The Great Lakes region is a wonderful destination for birders in the U.S. with its long shorelines, mighty rivers, and perfect migration locales. The state of Indiana, located in the heart of the Midwest and the Great Lakes area is a wonderful hotspot of avian activity and definitely worth checking out!
- Most Common Birds — Northern Cardinal, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch
- Rare Birds — Bewick’s Wren, White-faced Ibis
- Environment of Indiana — Great Lake, lakes, lowlands, plateaus, plains, rivers, hills
- Best Time for Birdwatching Travel — Spring and autumn months during the migratory seasons are the best time for birding
Top 5 Indiana Birding Trails & Areas
If you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Hoosier State for some good old fashioned birding, do yourself a favor and see if you can hit these top five birding hotspots in Indiana.
Falls of the Ohio State Park
The Falls of the Ohio State Park is located on the banks of the Ohio River off exit 0 on Interstate 65 in the state of Indiana. The Falls was originally known for the series of drops the Ohio River took over the course of two and a half miles, lowering the elevation by 26 feet. It was a sort of dangerous area for river traffic and the only hazard on the entire length of the almost 1000-mile river.
The series of drops have long since been almost entirely obliterated by various floods and rising waters, but the area is still famous for another reason. The Falls of the Ohio State Park features 220 acres of fossil beds that offer views of 390 million year old fossils. Naturally exposed, these are the largest Devonian fossil beds in the entire world.
The area is also quite famous for its magnificent birding. Birders from around the country–and indeed the world–often make trips to the Falls of the Ohio State Park to catch glimpses of a great variety of Sandpipers and Gulls.
Visit the official site of Falls of the Ohio State Park
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Spanning the distance from Gary to Michigan City, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a unique treasure trove of natural wonder found in a somewhat urban setting. The National Lakeshore encompasses 15,000 acres and features 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Some of the Lakeshore’s most famous features are the sand dunes found on the beaches, some of which rise upwards of 200 feet.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a great spot for naturalists and history buffs alike, featuring four national natural landmarks and a national historical landmark, as well.
A remarkable array of flora and fauna are found at the Indiana Dunes, drawing nature lovers from around the country to its sandy shores. But the National Lakeshore is most famous, perhaps, for the more than 350 species of birds that live there, either temporarily or permanently.
Visit the official site of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
IWC Canal Greenway
This trail, also known as the Central Canal Towpath, features two American Water Landmarks: a couple of iron bridges crafted in the 19th century. Everything about the IWC Canal Greenway is simply beautiful. Located not too far outside of Indianapolis, this path is a little slice of green heaven in the midst of urban activity.
The actual pathway is made from crushed limestone, which makes for a great walking surface. As you’re strolling along the banks of the canal or over the many beautiful bridges you’ll come across, keep your eyes open for the area’s most frequent flyers: ducks, geese, and blue herons. And hey, if you look down now and again instead of up, you may even catch sight of a turtle or two.
Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
This five-mile trail runs along a popular railway that used to carry passengers back and forth between Goshen and Middlebury during the 20th century. The tracks had a rambling nature, taking many turns and sharp curves, hence the nickname “pumpkinvine”.
The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail begins in downtown Goshen, where you will be greeted with the history of the area’s railroad, complete with plaques, interpretive signs, and a beautifully restored railroad viaduct that takes you across a creek. A quarter of a mile along and you find yourself walking through the magnificent forest that separates the town small towns. Here you’ll find a number of different songbird species.
Wabash & Erie Canal Trails – Delphi Historic Trails
The Delphi Historic Trails are a system of paths that span a total of about 10 miles, in and around the Wabash river valley and the old canal town of Delphi. A number of trails take you around this region of northwest central Indiana, but perhaps the best of the best are the Wabash & Erie Canal Trails.
These magnificent trails follow a 2-mile stretch of the Wabash & Erie Canal System. They go through city parks, over sections of Deer Creek, past historic homes on the National Registry, and offer a good deal of great birding opportunities.
Visit the official site of Wabash & Erie Canal Trails – Delphi Historic Trails
About the State of Indiana
Indiana, the Hoosier State, was the 19th state admitted to the union, in the year 1816. As far as size, population, and density is concerned, Indiana sits right in the middle of the pack–not too big and not too small. It has a major city, Indianapolis, and plenty of rural areas, full of a diverse range of people and cultures. Because it’s so “average”, it might seem, in fact, that there’s nothing incredibly special about Indiana at all. But that is where you’d be wrong.
Indiana plays home to a rich tapestry of natural wildlife. The flora and fauna of the Hoosier State has been observed and revered for time out of mind. The region in which Indiana now sits was the home of a great variety of indigenous tribes and historical Native Americans long before the union was even around to admit it as a state. And during those times, Indiana’s natural world was held in very high esteem indeed. Today, there are countless parks, preservation areas, conservation centers, and wildlife refuges that keep alive that reverent tradition, making Indiana a wonderful destination for birders and nature lovers of all ages, shapes, and sizes.