Sunday the 16th

Each day consists of tour options and afternoon sessions at our various festival locations as well as live stream. Events and presentations labeled “FREE” are included with the price of general registration. PUBLIC events do not require registration.  Additional fees apply for select tours, workshops, and the Friday and Saturday night events. Please remember, all times are Central Daylight Time (Chicago time).

SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2021

2021 Program Guide
2021 Field Trip Directions

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. Meet: Washington Park Beach.

Arenal Volcano Birding Live with Lifer Nature Tours

FREE / 7:00 – 9:00am / LIVE STREAM

Simply select the Rainforest Birds Live Breakout Room to watch live.

The lush rainforests of the Caribbean foothills near the Arenal volcano is a stunning place for both natural beauty and bird diversity.   Join us live from Arenal for common rainforest birds from this amazing locale.  Expect close ups of chachalacas, curassows, tanagers, honeycreepers, and more.  Simply select the Rainforest Birds Live Breakout Room to watch live.

Birding by Bus with Marc and Eliana 

$5 / 6:00 – 10:00am / 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.  Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Secretive Marsh Birds of Beverly Shores

$5 / 6:00 – 10:00am / Leader: Libby Keyes

Explore the wetlands that make up the Beverly Shores area in pursuit of nesting and migrant species. Targets this morning will be the secretive rails, bitterns, and cranes that can lurk in the Great Marsh of the dunes. Other wetland species may include Prothonotary Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, and Olive-sided Flycatchers.   Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Dunes Big Morning!

$20 / 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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Adam Sell’s Big Sit from the Longshore Tower

$5 / 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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Observation Tower.

Lake County Wetlands

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

Explore wetland sites of Lake County. The morning will start at the popular Grant Street Marsh in Gary looking for a variety of marsh birds, including rails and other wading birds. Next, we will head to the Highland Rookery in Highland to search for more marsh bird species. Afterwards, participants will be invited to check out a nearby Monk Parakeet nest site. Meet: Along Chase Street, which is adjacent to western half of Grant Street Marsh.

Dunes Warbler Tour

$5 / 6:30-10:30am / Leader: John Kendall

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.  Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Kankakee Sands Prairie Birding

$5/ 7:00 – 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. Meet: Kankakee Sands Main Office.

Spicer Lake Nature Preserve

$5/ 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Michaele Klingerman

Wetlands, woodlands, and fields welcome birders to this 300-acre nature preserve near the Indiana/Michigan state line just east of the dunes. Michaele, from the St. Joseph County Parks will take folks to this unique birding location where an assortment of neo-tropic migrants can be expected. Meet: Spicer Lake Nature Center parking lot.

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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Amy Kearns' Dunes Birding

$5 / 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Amy Kearns

Explore the best of Indiana Dunes birding with Indiana DNR assistant ornithologist, Amy Kearns.  Amy will select her favorite birding sites to maximize the dunes birding experience this morning within a manageable car pool area.  We'll be targeting the various warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and more arriving now in the Indiana Dunes.  Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center. 

Pinhook Bog

$5/ 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Kim Ehn  

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. Meet: Pinhook Bog parking lot.

Warblers of Brincka-Cross Gardens

$5 / 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Cookie Ferguson

Originally a horticulturalist’s dream, this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home, garden, and accompanying forestland is a wonderous place to seek out migrating birds. Recently, the many cedars and hemlocks on the property have played host to breeding Blackburnian Warblers as well. The trails are flat and easy with accessible boardwalks. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Birding with the National Park Superintendent

$5/ 7:30 – 11:30am / Leader: Paul Labovitz & John Lindsey

Indiana Dunes National Park superintendent and birder Paul Labovitz invites fellow birders to explore his favorite birding area in the dunes. A short carpool will go to Cowles Bog for a few hours of leisure birding while learning about this amazing 15,000+ acre National Park that Paul oversees. This trip will fill fast. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

“Called it!” Birding by Ear Tour

$5 / 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Annie Aguirre

Just as important as identifying birds by sight is their sound! Annie will help birders fine-tune their listening skills with fun exercises exploring the audible side of birding. We’ll caravan to the nearby Dunes State Park to practice our mnemonics and more during this “ears-on” tour for birders of all experience levels. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

$5 / 8:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Lindsay Grossmann

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. Meet: Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve.

Cowles Bog

$5 / 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Paul Senner

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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Flora Richardson Preserve

$5 / 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Scott Namestnik

This bicentennial nature trust property represents high-quality forested uplands and lowlands, with streams, seeps, and springs throughout that make it an excellent spot for migrating birds. In addition, the spring wildflowers make this a true naturalist’s dream. Indiana DNR state botanist Scott Namestnik will guide folks to this new festival field location.  Meet: Flora Richardson Preserve.

Calumet Region Birding with National Audubon

$5 / 8:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Jen Johnson,  Ivonne Chavez, and Walt Marcisz
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 attract spring and fall migrations of waterfowl and songbirds. Expect an assortment of total species. This trip may involve toll road fees depending on the route participants take. Meet: Eggers Grove Forest Preserve.


National Park Ranger Birding

$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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

The Migration Marketplace

PUBLIC/ 11:00 – 2:00pm / 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.

Dunes-Calumet Audubon Native Plant Sale

PUBLIC/ 11:00 – 2:00pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center

What better way to help the birds than with native planting! Audubon chapters will host this special native plant sale Thursday 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: Adriaan Michiel Dokter

3 Billion Birds Lost: A Biodiversity Crisis

FREE/ 11:30 – 12:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center + LIVE STREAM

North America's birds are disappearing from the skies at a rate that's shocking even to ornithologists. Since the 1970s, the continent has lost 3 billion birds, nearly 30% of the total, and even common birds such as sparrows and blackbirds are in decline.  Learn more about this landmark finding and the implications to birds worldwide as published in 2019 by one of the leading authors in the Science report.

Learning to Bird by Ear

FREE / 1:00 – 2:00pm / LIVE STREAM / Presenter: Geoffrey Williamson

Learning to bird by ear is a lifelong process.  Expert Chicago area birder Geoffrey Williamson will explore the nature of bird sounds and the strategy of learning bird calls in this special sit-down session.

Hummingbirds of the Desert Southwest

FREE / 1:00 – 2:00pm / LIVE STREAM / Presenter: Ken Blankenship

There’s no place in the United States for hummingbird enthusiasts, like the desert southwest.  Southeast Arizona in particular hosts a great variety of these tiny flying jewels.  Ken Blankenship, of East West Birding Tours, will highlight the different species, tricky IDs, and breakdown the habitat and locations for some of the most sought-after species found in this amazing birding area. 

Morning Flight Madness: The Dunes Longshore Flight Project

FREE/ 2:30 – 3:30pm/ LIVE STREAM / Presenter: Cookie Ferguson

In 5 years, over 2 million birds have been logged from atop the longshore tower at Indiana Dunes State Park during the spring migration. Learn about the amazing migration, the long-term bird study, and the inspiration for a birding festival in the Indiana Dunes.

Exploring eBird to the Fullest

FREE/ 2:30 – 3:30pm / LIVE STREAM / Presenter: Libby Keyes

Since launching 15 years ago, eBird has revolutionized birding and provided bird watchers with an assortment of online tools to both find and report their bird sightings. eBird seasoned pro Libby Keyes will highlight this simple to use online program and how to maximize its potential for your bird festival sightings and beyond.   


Monday, May 17-Tuesday, May 18

Kirtland’s Warbler Post-Festival Tour

$309/ Grayling, MI / Presenter: Matt Igleski

Don’t let the festival end on Sunday! Join us for a special excursion to the edge of the northwoods for a peek at one of the rarest North American warblers, the beautiful Kirtland’s Warbler. This two-night tour will travel into the heart of the jack pines and the Kirtland’s breeding population. Other targets include Black Tern, Osprey, Evening Grosbeak, Upland Sandpiper, and more. 

This post-festival trip includes two nights lodging, all guiding, two days breakfast, and entrance fees. Lunch and dinners are not included. Single supplements available for those traveling without a roommate ($98). This tour leaves at 2pm on Sunday and returns at approximately 5pm on Tuesday, May 19.  Note: Due to COVID-19, no van transportation will be provided.  Participants must use their own vehicles or arrange carpooling within trusted circles.