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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    InformationSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    InformationSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 422

    (As at August 2018)
Checklist

  • 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 | Paperback | ISBN: #144528 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Indianapolis

    (A Guide to the Region) | by CE Keller & TC Keller | Indiana University Press | 1993 | Paperback | 176 pages, 96 col photos, 2 maps | ISBN: 0253285348 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Compact Guide to Indiana Birds

    By Gregory Kennedy, Ken Brock & Krista Kagume | Lone Pine Publishing | 2007 | Paperback | 240 pages, Colour illustrations | ISBN: 9789768200273 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Indiana Birds

    (An Introduction to Familiar Species) | By James Kavanagh | Waterford Press | 2001 | Unbound | ISBN: 158355145X Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Indiana Birds and Their Haunts

    (A Checklist and Finding Guide) | By CF Keller | Indiana University Press | 1986 | Paperback | 206 pages, Maps | ISBN: 0253203821 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of Indiana

    By Russell E Mumford & Charles E Keller | Indiana University Press | 1984 | Hardback | 400 pages, 175 colour paintings | ISBN: 0253107369 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • State Bird

    Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Observatories
  • Chipper Woods Bird Observatory

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    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.
Museums & Universities
  • Joseph Moore Museum

Organisations
  • Amos W Butler Audubon Society

    Website
    Serving Central Indiana, including Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Brownsburg, Noblesville, and Greenwood
  • Audubon Society in Indiana

    Website
    Search for Audubon near you
  • Dunes-Calumet Audubon

    Website
    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

    Website
    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

    Website
    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

    Website
    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

    Website
    Indiana Audubon Society’s mission is to stimulate interest in birds and their protection; to serve the needs of youth, civic, church, schools and other groups by providing information concerning birds; and to educate the public concerning the necessity for conserving and preserving Indiana’s natural heritage, its unique flora and fauna.
  • Indiana Bluebird Society

    Website
    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
    The IYBC is a community for young birders across the State of Indiana to come together and support birding as a sport and to promote conservation initiatives that help sustain bird populations throughout the Americas.
  • Knob and Valley Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    KAVAS helps promote environmental awareness and offers nature programs in communities across Southern Indiana, including Jeffersonville, New Albany, Clarksville, Charlestown and Madison. We are located in the hills and the Ohio River valley of Southern Indiana (in the vicinity of Louisville, Kentucky).
  • Lights Out Indy

    Website
    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

    Website
    The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. For more than 55 years, we’ve been working in Indiana to do just that.
  • Potawatomi Audubon Society

    Website
    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

    Website
    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

    Website
    A community of informed and engaged stewards dedicated to nurturing the knowledge, enjoyment and conservation of birds and nature. 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

    Website
    Care and Rehab
  • South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society

    Website
    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

    Website
    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

    Website
    Our mission is identical to that of the National Audubon Society, but on a local level: to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.
  • Sycamore Audubon Society

    Website
    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

    Website
    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

    Website
    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
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary

    Facebook PageSatellite View
    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…
  • Hayes Arboretum

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Bird Room offers an excellent place to relax and observe our feathered friends….and a few squirrels.
  • Indiana's Nature Preserves

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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…
  • NPr Griffy Woods

    InformationSatellite View
    Griffy Lake Griffy Lake - dam drain - DSCF4386.JPG The dam drain of Griffy Lake Location Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana, United States Coordinates 39°12′00″N 86°32′00″WCoordinates: 39°12′00″N Griffy Reservoir, commonly known as Griffy Lake is a water reservoir in the city of Bloomington, Indiana. Created by a dam on Griffy Creek in the 1920s, the reservoir used to serve as the main source of drinking water for Bloomington for several decades, until that role was taken over by the larger Lake Lemon and Lake Monroe in the 1950s. A large part of the lake's forested watershed is designated as the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve.
  • NPr Thornhill

    WebpageSatellite View
    Huntington University operates Thornhill Nature Preserve for the educational enrichment of its own students and schoolchildren throughout the region. The 77-acre preserve contains a variety of diverse habitats, including evergreen and deciduous forest, a woodland pond, meadows, and wetlands. The diverse ecosystem supports a wide variety of wildflowers, trees, mammals, and birds. Opportunities for outdoor education abound on the network of maintained trails that provide access to much of the preserve property. The Reiff Nature Center, a teaching lab located on the preserve grounds, provides further opportunities for educational outreach and on-site research.
  • NR & IBA Kankakee Sands

    InformationSatellite View
    The Efroymson Restoration at Kankakee Sands is a birder's and wildflower enthusiast's paradise. The more than 7,000 acres hosts an amazing array of birds, wildflowers, plants and animals that fills the prairie with song and sights to behold. As a restoration project, the beauty of the Sands will only get better for generations to come.
  • NR Eagle Creek Park

    InformationSatellite View
    ...1,400 acres (5.7 km2) of water 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....
  • NR Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area

    InformationSatellite View
    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. Winter birds that have been recorded in the area include northern harrier, rough-legged hawk, and short-eared owl, American pipit, Lapland longspur and snow bunting have also been seen. Large flocks of sparrows seem to be especially attracted to the stands of planted prairie grasses. Clay-colored, field, vesper, Lincoln's, LeConte's, swamp, white-throated and white-crowned sparrows have all been observed from fall through winter.
  • WMA & IBA Cane Ridge & Gibson Lake

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
  • WMA Willow Slough

    InformationSatellite View
    9,956 acres (40.29 km2) of varied geography including a 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) lake attract many wildlife species like deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, hawks, owls, osprey, bald eagles, and a variety of songbirds.
  • WS South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society

    WebpageSatellite View
    The South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society (SBEAS) owns a 30+ acre wildlife sanctuary at 59395 Clover Road, just outside Mishawaka city limits. The property features forested and grassy areas, as well as ponds and streams. Trails crisscross the entire acreage.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Indiana Audubon Forum

    Discussion Group
    Welcome to the Indiana Audubon Society Birding Discussion Group. This group exists to give Indiana birders a place to share ideas and opinions about news and issues of interest to overall birding community.
  • Indiana Rare Bird Alert

    News & Sightings
    INDIANA RARE BIRD ALERT (IRBA) is a place for birders to post sightings of rare or hard to find bird species in Indiana in a timely, easy to follow format. Our main goal is to provide concise, up-to-date information regarding
Guides & Tour Operators


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

  • Indigo Birding

    Tour Operator
    Welcome to IndiGo Birding Nature Tours, your personalized guide service to the beautiful outdoors in south-central Indiana. My name is David Rupp, and my goal is to provide you with the exact tour experience you desire.
Trip Reports


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

  • 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...
  • 2017 [05 May] - Graeme Wright - Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario

    PDF Report
    This was a short trip designed to get my first experience of North America Warblers and whatever else might be around...
Places to Stay


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  • Always Inn B&B

    Accommodation
    Here you'll find a relaxed country setting
  • Mulberry Inn & Gardens B&B

    Accommodation
    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…
Other Links
  • Birds of Benton County

    PDF
    Checklist etc.
  • Birds of Madison County

    Website
    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.
  • Cincinnati Birds

    Website
    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…
  • Indiana Dunes Bird Watching

    Website
    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

    Website
    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.
Blogs
  • Eric & Rob Ripma - Nutty Birder

    Blog
    Last updated 2016
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - John Cassady

    Gallery
    Excellent pix from one of Indiana's own

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