By Terry Bonace
A group of skilled birders spread out to visit sixteen Shirley Heinze Land Trust nature preserves throughout Northwest Indiana. From Lake County to St. Joseph County, they were out looking for migratory birds on one of our peak fall migration days. The knowledge of these birders, the cooperative weather, and most of all, the quality of the habitat within these nature preserves, resulted in the sighting of 108 species and over 1,876 individual birds.
The day began at a chilly thirty-seven degrees, and gradually warmed into the sixties by late morning, increasing bird activity with the warming air. Fall warblers, known for their gorgeous colors spring, provided a challenge for identification in their slightly less gaudy fall plumage, but rarities like the Golden-winged and Mourning Warbler were seen.
Fifteen Purple Finches, no longer purple in September at all, but recognized by their pattern of streaking, and very hard to find in the wild, were located. Uncommon sparrows like the Clay-colored and Lincoln’s, an early arriving Pine Siskin, and raptors, including Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Barred Owls, and no less than two representatives of our national bird, the Bald Eagle, and all seven species of our local woodpeckers, were also spotted. See the list at the following link for a complete report of species seen. 2020 SHLT IAS BIRD COUNT.
Local protected forests, prairies, dunes, and wetlands, preserved by Shirley Heinze, are essential for the survival of a huge diversity of plants, as well as the invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals that make their homes within this complex web of nature. The birds that feed on the bounty of fruits, invertebrates, and small mammals, and use the plants, shrubs, and trees for nesting and cover during migration, are indicators of environmental health.
- Lake County: Seidner Dune and Swale (Hammond), Bayless Dune (Gary), Ivanhoe South (Gary), Gordon and Faith Greiner (Hobart), Cressmoor Prairie (Hobart), and Bur Oak Woods (Hobart).
- Porter County: Beverly Shores Great Marsh (Beverly Shores), John Merle Coulter (Portage), Keith Richard Walner, (Chesterton) Wykes-Plampin (Chesterton), J. Timothy Ritchie (Chesterton), Dale B. Engquist (Chesterton) and Meadowbrook (Valparaiso)
- LaPorte County: Barker Woods (Michigan City) and Ambler Flatwoods (Michigan City)
- St. Joseph County: Lydick Bog
To find a nature preserve near you, visit the Shirely Heinze Preserves page.
Shirley Heinze Land Trust Links:/ By
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Outdoor Activities in Nwi
Bowling – Valparaiso
Forest park Golf and Creekside Golf – Valpo
Maintenance Tips for Your RV
Biking – NWIndiana
Baseball – Gary
Hiking in Northwest Indiana
Hike the Moraine Nature Preserve – Valpo
Hiking At Sunset Hill County Park – Valpo
Wolf Lake Pavilion – Hammond
Hidden Lake Park – Merrillville
Portage Lakefront Riverwalk Park
Lansing Country Club – Golf
Hammond Bird Sanctuary – Hammond
Gabis Arboretum – Valparaiso
Mount Baldy – Indiana Dunes
Edge Adventure Park (Zip Lines) Hobart
Whoa Zone Water Park – Whiting
Northwest Indiana Fall Colors – LaPorte
Ice Fishing – NWIndiana
Sledding – NWIdiana
Ice Skating – NWIndiana