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Indiana Day 4: Dunes Big Morning


all seasons in one day 80 °F

Today, counting by number of species alone, was my second-best day of birding in my entire life! Kim, Susie, and I participated in the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival’s “Dunes Big Morning” where a bunch of birders would hop into a bus for a morning and try to find the greatest number of birds as possible in northwest Indiana. It was EPIC!

We started off bright and early at 6am at the Michigan City, IN beach. Unfortunately, fisherman had already arrived and most likely scared any early-morning shorebirds from the beach, but there were a few interesting finds here: FORSTER’S TERN.

And a far away, late, breeding-plumaged COMMON LOON:

Next, we drove to the Heron Rookery Nature Sanctuary a little bit inland. Although the heron rookery is long gone, the bird activity, particularly with passerines, was very high. EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:


This WOOD THRUSH gave the group great looks:

Fleeting glimpse at a CANADA WARBLER:



A couple of uncommon MOURNING WARBLERS entertained us throughout the morning — always a treat to see, and tricky to photograph!

Male CAPE MAY WARBLER was a nice surprise:


Male AMERICAN REDSTART — so many of these were seen this morning:


Male INDIGO BUNTING, another common bird throughout the day:

A beautiful male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER showed nicely for the group, definitely one of the highlights of the day:

An immature Eastern Garter Snake crossed the path in front of us:

Next, it was off to Reynolds Creek Gamebird Area in search of grassland birds and other species. As soon as we got off the bus, our group leader spotted a nice male BOBOLINK, a harbinger of grasslands:


GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was a great grassland specialty and perched up so nicely for us:

A NORTHERN HARRIER cruised over the field across the road from us:

First-year male ORCHARD ORIOLE, I have seen more of these than fully-adult males this spring!


At one retention pond, a SORA showed really nicely for the group — a definite highlight for everyone.



Next stop was Cowles Bog, where apart from unphotographed MARSH WRENS & VIRGINIA RAILS, one of the nesting SANDHILL CRANES was a highlight:

Then, it was off to the same place in Indiana Dunes State Park where Kim, Susie, and I had the PROTHONOTARY WARBLER yesterday! This time, we spotted the female bird and she was busy flying in and out of her nest box.

Just a little ways down the road, a male CERULEAN WARBLER put on a beautiful show of singing and displaying right over us — WOW!!!


The final highlight of the big morning was seeing a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK on her nest.

Adding two birds seen when I arrived back to Kim’s house in the early afternoon, CAROLINA WREN & TUTED TITMOUSE, I finished with 112 species today — incredible for only a “big morning!”

Later today, I boarded the South Shore train to ride back to Chicago. The place where I picked this train up in Michigan City involved walking into the middle of the street to board — cool!

Bird-of-the-day to the beautiful Cerulean Warbler with runners-up to the Mourning, Golden-winged, & Prothonotary Warblers & the Grasshopper Sparrow. A fantastic day with SO many birds from which to choose — the full list of 112 species, including a whopping 25 warbler species(!), is included below.

A HUGE thank you to Kim Habel for hosting me for this trip, and to Dennis & Susie for driving me there! Loved birding with you.

Stay tuned, because monday I am leading an Oak Park Bird Walk and tuesday I am going on a 24-hour birding jamboree called a “big day” with my friend Jonathan Bontrager: we will try to see the greatest number of species in the entire state of Indiana as possible in one day!

Good birding,
World Life List: 971 Species

1. Canada Goose
2. Wood Duck
3. Blue-winged Teal
4. Mallard
5. Rock Pigeon
6. Mourning Dove
7. Common Nighthawk
8. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
9. Virginia Rail
10. Sora
11. Sandhill Crane
12. Killdeer
13. Spotted Sandpiper
14. Ring-bilked Gull
15. Herring Gull
16. Caspian Tern
17. Forster’s Tern
18. Common Loon
19. Double-crested Cormorant
20. Great Blue Heron
21. Green Heron
22. Turkey Vulture
23. Red-shouldered Hawk
24. Red-tailed Hawk
25. Red-headed Woodpecker
26. Red-bellied Woodpecker
27. Downy Woodpecker
28. Hairy Woodpecker
29. Northern Flicker
30. Great Crested Flycatcher
31. Eastern Kingbird
32. Eastern Wood-Pewee
33. Acadian Flycatcher
34. Willow Flycatcher
35. Least Flycatcher
36. Eastern Phoebe
37. Yellow-throated Vireo
38. Warbling Vireo
39. Red-eyed Vireo
40. Blue Jay
41. American Crow
42. Horned Lark
43. Purple Martin
44. Tree Swallow
45. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
46. Bank Swallow
47. Barn Swallow
48. Black-capped Chickadee
49. Tufted Titmouse
50. Red-breasted Nuthatch
51. White-breasted Nuthatch
52. House Wren
53. Sedge Wren
54. Marsh Wren
55. Carolina Wren
56. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
57. Eastern Bluebird
58. Veery
59. Swainson’s Thrush
60. Wood Thrush
61. American Robin
62. Gray Carbird
63. European Starling
64. Cedar Waxwing
65. House Sparrow
66. House Finch
67. American Goldfinch
68. Eastern Towhee
69. Chipping Sparrow
70. Field Sparrow
71. Vesper Sparrow
72. Savannah Sparrow
73. Grasshopper Sparrow
74. Song Sparrow
75. Swamp Sparrow
76. Bobolink
77. Eastern Meadowlark
78. Orchard Oriole
79. Baltimore Oriole
80. Red-winged Blackbird
81. Brown-headed Cowbird
82. Common Grackle
83. Ovenbird 1
84. Louisiana Waterthrush 2
85. Northern Waterthrush 3
86. Golden-winged Warbler 4
87. Blue-winged Warbler 5
88. Black-and-White Warbler 6
89. Prothonotary Warbler 7
90. Tennessee Warbler 8
91. Nashville Warbler 9
92. Mourning Warbler 10
93. Common Yellowthroat 11
94. American Redstart 12
95. Cape May Warbler 13
96. Cerulean Warbler 14
97. Magnolia Warbler 15
98. Bay-breasted Warbler 16
99. Blackburnian Warbler 17
100. Yellow Warbler 18
101. Chestnut-sided Warbler 19
102. Blackpoll Warbler 20
103. Palm Warbler 21
104. Yellow-rumped Warbler 22
105. Black-throated Green Warbler 23
106. Canada Warbler 24
107. Wilson’s Warbler 25
108. Scarlet Tanager
109. Northern Cardinal
110. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
111. Indigo Bunting
112. Dickcissel

Posted by skwclar 19:52 Archived in USA

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Awesome!! Hopefully all those same birds will show up again Tuesday! =D

by Jonathan Bontrager

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