Festival Schedule

Indiana Dunes Birding Festival
May 11-14, 2023

Download last year's 2022 Festival Schedule guidebook for an example of what's ahead.

*Are you interested in giving a presentation at the 2023 festival? Fill out our presentation form and our team will get back to you! *


The 2023 schedule will be released in early 2023. In the meantime, you can start getting excited about the...

2023 Festival Keynote:
Jennifer Ackerman


Saturday, May 13 | 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Sand Creek Country Club
Chesterton, IN

Jennifer Ackerman photo

Join us for an evening dinner event with Jennifer Ackerman! A bird-lover since childhood, Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about birds and nature for more than three decades.  She is the author of eight award-winning books, including The Genius of Birds (Penguin Press, 2016), an international bestseller that examines how research has completely revised our view of the creatures we used to regard as ‘bird brained’. Her most recent book, The Bird Way (Penguin Press, 2020) explores new scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds—how they live and how they think. It was selected as “A Nature Book of the Year” by the London Sunday Times and was a finalist for the Edward O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.  Jennifer’s books have been translated into 30 languages, and her articles and essays have appeared in National Geographic, the New York Times, Scientific American, and many other publications. 

 Jennifer’s talks focus on our new understanding of birds, their highly efficient brains and intelligent behavior, and how this is redefining our definitions and perceptions of intelligence itself. What does it mean to be intelligent? What can we learn from birds about our own nature and our place in the natural world? What are the implications of this radical new understanding for conservation of species and the environment? 

 Jennifer grew up in Washington, D.C., one of five girls.  Her dad was an avid birdwatcher and took me out birdwatching on the C&O Canal and the Potomac River on weekends.  They would get up before dawn and head out to listen and to watch the birds as the light rose.  After a year or two, her dad gifted her first field guide, a worn and well-thumbed copy of Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America.  She’s loved birds ever since and has been lucky enough to travel around the world—from Hokkaido to Sweden, Borneo to Austria, Australia to Brazil—following ornithologists and other scientists into the field to learn about their research.  Her favorite bird is the Black-Capped Chickadee because it's so smart and bold and sassy, is a fabulous communicator, and has an amazing memory. 


2023 Headliners are being released all December!  Come back here for more announcements each Monday...

2023 Festival Headliner:
Chris Haney

Thursday, May 11 | 11:30am
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center
Chesterton, IN

Dr. James Christopher Haney is a conservation biologist, wildlife researcher, and author of more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles, technical reports, and science summaries. He has delivered 150 research and public speaking engagements to national and international audiences. Haney was a coauthor of the "Top 40 Priorities for Science to Inform U.S. Conservation and Management Policy." In 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service invited him to lead what was at the time the largest-ever vessel survey of marine birds in the Gulf of Mexico in order to help document injuries to wildlife that were caused by the Deepwater Horizon blow-out and oil spill. Following 15 years of interdisciplinary research, Dr. Haney discovered how and why conservation makes faulty decisions in his new book: "Woody's Last Laugh - How the 'Extinct' Ivory-billed Woodpecker Fools Us into Making 53 Thinking Errors"

2023 Festival Headliner:
Hannah Toutonghi

Friday, May 12 | 11:30am
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center
Chesterton, IN

Hannah grew up in Washington State, where she discovered her love of birds and the natural world at an early age. After earning a B.S in biochemistry from the University of Washington, field work became the next chapter of her career. She has previously worked at the Natural Resources Research Institute, Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, and the Institute for Bird Populations. Highlights from those seasonal positions include getting dive-bombed by a Northern Goshawk while conducting point counts, banding juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owls, witnessing the irruption of Black-backed Woodpeckers and White-winged Crossbills during fall migration, and hearing Marbled Murrelets in the old-growth forests of the Olympic National Park. Currently, Hannah is a second year master’s student at the University of Minnesota Duluth researching the winter ecology and movement of Northern Hawk Owls.


Make plans to join Lifer Nature Tours for some adventures in the dunes as the 2023 official tour company of the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival! Guides will be on hand to showcase the best the dunes has to offer as well as special presentations throughout the festival.