet its full potential. That’s when members of a watchdog group called the Eagle Creek Park Advisory Committee recognized the need for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to help raise money for unfunded park projects, and formed the Eagle Creek Park Foundation.

Evansville Audubon Society


The mission of The Evansville Audubon Society is to promote the awareness, appreciation and preservation of birds and other wildlife and their habitats through education and conservation…

Friends of Goose Pond


Friends of Goose Pond (FoGP) was established to support the goals of wildlife conservation and habitat restoration at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area through environmental education, scientific research and recreational activities and programs…

Indiana Audubon Society


The guide is the result of many hours of volunteer effort by birders from all across the state. Look for more sites and bird information to be added as this project continues to grow.

Indiana Bluebird Society


The Indiana Bluebird Society has been up and online for approximately 5 months. Already we are priviledeged to have had over 2000 hits. And with the additional items we've added we want everyone to keep coming back. We have added a few things that everyone will be interested in. For one there are three nestbox designs on the same page that has pictures…

Indiana Young Birders Club

Facebook Page

Field Trips, Newsletters, Conservation Projects, Friendships/ Connections, Educational Programs…

Knob and Valley Audubon Society


We are located in the hills and the Ohio River valley of Southern Indiana (in the vicinity of Louisville, Kentucky)…

Lights Out Indy


Lights Out Indy is an initiative of the Amos W. Butler Audubon Society. Working with partners, such as the City of Indianapolis and building managers, the mission of the program is preventing bird deaths and saving energy by promoting bird-safe buildings and reducing nighttime lighting…

Nature Conservancy in Indiana


Whilst the photos on the opening page are lovely this site does not quite live up to some of the new NC sites in other states… the info is there but a bit basic.

Potawatomi Audubon Society


Birds were our beginnings, and Audubon remains dedicated to birding as the basis for our mission to conserve and restore our natural ecosystems, focusing on birds…

Robert Cooper Audubon Society


The Robert Cooper Audubon Society, Inc. (RCAS), is a regional chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving approximately 500 members in east central Indiana, in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, and Randolph Counties. We meet the second Monday of every month, excluding July and August, for a program about nature, natural history, or conservation. We also organize six to ten field trips each year…

Sassafras Audubon Society


The Sassafras Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society serving the Indiana counties of Monroe, Lawrence, Owen, Greene, Morgan, Brown and Bartholomew…

Soarin' Hawk Avian Rescue Center


Care and Rehab

South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society


The South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society, with about 1,000 members, brings bird lovers of all ages together by offering membership meetings to discuss birding issues and conservation concerns, providing field trips to local natural areas, and hosting many educational opportunities each year. The Society also owns a private bird sanctuary, which is home to many native birds and wildflowers.

Southwestern Indiana Master Naturalist Association


The mission of the Indiana Master Naturalist program is to bring together natural resource specialists with adult learners to foster an understanding of Indiana's plants, water, soils and wildlife, and promote volunteer service in local communities…

Stockbridge Audubon Society


PO Box 13131, Fort Wayne, IN 46864 - The Stockbridge Audubon Society is a non-profit organization that promotes the awareness, understanding, enjoyment and stewardship of the environment and natural resources of Northeastern Indiana. Birds were our beginnings, and we remain dedicated to birding as the basis for our mission to conserve and restore our natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity…

Sycamore Audubon Society


Organized in 1975, SAS is a chapter of the National Audubon Society - a world wide environmental oganization. SAS's membership consists of National Audubon Society members living in Benton, Carroll, Clinton, Tippecanoe, Warren, and White counties. Membership in the National Audubon Society and residence in one of those counties automatically involves membership in SAS. With over 500 members, the Sycamore Audubon Society is the largest environmental group in mid-north Indiana. The chapter is named for a race of the Yellow-throated Warbler which nests in sycamore trees along Indiana's waterways, and is thus called the Sycamore Warbler…

Tippecanoe Audubon Society


The Tippecanoe Audubon Society supports conservation and environmental education to promote appreciation, understanding, and preservation of birds, other wildlife, and diverse ecosystems for present and future generations.

Wabash Valley Audubon Society


The Wabash Valley Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society. We have monthly meetings (Sept. - May) in Terre Haute, Indiana. We sponsor field trips, speakers, school programs, conservation issues and a Christmas Bird Count…


Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

Griffy Woods Nature Preserve


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Winter Bird Feeding & Watching. Children ages 6 - 12 will learn how to attract wild birds to their back yard by providing the right habitat and creative bird feeders. Participants will also get a chance to view bird life and learn a little about Indiana birds.

Hayes Arboretum


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The Bird Room offers an excellent place to relax and observe our feathered friends….and a few squirrels.

Indiana's Nature Preserves


Indiana's Nature Preserves are the real hidden treasures of the state. They have everything that the state parks have, and more - except people. With a few exceptions, the Nature Preserves are rarely visited; even when there are actually other people out there, you may never see them. If wildflowers or birds are in your line, this is the place to find the most unusual and interesting. The scenery can also be spectacular (for Indiana) and of interest. The Nature Preserve system is a collaboration between a number of groups and state agencies; the Nature Conservancy, ACRES, NICHES and other local or regional groups, universities, counties and the Department of Natural Resources have worked together to save the most unique and interesting pieces of Indiana…

Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary

Facebook Page

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The Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary is owned and operated by the Indiana Audubon Society. The late Congressman Finley H. Gray and his wife Alice Green Gray gave the Society 652 acres as a living memorial to their daughter who never fully recovered from a childhood illness…

South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary


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The 40 acre South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society wildlife sanctuary features forested and grassy areas, as well as ponds and streams. Trails criss-cross the entire acreage…

Thornhill Nature Preserve


The Thornhill Nature Preserve was acquired by Huntington College in 1967 through a Nature Conservancy Loan made possible by Mabel Thorne. The 77-acre nature preserve was owned by Ms. Thorne, a local teacher, who believed not only in the value of education…

Forums & Mailing Lists


Mailing List

To subscribe to list: majordomo@ucs.indiana.edu

Mailing List – Discussion Group - Discussion of birds around Bloomington, Indiana


Mailing List

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Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2001 [05 May] - Lynea Hinchman - Indiana Dunes


My Big May Day encompasses Indiana Dunes State Park and the Heron Rookery portion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Indiana Dunes State Park is adjacent to the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan. Its proximity to the lake and its wealth of habitat diversity contribute strongly to the wealth of bird diversity found within the park. The Heron Rookery is a unit of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore…

2015 [05 May] - Håkan Sivencrona

PDF Report

...At 8, I think, a lot of people arrived. Some very fresh while others were quite seasoned in the birdwatching guild. Anyway Mr. Don, a very timid man, humble as well, welcomed us. And at the very first time we started to talk we came back to my questions of one specific bird that I wanted to see, the Cerulean Warbler. And yes, that was also among the first bird he showed me...

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Always Inn B&B


Here you'll find a relaxed country setting ……birds singing, butterflies floating above the fragrant flower gardens, a gentle breeze rustling the leaves, frogs croaking at the nearby pond, and the sounds of laughter and conversation from the wrap around deck…

Anchor Inn B&B


Bob attended college at the University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho and received a degree in Wild Life Management…

Mulberry Inn & Gardens B&B


Explore a legacy of old world charm and natural beauty in the heart of Rising Sun, Indiana. Mulberry Inn & Gardens Bed & Breakfast is set in a quiet, residential area featuring charming gardens with a quiet and relaxed atmosphere…


Chipper Woods Bird Observatory


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Chipper Woods Bird Observatory, Inc. (CWBO); founded in 1996, is a Federal and State non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors. Our mission is to bring good science to the conservation of birds and their habitats through scientific research, scientific training and educational programs designed for all age groups.


Joseph Moore Museum


…and observe birds and mammals in their natural habitat.


Nutty Birder


I am a birder and photographer from Carmel, Indiana. I have traveled around Indiana and the US to find birds and photograph wildlife. I attend Indiana University and worked for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory during the summer of 2008 doing field work in the Black Hills of South Dakota and throughout North Dakota. Eric Ripma

I am a birder and beginning nature photographer originally from Indiana but now living in Florence, Kentucky. I am passionate about wildlife and wildlife conservation. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a marketing degree. Rob Ripma

Other Links

Backyard Birding in Indiana


Welcome to Backyard Birding. This site is dedicated to the birds of Indiana, especially those who visit our backyard. We hope that you will find this site useful as an aid to identification.

Birding in Cincinnati


Although it's not a prime destination for traveling birders, Cincinnati provides plenty of interesting birding opportunities. This web site is intended to help both local and visiting birders find birds in this area…

Birds of Benton County


Checklist etc.

Birds of Madison County


These are birds we have observed in and near our home in Madison County, Indiana. Most have been found in the city of Anderson along the banks of Killbuck Creek and White River, or in Shadyside Park, including the wetlands and the Shadyside Lakes. For a detailed, annotated map of the area see map and directions.

Indiana Dunes Bird Watching


Because the Indiana dunes has so many diverse habitats, the opportunity to view a great variety of birds nesting here are numerous! During the spring and fall migration, the enormous size of Lake Michigan has a funneling effect on the path the birds must take. Which, again gives the birder a rare opportunity to view many species not normally seen together. With the help of local experts like Mr. Kenneth J. Brock, local photographers and the naturalists at the Indiana Dunes State park, I hope this site will someday provide an accurate impression of what the area has to offer the birder.

Wayne County Birding


Hayes Regional Arboretum - a living museum, offering nature programs, hiking facilities, and nature center. Of special interest is the bird room that allows you to watch birds at numerous feeders from a comfortable, indoor space. A nice surprise is the well-placed microphone that allows you to hear the birds as well.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - John Cassady


Excellent pix from one of Indiana's own…