Friday the 15th

Each day consists of tour options and afternoon sessions at our various festival locations. Events and presentations labeled “FREE” are included
with the price of general registration. Additional fees apply for select tours, workshops, and the Saturday night keynote event. Please remember, all times are Central Daylight Time (Chicago time).

Download the 2020 Program Guide Here! 

Sunrise Birding at Michigan City Harbor

 $5 / 5:00 – 10:00am / Leader: Richard Garrett and Bill Sharkey

Dawn birding is amazing in the dunes. Richard and Bill will guide you for sunrise surprises on the beaches along the eastern Indiana Dunes National Park lakefront. From there we’ll explore the dawn chorus in the best migrant hotspots nearby. Space is limited on this new carpool tour.

Birding by Bus with Marc and Eliana 

$25 / 6:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Marc Kramer and Eliana Ardila Ardila

Marc & Eliana’s epic road quest to explore birds and nature is over, but you can still join them for a morning of birding by bus in the best migrant hotspots in the Indiana Dunes. We’ll be targeting neo-tropic migrant vireos, warblers, thrushes, and flycatchers this morning, while hoping to find many of the late May specialties in the dunes. A box lunch is offered at the conclusion of the tour.

Bird Banding 101

$5 / 6:00 – 10:00am / Dunes State Park Wilson Shelter

Join experienced bird bander Amy Wilms for a peek into the secret migration moving along Lake Michigan. Participants will have a chance to tour the mist-netting banding site and see bird banding up close and in person (and maybe even help release birds). Techniques of bird banding will also be discussed. Report directly to the state park Wilson Shelter.

Dunes Big Morning!

$30 / 6:00am – 12:00pm / Leader: Wes Homoya

Here is your chance to enjoy the fast-paced birding of a Big Day, but all before lunch! Speed around on a fast and furious morning to rack up a morning goal of 100 species. Our van guides will choose the best route for a variety of migrating birds each day. A box lunch is offered at the conclusion of the tour. This morning adventure is great for festival returnees and those looking to rack up a big list of dunes migrants and breeding birds.

Michiana Marsh Meander

$25/ 6:00 – 10:00am / Leader: Cookie Ferguson

Two great wetlands in two great states this morning. Cookie Ferguson will guide folks to both Beverly Shores and Galien River County Park for a look at two special wetlands that play host to herons, rails, and bitterns. Galien River County Park is also host to a great birding canopy tower. A similar tour last year saw Least Bitterns at both sites in one tour! The tour will be led by van, and a box lunch is offered at the conclusion.

Lake County Migrant Traps

$25/ 6:30 – 10:30am / Leader: Matt Kalwasinski

The “migrant traps” of Lake County hold high concentrations of birds due to their location among the generally urban zone just outside of Chicago, yet still along the Lake Michigan lakefront. Matt will escort birders by van to explore these hard to find, yet super-diverse birding sites. A box lunch is included at the end of the tour.

Dunes Warbler Tour

$5 / 6:30-10:30am / Leader: Amy Kearns

36 regularly occurring warblers can be found during a day of birding the dunes. We’ll seek to fill our warbler punch card this morning with as many as possible on this specialty tour, visiting the best spots for warblers during this carpool caravan.

Cowles Bog

$5 / 6:30 – 10:30am / Leader: Matt Igleski

Cowles Bog is a birding treasure trove and an 8,000-year-old fen. This National Park Service site is home to the birthplace of ecology and is also a varied habitat for a diverse set of migrating birds. The swamp edges can host many migrating warblers, including large Northern Waterthrush numbers. Sandhill Cranes and rails nest throughout the property. Rarities tend to be found at this premier birding destination in the dunes.

Birding the Dunes with Lifer Nature Tours

$5 / 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Lifer Nature Tours

As the official tour company of the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival, our Lifer Nature Tours expert guides will highlight some of the best birding in the dunes area and seek out some of the best birds to be found during the festival. This is not a trip to miss

Hannah and Erik Go Birding

$5/ 7:00 – 11:00am / Leaders: Hannah and Erik Go Birding

Hannah and Erik are a husband/wife bird nerd podcast team that loves to explore, adventure, meet new people, and watch birds. Join them for a fun morning in the dunes area seeking out the peak of spring migration in the dunes in four hours of birding via carpool. All locations will be within the Indiana Dunes State and National Park.

Ambler Flatwoods Boreal Migrants

$25 / 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Sarah Barnes

The largest Shirley Heinze Land Trust property harbors a true gem of relict populations of northern plant species, which translates to a safe haven for many neotropical migrants heading north. It’s a great place for migrant and nesting forest birds, including thrushes, warblers, and flycatchers. It’s also a great trip for wildflower seekers. This tour is led by van and includes a box lunch at the conclusion of the tour.

Indiana Dunes State Park

$5 / 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Michael Topp

One of the premier birding sites during the festival! The Dunes State Park is simply great migrant birding. An assortment of warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers, and more can be found here. The Wilson Boardwalk area also plays host to Prothonotary Warblers and the back-dune savannas hosts many Red-headed Woodpeckers. The terrain should remain flat.

Pinhook Bog

$5/ 7:30– 11:00am / Leader: John Lindsey  

Pinhook Bog is one of few “true” bogs in the southern Great Lakes. Among the tamarack, blueberries, and insectivorous plants there is also unique birding. This site has both upland forests as well as the lowland floating bog mat that we will explore. The site is normally closed to the public, so you’ll want to pre-register for this carpool tour that often produces Connecticut Warblers.

Cowles Bog

$5 / 7:30 – 11:30am / Leader: John Kendall

Cowles Bog is a birding treasure trove and an 8,000-year-old fen. This National Park Service site is home to the birthplace of ecology and is also a varied habitat for a diverse set of migrating birds. The swamp edges can host many migrating warblers, including large Northern Waterthrush numbers. Sandhill Cranes and rails nest throughout the property. Rarities tend to be found at this premier birding destination in the dunes.

DuPont Natural Area

$5/ 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Paul Labus

The DuPont Natural Area is owned by East Chicago Gateway Partners and managed by The Nature Conservancy. It represents the dune and swale habitat of the Great Lakes and is considered globally rare. An assortment of both plants and animals have been found at this normally closed birding hotspot. The site has been known for King Rails and bitterns. This is a carpool tour.  See Thursday’s trip if you wish to visit via van tour.

Dunes Heron Rookery

$5/ 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Randy Pals

Named for the Great Blue Herons that formerly nested at this inland National Park property, the Heron Rookery is well-known for its outstanding display of spring wildflowers. It is also an excellent place to find uncommon migrating songbirds such as Golden-winged Warbler and Yellow-throated Warbler, but also deep woods specialties such as Pileated Woodpecker and Barred Owl. Expect an array of warblers and thrushes. The trail may be muddy.

Beverly Shores

$5 / 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Annie Aguirre

Visit the woodlands and wetlands that make up the Beverly Shores area in pursuit of nesting and migrant species. Highlight birds may include both Pine and Prairie Warbler, Summer Tanagers, rails, and Sandhill Cranes down near the wetlands. Other woodland, marsh, wetland, and waterfowl species can be expected.

Reynold’s Creek Wetlands and Prairie

$5 / 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Mark Welter

Reynold’s Creek is a newly created gamebird habitat area just miles from Lake Michigan. The recent restoration of warm season grasses has brought an explosion of grassland birds, including Bobolinks, Dickcissels, and Henslow’s Sparrows. Potholes are also being dug for wetland species such as shorebirds and waterfowl.

Intro to Birding Photography Close-up!

$5 / 8:30 – 11:30am / Leader: Rafi Wilkinson

Local photography expert Rafi Wilkinson will provide a discussion of basic camera settings followed by a photo session with the live birds at the Humane Indiana Wildlife’s wildlife rehab center. Participants will carpool to Humane Indiana Wildlife for some photography time with these amazing ambassadors.

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

$5 / 8:30 – 11:30am / Leader: Coffee Creek Staff

This one-of-a-kind, mixed-development features over 150 acres of forest, wetland, and prairie restorations. The open meadows and prairies have become home to high numbers of breeding Tree Swallows and bluebirds. This hidden gem is just a few short miles from Chesterton. Great opportunity for close-up looks for beginning birders and photographers.

National Park Ranger Bird Hike

$5 / 9:00 – 11:30am / Leader: National Park Service Rangers

Are you new to birding or looking for a more relaxed birding opportunity? Take part in these daily morning bird walks with the rangers from the Indiana Dunes National Park. Each morning this tour will meet at the Visitor Center and walk the often-productive nearby grounds and bike trail towards the Indiana Dunes State Park in search of migrating birds. No carpooling required. Binoculars are also available for borrowing if needed.

The Migration Marketplace

PUBLIC/ 10:00 – 4:00pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center

Held Friday through Sunday in the big tent outside the festival headquarters, the Migration Marketplace is your one-stop-shop for birding related gear, artwork, and more. You’ll find optics vendors, artwork, bird feeding specialists, and state and regional conservation organizations all on hand to answer your questions or provide you with the latest in birding equipment. Special vendor programs will take place inside the tent all three days. See the Marketplace schedule for the full list of programs.

Audubon Great Lakes Native Plant Sale

PUBLIC/ 10:00 – 4:00pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center

What better way to help the birds than with native planting! Audubon Great Lakes and the local Audubon chapters will host this special native plant sale Friday through Sunday at the festival grounds. Some of the plants that will be on hand include royal catchfly, milkweed, wild columbine, and black-eyed Susan. Also, be sure to visit the native plant sale booth for mini workshops. Audubon will have plant experts to help you find the best native plants for your garden.

Festival Headliner: Hannah and Erik Go Birding

Birds Don’t Know They Are Special

FREE/ 11:30 – 12:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center

Birds play a huge part in the economy, ecology, and people’s lives. But—do you think they realize it? Hannah and Erik host a birding podcast and through their travels around the world they have come to realize how large a part birds do play. From supporting tourism in small communities to planting ecosystems, our lives wouldn’t be the same without birds. And despite these facts, birds don’t seem to appreciate or acknowledge that we are even watching them.

An Introduction to Waterfowl ID Workshop

$20/ 1:00 – 4:00pm / Dunes SP Nature Center/ Presenter: Michael Topp

Despite over 30 species of ducks found in the wetlands-rich Great Lakes, very few nest in the immediate region. This leaves precious time to truly study their beautiful plumages, behavior, and interesting life histories. Explore this unique group of birds with dunes area expert Michael Topp. Afterwards, a short field session will seek out some May migrating and nesting waterfowl.

Raptors Live!

FREE/ 1:00 – 2:00pm / Dunes Visitor Center/ Presenter: Potawatomi Zoo

Join the Potawatomi Zoo for this close-up look at live birds of prey moving through the dunes right now. This fun and educational program will discuss the many hawks, falcons, and owls that can be seen in the field this week or throughout the year in the Great Lakes region. Each day features different birds.

Duneland Herpetology: Peculiar Species in a Peculiar Landscape

FREE/ 1:00 – 2:00pm / Douglas Center/ Presenter: Nate Engbrecht

From lizards without legs to the Great Lakes’ smallest salamander, this presentation will feature Indiana DNR Herpetologist Nate Engbrecht as he discusses some of the more bizarre and intriguing amphibians and reptiles inhabiting the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Amazing Birding in the Indiana Dunes

FREE/ 2:30 – 3:30pm/ Visitor Center/ Presenter: Ken Brock

The Indiana Dunes is host to some of the greatest bird diversity in the Midwest. Among the top ten sites in the entire Great Lakes, the Indiana Dunes shoreline is a rich mosaic of interesting and unique habitats that support over 370 bird species. Ken Brock, aka the bird man of Indiana, will talk participants through the amazing places found along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and a sampling of the bird species you should be on the lookout for during the festival. Ken will offer his secrets to the greatest birding hotspot in Indiana.

The Birds (& Animals) From Down Under

FREE/ 2:30 – 3:30pm/ Douglas Center/ Presenter: Rick & Debbie Read

In 3 weeks of birding in Australia Rick and Debbie Read saw many new bird families like bowerbirds, honeyeaters, frogmouths and fairywrens, as well as new mammals like platypus and marsupials. How many animals looks like kangaroos, but aren’t? Have you seen a 125-lb bird with a dinosaur-looking head? Should you fear a mammal with a 3-ft wingspan? They’ll show you pictures, sounds and videos from “the land of parrots” that will surprise and amaze you.

Bird Photos after the Shoot: An Intro to Lightroom Processing

FREE/ 4:00 – 5:00pm/ Dunes Visitor Center/ Presenter: Rafi Wilkinson

You’ve spent the morning trying to capture those live action bird shots. But now that the day is over, now what? Explore tips and techniques to brushing up those not so perfect bird photos and the basic photo adjustments that any bird photographer should know. We’ll explore not only Lightroom, but other image-editing software you might be using. Examples from the field will be used. 

A Rare Peek at Rails of the Midwest

FREE/ 4:00 – 5:00pm/ Douglas Center/ Presenter: Stephanie Beilke

Rails are a taxonomic family of birds with a tendency to be highly secretive, often dwelling in dense vegetation. We’ll take a closer look amid the reeds to uncover what there is to know about seven rail species that breed in and migrate through the Great Lakes. Come learn about who would win the award for noisiest rail and the most secretive marsh bird of them all. In addition, we’ll explore what Audubon Great Lakes and partners have learned about how rails and other marsh birds respond to restoration happening right here in the Chicago region.

Indiana Dunes State Park Afternoon Warblers

$15/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: Matt Igleski

One of the premier birding sites during the festival! The Dunes State Park is simply great migrant birding. An assortment of warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers, and more can be found here. The Wilson Boardwalk area also plays host to Prothonotary Warblers and the back-dune savannas host many Red-headed Woodpeckers. The terrain covered should remain flat during this afternoon carpool tour.

Heron Rookery in the Afternoon

$15/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: Mark Welter

Named for the Great Blue Herons that formerly nested at this inland National Park property, the Heron Rookery is well-known for its outstanding display of spring wildflowers. It is also an excellent place to find uncommon migrating songbirds such as Golden-winged Warbler and Yellow-throated Warbler, but also deep woods specialties such as Pileated Woodpecker and Barred Owl. Expect an array of warblers and thrushes. The trail may be muddy.

Afternoon Shorebird Search

$15/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: Amy Kearns

Shorebirds and their habitat can vary year to year and week to week. Amy Kearns will take participants to the current shorebird hideouts, with possible visits to several inland flooded fields, wetlands, and shoreline habitat.

A Bloopy Bird Art Workshop

$20/ 3:00 – 5:00pm / Brincka Cross Gardens/ Presenter: Joe Feliciano

Join our festival birds and brews artist for a hands-on art workshop. Joe will take a light-hearted cartoonist look to approaching bird drawings. Snacks and refreshments will be available. Participants report directly to the Brincka Cross Gardens for this special workshop, which requires advance registration.

Birds and Brews & 5th Annual Bird Calling Competition!

FREE / 6:00 – 9:00pm / Sand Creek Country Club

It’s our official birders social event! Join other participants for a night of great food, drinks, trivia, prizes, and more. Try our special bird fest beer and cider or meet a new birder from around the Great Lakes region. Tonight, we will also feature the annual bird calling competition after 7pm. Bring your best call for hundreds of dollars in prizes! Registration includes a pizza, salad, and breadsticks buffet.

 

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