Sunday the 17th
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).
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.
Secretive Marsh Birds of Beverly Shores
$5 / 6:00 – 11:30am / 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.
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.
Adam Sell’s Bird Tower Big Sit
$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.
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.
Lake County Wetlands
$25/ 6:30 – 10:30am / Leader: Matt Kalwasinski
Matt will take participants by van to explore Lake County wetland sites. The tour will begin at Grant Street Marsh, which puts visitors on a raised paved path looking down into the marsh. A spotting scope is recommended, but not required. After, the group will visit the nearby Highland Heron Rookery to enjoy more marsh birds. A box lunch is offered at the conclusion of the tour.
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.
Spicer Lake Nature Preserve
$25/ 6:30 – 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. Staff from St. Joseph County Parks will take folks to this unique birding location where an assortment of neo-tropic migrants can be expected. The van tour includes a box lunch afterwards.
Dunes Heron Rookery
$5/ 7:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Amy Kearns
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.
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.
$5/ 7:00 – 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.
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.
Birding with the National Park Superintendent
$5/ 7:30 – 11:00am / 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.
Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve
$5 / 7:30 – 11:30am / 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.
$5 / 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Rick Read
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 by Ear Tour
$5 / 8:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Annie Aguirre
Just as important as identifying birds by sight is their sound! Audio birding expert Annie Aguirre will guide folks to identify birds by the songs and calls they make. We’ll carpool to the nearby Dunes State Park to practice our mnemonics and more during this beginning level birding tour.
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.
Butterflies and Birds at Miller Woods
$5 / 8:30-11:30am / Leader: Matt Beatty
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. It’s also a great destination for butterflies in this open oak savanna habitat. TNC guide Matt Beatty will highlight both special aspects this morning.
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/ 10:00am – 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.
Audubon Great Lakes Native Plant Sale
PUBLIC/ 10:00am – 2:00pm / 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: Adriaan Michiel Dokter
3 Billion Birds Lost: A Biodiversity Crisis
FREE/ 11:30am – 12:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center
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.
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 focus on the owls that can be seen in the field this week or throughout the year in the Great Lakes region.
Learning to Bird by Ear
FREE / 1:00 – 2:00pm / Dunes Visitor Center / 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.
Morning Flight Madness: The Dunes Longshore Flight Project
FREE/ 2:30 – 3:30pm/ Visitor Center / 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 / Dunes SP Nature Center / 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.