Thursday the 13th
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).
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2021
Bird Banding 101 from the Indiana Dunes
FREE / 7:00 – 9:00am / Dunes State Park Wilson Shelter + LIVE STREAM
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 or watch via the Field Live Stream.
Dunes Big Morning Live with Matt Igleski
FREE / 7:00 – 9:00am / LIVE STREAM
See the Indiana Dunes in her spring migration wonder al morning with regional birding personality, Matt Igleski. Matt will visit some of the best birding sites in the Indiana Dunes live and provide for a virtual birding experience that is totally unique to the Dunes! Simply select the Dunes Big Morning Live Breakout Room to watch live.
Rainforest Birds Live with Lifer Nature Tours
FREE / 7:00 – 9:00am / LIVE STREAM
Explore Costa Rica live this morning with our partners at Lifer Nature Tours. This is a great introduction to the Caribbean lowlands and the famous Boca Tapada rainforest. We’ll explore tanagers, hummingbirds, parrots, honeycreepers, and more in a couple hours of birding live from location this morning. Guide scopes will bring in the birds active and in focus for all to enjoy. Simply select the Rainforest Birds Live Breakout Room to watch live.
Lake Michigan Pelagic on the Emita II
$39 / 6:00 – 10:00am / Leader: John Cassady
We’ve partnered with Harbor Country Adventures for a large passenger cruise boat, the Emita II. We’ll take a 3-hour open air 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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Dunes Big Morning!
$20 / 6:00 – 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 guides will choose the best route for a variety of migrating birds each day. A box lunch is offered at the conclusion of the trip. 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.
Indiana Dunes State Park
$5 / 6:30 – 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 host many Red-headed Woodpeckers. The terrain should remain flat. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
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 species of marsh birds. 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
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 Parks. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
$5 / 7:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Sarah Barnes
This diverse Shirley Heinze Land Trust property harbors a true gem of old growth forest just a few miles from Lake Michigan. It is a great place for migrant and nesting forest birds, including thrushes, warblers, and flycatchers. It is also a great trip for wildflower seekers, and flowering dogwood. Meet: Barker Woods.
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.
Warblers of Brincka-Cross Gardens
$5 / 7:30 – 11:00am / Leader: Kim Ehn
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.
$5/ 7:30 – 11:30am / Leader: David Rupp with IndiGo Birding Nature Tours
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 tour that often produces Connecticut Warblers. Meet: Pinhook Bog parking lot.
Cowles Bog Morning Birdathon
$5 / 8:00 – 11:00am / Leader: Annie Aguirre
Grab your binoculars and join Annie for a morning of speed-birding as migration kicks into high gear. Our group will race to find as many birds as we can, including a goal of 50 species in the first 50 minutes! Cowles Bog is a biodiverse gem featuring a 8,000-year old fen, and hosts a rich diversity of bird species. 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.
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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Beverly Shores Birding
$5 / 8:00 – 11:30am / Leader: Cookie Ferguson
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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
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.
Dunes Migration Marketplace
PUBLIC/ 11:00 – 4:00pm / Dunes Visitor Center
Held each day 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 and the daily headliner presentation will take place each day. See the Marketplace schedule for the full list of programs.
Dunes-Calumet Audubon Native Plant Sale
PUBLIC/ 11:00 – 4:00pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center
What better way to help the birds than with native planting! Audubon chapters will host this special native plant sale 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: Dr. Ken Brock
Amazing Birding in the Indiana Dunes
FREE/ 11:30am – 12:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center + LIVE STREAM
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
Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink
FREE/ 1:00 – 2:00pm / LIVE STREAM/ Presenter: Sarah Saunders
National Audubon Society’s new science shows that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. The good news is that our science also shows that if we act now, we can help improve the chances for 76% of species at risk. Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records—including observational data from bird lovers across the country. Learn about the science behind the findings and the impact on birds in your local community.
How Monty and Rose took Chicago by storm - A Piping Plover’s Story
FREE/ 1:00 – 2:00pm / LIVE STREAM/ Presenter: Tamima Itani
In the spring of 2019 and again in 2020, a pair of endangered Piping Plovers nested at Montrose Beach Dunes, the first such event in Chicago since 1948. They and their chicks weaved themselves into the hearts of birders and non-birders alike, becoming stellar ambassadors for their species. Tamima Itani, Volunteer Coordinator and Board Member of the Illinois Ornithological Society, will describe Piping Plover life history and how the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort is bringing these birds back, as well as share stories from the Chicago experience.
The Raptors of Humane Indiana Live!
FREE/ 2:00 – 2:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center + LIVE STREAM/ Presenter: Humane Indiana Wildlife
Join the Humane Indiana Wildlife staff for a socially distant look at live birds of prey moving through the dunes right now. This fun and educational program will discuss the hawks, falcons, and owls that can be seen in the field this week or throughout the year in the Great Lakes region.
The Challenges of Kākāpō Conservation
FREE/ 2:30 – 3:30pm / LIVE STREAM/ Presenter: New Zealand Dept of Conservation
Kākāpō are a critically endangered species of large, flightless, nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. Once widespread and abundant, they declined to just 51 individuals by 1995, prompting the formation of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. Since then, intensive, and innovative conservation efforts have increased the population to 209 individuals. This talk will give an overview of the history of the species, the diverse conservation methods used in recovery efforts, and the future of the program.
Spotting the Unspottable: The story of the first ever catch of the mythical Unspotted Saw Whet Owl
FREE / 2:30-3:30pm / LIVE STREAM/ Presenter: Ernest Carman from Lifer Nature Tours
Costa Rica is a bird-watcher's paradise, but of all the colorful, enigmatic and unique birds, there is one that stands out for both its rareness and its cuteness. The elusive Unspotted Saw-Whet Owl avoided all Costa Rican birders for many years until a small group of bird guides began a race to not only spot it, but to study, understand and even band it for the very first time in history. Hear the story from the person that made everything possible, Ernest Carman, top guide for Lifer Nature Tours.
Heron Rookery in the Afternoon
$10/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: Richard Garrett and Bill Sharkey
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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Reynold's Creek in the Afternoon
$10/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: Annie Aguirre
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. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Dunes State Park Afternoon Warblers
$10/ 2:00 – 5:00pm / Leader: John Lindsey
One of the premier birding sites during the festival! The Indiana 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 tour. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Bird Art Workshop with Kristina Knowski
$20 / 3:00 – 5:00pm / Brincka Cross Gardens
Join our official festival artist for a hands-on art workshop. Kristina will walk you through your own festival themed art projects. Snacks and refreshments will be available. Participants report directly to the Brincka Cross Gardens for this special workshop, which requires advance registration.
Night Birding Live
FREE / 8:00 - 9:00pm / LIVE STREAM
See the Indiana Dunes after dark with regional birding personality, Matt Igleski. Matt will visit some of the best night birding sites in search of woodcocks, whip-poor-wills, owls, and maybe more during a special twilight live stream.
Woodcock Sky Dance Tour
$15/ 7:30 – 9:00pm / Leader: Dan Barriball
The bird with many names! Whether you call it the timberdoodle, bog sucker, Labrador twister, or more simply the woodcock, its spring dance is a sight to behold. Join us for a short drive to watch the evening curtain rise on this quite punctual performer. Limited spots, so register early. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Owl Prowl Tour
$15 / 7:45 – 9:15pm / Leader: Cookie Ferguson
Finding popular birds of the twilight is the goal this evening. Cookie will carpool a select group to target the amazing and stealthy world of owls. Based on local observations, we’ll try to find a few species and look at the adaptations they need to survive. Limited spots, so register early. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Whip-poor-will Wander Tour
$15 / 8:00 – 9:30pm / Leader: Matt Beatty
To find the most vociferous bird of the dunes, you need not set your alarm early. Meet Matt for a carpool tour to seek out the loud Eastern Whip-poor-wills of the dune forests. If we’re lucky, we’ll have close looks at this highly territorial forest-floor dweller. Meet: Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.