Thursday the 17th
Registration to the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival includes an option to sign up for one field trip each morning and inclusion to all workshops, presentations, and social events. Some premium tours and workshops may have an additional fee due upon registration. FREE events are free with paid basic registration, with exception of the Dunes Birds in Art Exhibition, the Migration Marketplace, and Youth and Family Birding Day which require no registration to attend. Please remember, all times are Central Daylight Time (Chicago time).
Orange indicates field trip via car pool or van tour. Blue indicates indoor presentation, workshop or activity.
Dune Birds in Art Exhibition
FREE / Thursday 7:00am-4:30pm / Dunes Visitor Center
Dune Birds in Art is a special 2D and 3D art presentation sponsored by the Indiana Audubon Society, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and Indiana Dunes Tourism. The juried exhibition features local and regional artists and showcases the Indiana Dunes area’s native avifauna in a myriad of art styles. The exhibition is available daily in the Visitor Center exhibit room.
Dunes Longshore Flight Count
FREE / Thursday 6:00am – 10:00am / Dunes State Park Longshore Tower
It’s the ¼ million bird seasonal survey, one of the largest of its kind on the Great Lakes. Join us each morning from atop the Indiana Dunes State Park birding platform (by the Beach West Lot) for the morning migration of thousands of birds per day. In conducive south winds, an assortment of migrants could be flying past. Blue Jays, waxwings, warblers, orioles, and tanagers should be peaking now. This has been a one stop shop for annual rarities to fly by too.
Lake Michigan Pelagic Tour I
Fee $59 / Thursday 6:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Kip Miller
Join Salmon Hunter Charters s and our birding guide for an adventure on Lake Michigan. Participants will car pool to Michigan City Harbor for a 3 hour ride out into Lake Michigan to explore late migrating waterfowl, such as Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Loons, as well as any migrating land birds that may find themselves out over the water or migrating along the dune beaches. This tour is weather dependent and in the case of cancellation, refunds will be offered and participants can join any other car pool tour being offered that morning.
Lake Michigan Pelagic Tour II
Fee $59 / Thursday 6:00am – 11:00am / Leader: John Lindsey
Join Salmon Hunter Charters and our birding guide for an adventure on Lake Michigan. Participants will car pool to Michigan City Harbor for a 3 hour ride out into Lake Michigan to explore late migrating waterfowl, such as Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Loons, as well as any migrating land birds that may find themselves out over the water or migrating along the dune beaches. This tour is weather dependent and in the case of cancellation, refunds will be offered and participants can join any other car pool tour being offered that morning.
Dunes Big Morning!
Fee $25 / Thursday 6:00am – 12:00pm / Leader: Tropical Birding Tours
Here is your chance to enjoy the fast-paced birding of a big day, but all before lunch time! Speed around with the guides from Tropical Birding 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.
Lake County Wetlands Tour
Fee $25/ Thursday 6:30am – 10:30am / Leader: Matt Kalwasinski
This tour will start by visiting the Grant Street Marsh where we will listen and look for a wide variety of marsh birds. Recently, this location has hosted Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and it is not uncommon to have Bald Eagles and Ospreys flying overhead. After, the group will visit the nearby Highland Heron Rookery to enjoy more marsh birds, especially nesting Great Blue Herons and their juveniles. At the end of the tour, visitors will be invited to try for nearby Monk Parakeets. A spotting scope is recommended for this tour, but it is not required. This tour is led by van and includes a box lunch at conclusion of the tour.
DuPont Natural Area Tour
Fee $25/ Thursday 6:30am – 10:30am / Leader: Matt Beatty
The DuPont Natural Area is owned by the DuPont Corporation and managed by The Nature Conservancy. It represents a fragment dune and swale habitat to the Great Lakes and is considered globally rare. An assortment of both plants and animals have been found at this normally closed birding hotspot. Last year King Rails were found on the site. This tour is led by van and includes a box lunch at conclusion of the tour.
Dunes Warbler Tour
FREE / Thursday 7:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Tyler Stewart
36 regular occurring warblers can be found during a day of birding the dunes. We'll be seeking to fill our warbler card with as many as possible on this warbler specialty tour, visiting the best spots for warblers during this car pool tour with big year birder Tyler Stewart.
Cowles Bog Tour
FREE / Thursday 7:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Fred Wooley
Cowles Bog is a treasure trove of 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. Kirtland’s Warbler was found here in recent years.
Seidner Dune & Swale Tour
$25 / Thursday 7:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Sarah Barnes
The globally rare dune-and-swale topography and floodplain marsh along the Grand Calumet River can host a variety of birds within this Shirley Heinze Land Trust property. Habitats to bird include black oak savanna, interdunal wetlands, and the nearby riparian corridor. For wildflower lovers, expect to see wild lupine and puccoon in full flower. Egrets, herons, and cormorants are often sighted along the river during the spring and summer. This van trip includes a box lunch afterwards.
Dunes Heron Rookery
FREE / Friday 8:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Randy Pals
Named for the Great Blue Herons that formerly nested at this inland 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 Winter Wren and Yellow-throated Warbler, but also deep woods specialties such as Pileated Woodpecker and Barred Owl along the Little Calumet River. Expect an array of warblers and thrushes as well. The trail is level but may be muddy in spots.
Indiana Dunes State Park Tour
FREE / Thursday 8:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Michael Topp
One of the premier birding sites during the festival! The Dunes SP is simply great migrant birding in the dunes. 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 fairly flat.
Clark and Pine Nature Preserve Tour
FREE / Thursday 8:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Emily Stork and Kristin Stratton
Clark and Pine Nature Preserves play host to very rare ‘ridge and swale’ topography that formed as glacial Lake Chicago receded thousands of years ago. Sandy beach ridges are paralleled by long, narrow ponds and marshes. Due to the close proximity of Lake Michigan, the water in the swales is alkaline, supporting a number of plants rarely found elsewhere in Indiana. The unique habitat has also played host to many rarer birds, including bitterns and rails. Participants may prepare for some off-trail walking.
Eggers Grove and Big Marsh Tour
FREE / Saturday 8:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Walter Marcisz & Nat Miller
The Cook County Forest Preserves and The Field Museum have done active restoration to help 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 species. This trip may involve toll road fees.
Beverly Shores Tour
FREE / Thursday 8:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Lynea Hinchman
Visit the woodlands and wetlands that make up the Beverly Shores complex in pursuit of both nesting and migrant species. Your guide, Lynea Hinchman, has birded on six continents, and has birded the Dunes for more than 30 years. Highlight birds may include both Pine and Prairie Warbler, Summer Tanagers, with Sandhill Cranes down near the wetlands. Other woodland, marsh, wetland, and waterfowl species can be expected.
Fly Like a Bird Tour
Fee $65/ Thursday 9:00am – 11:00am / Leader: Eagle Aircraft
Join the pilots with Eagle Aircraft for a unique perspective on the bird life in the dunes this morning. You'll carpool a short distance to the Eagle Aircraft hangar for an hour flight over the Indiana Dunes, and many of the best birding sites along the shores of Lake Michigan. Who knows, you might even ID a bird or two along the way! These trips have limited space and will fill quickly.
Intro to Birding Photography
FREE / Thursday 9:00am – 12:00pm / Leader: Rafi Wilkinson
Local photography expert, Rafi Wilkinson, will provide a discussion of basic camera settings followed by a photo session with a few Indiana Dunes bird specialties. Ending with a photo critique and Photoshop tips for improving images post production. Participants will car pool to the state park for some hopeful photography time near the park’s Wilson Shelter.
Beginning Birding at the Frame Farm Tour
FREE / Thursday 9:00am – 11:30am / Leader: Kim Ehn
Indiana Audubon board member, Kim Ehn, will guide birders of all ages and skill level to a local birding hotspot just south of the Indiana Dunes. The car pool distance is short and the terrain is easy for 2 hours of diverse birding opportunities.
Festival Headliner: Dr. Ken Brock
The Amazing Birds of the Indiana Dunes
FREE/ Thursday 11:30am – 12:30pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center
The Indiana Dunes is host to one 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 guide participants through the amazing places found along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and a sampling of the specialty bird species you should be on the lookout for during the festival. Ken will offer his secrets to the greatest birding hotspot in Indiana the first day of the festival. Don’t miss it!
World Birding with Tropical Birding Tours
FREE/ Thursday 1:00pm – 2:00pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center/ Presenter: Tropical Birding Tours
Join Tropical Birding Tours each afternoon for a look at birding our amazing world. Each day will feature a different country or region and the amazing birds that can be found there. From Australia, Costa Rica, South America, and beyond, each day will be something new to learn!
Birds and Bison: Kankakee Sands Success Story!
FREE/ Thursday 1:00pm – 2:00pm / Douglas Center/ Presenter: Barb Lucas
It's been 200 years since Bison roamed Indiana, but beginning in 2016, the first herd was introduced at Kankakee Sands by The Nature Conservancy. This latest chapter continues the story of restoration at this amazing mosaic of wetlands and prairies. We welcome Barb Lucas to tell this amazing success story.
An Introduction to Sparrow ID Workshop
Fee $20/ Thursday 1:00pm – 4:00pm / Dunes SP Nature Center/ Presenter: Annie Aguirre
Often referred to as "LBBs" (Little Brown Birds), sparrows are one of those bird groups that birders tend to avoid like the plague when it comes to identification. Give sparrows a closer look, and you’d be surprised how varied and charming these birds can be. Get to know your sparrows in this workshop that will cover tips and tricks with identification, and fascinating facts. Following the class, the group will head out for a bird walk where participants can put their new I.D. skills to the test.
Beverly Shores in the Afternoon
Fee $15/ Thursday 2:00pm – 4:30pm / Leader: Kim Ehn
Visit the woodlands and wetlands that make up the Beverly Shores complex in pursuit of both nesting and migrant species. The afternoon can be just as busy as the morning during the peak of migration. Highlight birds may include both Pine and Prairie Warbler, Summer Tanagers, with Sandhill Cranes down near the wetlands. Other woodland, marsh, wetland, and waterfowl species can be expected on this car pool tour.
Cowles Bog in the Afternoon
Fee $15/ Thursday 2:00pm – 4:30pm / Leader: Don Gorney
Cowles Bog is a treasure trove of 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. We'll spend a few hours here this afternoon on this car pool tour.
Indiana Dunes State Park in the Afternoon
Fee $15/ Thursday 2:00pm – 4:30pm / Leader: Matt Beatty
One of the premier birding sites during the festival! The Dunes SP is simply great migrant birding in the dunes. 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 fairly flat during this car pool tour.
Name that Bird Tune: Using Mnemonics
FREE/ Thursday 2:30pm – 3:30pm / Indiana Dunes Visitor Center/ Presenter: Loyce Fandrei
"Quick three beers!" "Cheer cheer cheer!" Explore those simple statements that help us memorize the amazing bird sound around us. Loyce Fandrei, with the Lake County Parks, will explore the different sounds birds make and ways you can add their song to your own identification repertoire.
1800 Birds: Birding Peru!
FREE/ Thursday 2:30pm – 3:30pm / Douglas Center/ Presenter: Lynea Hinchman
Peru remains a birder's mecca. With over 1,800 birds, Peru vies with Colombia as the largest bird list in the world. No single tour could ever see all of these species, however world traveler, Lynea Hinchman will share her experience birding this amazing diverse country and all that it offers for the first time visitor.
Wine and Waders with Kristina Knowski
Fee $20 / Thursday 3:00pm – 5:00pm / The Craft House/ Presenter: Kristina Knowski
Join our official bird festival artist for a hands on special canvas art workshop. Kristina will walk you through on your own wine bottle art. The Craft House staff will be on hand with an assortment of drink offerings should you wish to partake. Participants report directly to the Craft House for this special workshop requiring advance registration.
Birds and Brews
FREE / Thursday 6:00pm / The Craft House
It’s our official birders social event! Join other participants for a night of great food, drinks, trivia, prizes, and more. Try our special bird fest beer and cider or meet a new birder from around the Great Lakes region. A dinner buffet is available at the door. We take over the upstairs and have a great time. Join us!
Owl Parliament Tour
Fee $10 / Thursday 7:30pm-9:00pm / Leader: Tyler Stewart
Our most popular birds of the twilight are the goals this evening. Tyler will carpool the 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 the adaptations they need to survive. Limited spots, so register early.
Bats of the Dunes Tour
Fee $10 / Thursday 7:30pm-9:00pm / Leader: Ryan Slack
Our flying mammals are an interesting group to watch and study in the dunes. Indiana Audubon President, Ryan Slack, will car pool participants to some good bat observation areas and discuss his research and expertise studying our only winged mammals. We'll also have some bat detection devices to possibly identify some of the species on the move tonight.
Woodcock Dance Tour
Fee $10/ Thursday 8:00pm-9:30pm / Leader: Kristin Stratton
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.
Whip-poor-will Wander Tour
Fee $10 / Thursday 8:00pm-9:30pm / Leader: Matt Beatty
If you want 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 whip-poor-wills of the dune forests. If we’re lucky, we’ll have close up looks at this highly territorial forest floor dweller.