Saturday the 16th
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).
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.
Adam Sell’s Bird Tower Big Sit
FREE / 6:00 – 10:00am / Dunes SP Bird Tower
One of the best big sit sites in the dunes, no matter the weather, the Dunes State Park Longshore Tower and nearby prairie and woodlands host a great variety of birds. From migrating raptors, forest edge warblers (including Connecticut), and secretive skulkers, one never knows what might appear here. Register to join Illinois hawk watch expert Adam Sell for a morning of bird watching.
Lake Michigan Pelagic on the Emita II
$39 / 6:00 – 10:00am / Leader: Wes Homoya
We’ve partnered with Harbor Country Adventures for a large passenger cruise boat, the Emita II. We’ll take a 3-hour cruise with expert birding guides to seek out late migrating waterfowl such as Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Loons, as well as migrating shorebirds and land birds along the dune beaches. This tour is weather dependent, with rain dates being offered on both Friday and Sunday.
Dunes Big Morning!
$30 / 6:00am – 12:00pm / Leader: Matt Igleski
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.
Kankakee Sands Prairie Birding
$5/ 6:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Barb Lucas
The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands is a birders and wildflower enthusiasts paradise. The more than 7,000 acres hosts an amazing array of birds, plants, and animals that fills the prairie with song and sights to behold. Recent reintroduction of bison is rebuilding the natural ecosystems that support Henslow’s and Lark Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks, Dickcissels, Northern Bobwhites, and more that will be visible on this carpool tour.
Miller Woods and Swale
$5 / 6:00-10:00am / Leader: Michael Topp
The forested dune and swale in the Miller area sit at a unique location, right on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. The National Park’s Miller Woods and Douglas Center are a prime spot for migrating warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and more. This is a unique tour with a guide who is well-versed with this birding hotspot.
Moraine Nature Preserve Tour
$5/ 6:30-10:30am / Leader: Matt Beatty
The Moraine Nature Preserve is an 800-acre rolling, forested landscape located just south of the dunes in what is called the Valparaiso Moraine. This preserve is some of the highest elevation for landing migrants. This preserve, marked with ravines and shallow wetlands, is an excellent spring birding destination.
Potato Creek State Park
$25/ 6:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Lindsay Grossmann
The forests, prairies, and wetlands at Potato Creek are a six-square-mile birding oasis in the snow belt shadowing Lake Michigan. The park is known for waterfowl and its density of nesting Osprey. This van tour will seek out migrants and includes a box lunch upon return.
Bendix Woods Warblers
$25/ 6:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Evie Kirkwood
Bendix Woods is home to over 150 acres of woods, ponds, and fields. A state dedicated nature preserve is contained within its borders. Bendix Woods can be a great location for migrating warblers, vireos, and thrushes during the spring. Participants will be guided by van with Evie Kirkwood, retired director of St. Joseph County Parks. A box lunch will be provided afterwards.
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.
Little Calumet River Kayak Birding
$25/ 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Libby Keyes and NWIPA
Explore an unspoiled section of the beautiful Little Calumet River just south of the dunes via kayak. We’ll provide the kayaks, and you’ll slow paddle the serene waters towards Lake Michigan in search of waterbirds and migrant songbirds feeding along the river’s edge. It’s one of the best spots in the region for Yellow-throated and Prothonotary Warblers. Beginners welcome! Trip sponsorship courtesy of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.
Little Calumet River Advanced Kayak Birding
$10/ 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Dan Mallinger and NWIPA
In this more advanced kayak birding trip, we’ll explore a more difficult, but equally birdy section of the beautiful Little Calumet River just south of the dunes via kayak. All birders MUST provide their own kayak for this trip. Trip sponsorship courtesy of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.
$25/ 7:00- 11:00am / Leader: Amy Kearns
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’ll be able to explore. This area is normally closed to the public, so you’ll want to pre-register early. A box lunch will be included with this van tour.
$5 / 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Annie Aguirre
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.
Calumet Region Birding with National Audubon
$5 / 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Walter Marcisz & Nat Miller
The Cook County Forest Preserves and The Field Museum have done active restoration to restore Eggers Grove as a unique habitat, combining dry, wooded ridges where spring wildflowers thrive with long, narrow wetlands filled with sedges, marsh grasses, emergent forbs and waterfowl. The varied woodland and wetland landscape attracts spring and fall migrations of waterfowl and songbirds. Expect an assortment of total species. This trip may involve toll road fees.
Kingsbury Fish & Wildlife Area Tour
$25/ 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: John Lindsey
Many great records have come from Kingsbury. With its 7,000 acres of forest, grasslands, and wetlands, a diversity of birds can be found on this old ordinance property that was deeded to the DNR in 1965. John Lindsey is intimately familiar with the property and will showcase a diversity of breeding and migrant birds. A box lunch will be included with this van tour.
Little Calumet River Wetlands
$5 / 8:00am – 11:30am / Leader: Stephanie Beilke
The Little Calumet River corridor includes some of the most productive wetland habitat in the dunes area. These wetlands have also been the focal point for recent secretive marsh bird surveys, revealing the hidden rails, bitterns, herons, grebes, and more that make this fragmented habitat home. Join National Audubon’s Stephanie Beilke for a carpool tour to a few of these unique birding spots.
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.
Birds and Blooms in the Heron Rookery Tour
$5/ 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Scott Namestnik
Named for the Great Blue Herons that formerly nested at this 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 as well. The trail is level but may be muddy in spots.
Birding Photography in the Field
$5/ 8:30 – 11:30am / Leader: Rafi Wilkinson
Local photography expert Rafi Wilkinson will start with a short discussion of basic camera settings followed by a photo session with a few Indiana Dunes bird specialties. He ends with a photo critique and processing tips for improving images post-production. Participants will carpool to the state park for some photography time near the park’s Wilson Shelter.
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.
2020 Youth and Family Birding Day!
FREE/ 9:00am – 4:00pm / Dunes SP Nature Center
Join us for a full day of birding activities, including free beginner hikes every hour, photo ID quiz giveaways, bird games, bluebird house building, scout birding merit badge activities, and more! Watch songbird and hummingbird banding as well. All activities take place at the State Park Nature Center and include special presentations throughout the day. All activities are free, whether you’re registered for the festival or not, and include a free welcome bag of goodies just for coming! Events are rain or shine.
The Migration Marketplace
PUBLIC/ 10:00am – 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/ 10:00am – 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: Marc Kramer and Eliana Ardila Ardila
Birding by Bus: Where Van Life Meets Birding
FREE/ 11:30am – 12:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center
Join Marc & Eliana’s epic road quest from Florida to Alaska in 2018 as they traverse the wild spaces of North America in search of birds, nature, and adventure.… in a 40-year-old VW Bus. How many things could possibly go wrong with an iconic car that’s four decades old? Get ready for inspiring road adventures across the continent, navigating through mechanical failures, relationship survival tips, mega rare birds, and spectacular scenery. Throw in a wedding and trip to Attu and you’ve got the journey of a lifetime! Learn how anyone can travel for an extended period on a budget and take that bucket list birding adventure you’ve always dreamed of.
FREE/ 1:00 – 2:00pm / Dunes Visitor Center/ Presenter: Salamonie Lake Interpretive Center
Join the Salamonie Lake 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.
The Blue in Birds
FREE / 1:00 – 2:00pm / Dunes SP Nature Center/ Presenter: Rick Read
When you see the color ‘blue’ in a bird, you may be surprised that it is not from pigments in the feathers; it’s from something called structural color. Come hear about the physics that create structural color and see Rick’s pictures of birds with blue colors from his travels to all 7 continents of our world.
Hawkwatching ID Workshop
$20/ 1:00 – 4:00pm / Douglas Center/ Presenter: Vic Berardi
Vic is regionally recognized as one of the foremost raptor ID specialists in the Great Lakes. Combined with the well-known IL fall raptor counts, Vic has educated the masses on the fine parts of hawk ID from the air. Join him for an in-depth look at some beginner hawk ID. We’ll try to spend some time outside as well as part of this workshop.
When Bird Guides Get in Troubles: The Behind the Scenes of 8 years of Adventures with Lifer Nature Tours.
FREE / Saturday 2:30 – 3:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center/ Presenter: Juan Diego from Lifer Nature Tours
The Americas are a rich hemisphere of amazing birds and beautiful sights. For a bird guide like Juan Diego, guiding in 5 different countries year-round sounds like the dream job. From misty cloud forests with Resplendent Quetzals to inter-Andean dry forest with enigmatic Buff-fronted Owls, at first it might sound like the dream job, but it’s not all fame and glory... All guides face that situation in which you wish you rather had become the medical doctor your mother told you to be. Enjoy the untold stories from the field as you never have before, while taking an armchair tour of some of the best Central and South American birding destinations that you can enjoy, as well as some of the birds you might see.
A Young Birder Visits Sax-Zim Bog in the Winter
FREE / 2:30 – 3:30pm / Dunes SP Nature Center/ Presenter: Juan Velesquez
Young birder Juan Velasquez will speak about his birding adventures in the heart of winter at Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota to see amazing owls and winter boreal birds. Juan is a member of the Mississinewa Audubon Club and the Young Birders Club.
Cowles Bog in the Afternoon
$15/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: Matt Beatty
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.
Indiana Dunes State Park Afternoon Warblers
$15/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: John Lindsey
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: Cookie Ferguson
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.
Festival Keynote: Scott Weidensaul
A World of Wings: Migratory Birds on a Changing Planet
5:30 – 9:30pm / Sand Creek Country Club
Even as scientists make astounding discoveries about the navigational and physiological feats that enable migratory birds to cross immense oceans or fly above the highest mountains, go weeks without sleep or remain in unbroken flight for months at a stretch, humans have brought many migrants to the brink. Based on his forthcoming book "A World of Wings," author and researcher Scott Weidensaul takes you around the globe -- with researchers in the lab probing the limits of what migrating birds can do, to the shores of the Yellow Sea in China, the remote mountains of northeastern India where tribal villages saved the greatest gathering of falcons on the planet, and the Mediterranean, where activists and police are battling bird poachers -- to learn how people are fighting to understand and save the world's great bird migrations. Add the keynote program, dinner, and silent auction for $27