Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)- Indiana Dunes Birding Festival



What is the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival? Organized and hosted by Indiana Audubon, the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival is a four day event to highlight the great birding and nature viewing in one of the greatest bird migration stopover sites in the Great Lakes region. Its proximity to Chicago and Indianapolis makes it a convenient place for both birders and nature enthusiasts. 
Where is the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival headquarters? The festival headquarters are at the Indiana Dunes National Park Visitor Center (1215 N State Rd 49, Porter, IN 46304).
Where can I eat and stay during the festival? The festival website gives many great suggestions for both lodging and food services. The Indiana Dunes Tourism website also has resources available for folks new to the area. Each day of the festival features a food truck at the Festival Headquarters parking lot at the Indiana Dunes Tourism Visitor Center.
Where do I check-in for the festival? You can check-in at the Visitor Center. Check-in begins on Wednesday evening before the festival. It will be open every day of the festival from 6am-4pm. We encourage you to stop by Wednesday evening if you are in town early.
Who do I contact if I have questions? You can email our team at info@indunesbirdingfestival.com
Where can I view the festival's Terms and Conditions The IDBF Terms and Conditions can be read Here.





When can I register for the festival? March 1 at 10am CT for Indiana Audubon members | March 3 at 10am CT for the general public.
How do I register for the event? IAS members will receive a special email invitation to register early. The general public can access registration by clicking on the "Register Now" button on this website, which will appear on March 3 at 10am CT. Stay tuned for a video walkthrough of the registration process!
What does registration include? Basic registration (adult and youth) includes free entry to the Indiana Dunes State Park, all headliner and afternoon presentations, and access to sign up for field trips. Field trips, workshops, and evening socials require an additional cost that varies depending on the session type.
I am an Indiana Audubon member. How do I register early? You will receive an email invitation to the email address associated with your Indiana Audubon membership. This invitation will come from our registration platform (Cvent) and contain a special link to access the early registration page. There will be NO CODES early registration codes needed again this year.
If I am an Indiana Audubon member, can I register another person at the same time who is not a member? Yes. You may register one non-IAS member during the early registration period. However, it is important that YOU (the IAS member) register as the main participant and add the extra person as a guest. If you register your guest first, the system will block you from registration since they do not have an IAS membership.
What payments do you accept? We only accept credit card payments at this time.
Will I get a confirmation of my field trips once I register? Yes- you will receive an email confirmation and code upon registration. Please keep this email in the event that something happens and/or you would like to alter your registration.
Can I change the sessions I signed up for after I register? Yes- you will be able to go through your confirmation email and alter your registration, if you so choose.
The field trips I want are full. Do you have a waiting list? Waiting lists will be open starting March 3 at 12pm CT. Please log back into the registration website and add yourself to the waiting list for your chosen field trips.
If I am on the waiting list, how will I know if a spot has opened up? Waitlist participants will receive an email to sign up for any open spots that become available. These will be sent in order of the waitlist sign ups and each person will have 48 hours to respond, before the spot opens to the next person on the waitlist.
I am signing two people up but there is only 1 spot available on a field trip. Can you squeeze us in? The Indiana Dunes Birding Festival cannot guarantee spots. However, if you are passionate about this trip, please take the last remaining spot for one of your participants and sign the other participant up for the waiting list. The waitlist will be available on March 3 at 12pm CT.
Can I view which sessions are still available before registering? Yes. Please go to our festival schedule page to see the current capacity levels for each session.
I received a code for free/discounted/pre-purchased registration. How do I use it? Go through the registration process as normal. When you get to the confirmation page, you will see a "Coupon Code" box underneath your registration summary. Enter your code here and it will remove the value of your code. Then, proceed to payment.
Can I register for a single day? Yes. We have single day registration options available for those who cannot join us the entire festival.
I need help! Who do I contact? For urgent matters on the day of registration, please call us at 765-205-1255, option 1. Please leave your name and number and we will get back to you as soon as possible. For less urgent matters, you can email the planning team at info@indunesbirdingfestival.com.




How is the birding during this time? Birding on the southern shore of Lake Michigan in May can be spectacular. Birding can be weather dependent, but early May can bring cool north wind rains as well as warm south winds pushing migrants in every few days. Warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and other songbirds are peaking in their migration. The beaches and open water can host shorebirds, waterfowl, and an assortment of other migratory species.
What birds will I see during this time? The Indiana Dunes has hosted over 370 species of birds. In short, you should expect to see most if not all of the expected eastern neo-tropic migrants and resident birds native to the Chicago region. Because of the pile up effect along Lake Michigan, a good birding day should easily yield 20 or more warbler species, with peak days finding 30 warbler species. The wetlands also host an assortment of shorebirds, waterfowl, waders, and more. We provide a birding checklist in the Birding Guide found Here.
Are there times of the day better than others? Just as birding in general is usually better in the morning, so are the lakefront birding opportunities in May. The longshore flights often occur best in the first four hours after the sunrise. Late afternoons and early evenings can also see a pickup in bird activity.
What’s the earliest and latest I can go birding in the dunes area? For the most part, most birding sites are open dawn to dusk. The Indiana Dunes State Park has extended hours until 11pm for nocturnal birding. Your festival birding pass will get you access to all the birding sites for free.
What if we’re new to birding and have no optics? That is fine! There are backpacks for birders with binoculars available from many locations for free of cost. You can also use binoculars during the IYBC Family Birding Day at the State Park on Saturday of the festival.