As fall migration continues, September is a great month to capture our migrating warblers, vireos, thrushes, and flycatchers. Later on, sparrows will dominate, and the first winter finches will start to enter the dunes. But for now, the main flight of our neo-tropical migrants are in high gear for birders to find. The beach may still hold a few lingering shorebirds, but the large majority have already moved through by now.
The big birding event of the month takes place this upcoming Saturday, September 21. In the continuing effort to promote birding in the dunes, local and visiting birders will host a special “big sit” at the new bird observation tower at Dunes State Park all day Saturday. A big sit is a non-competitive birding event, similar to a birdathon or big day, but the objective is to count all the birds you can find from a limited area. In our case, it’s the new bird observation platform and the surrounding area by the park’s west lot. It’s free and for anyone that wants to hang out. Birders will likely be there early (7am) and will come and go throughout the day. Come for the entire morning, or just an hour. Your observations will help in the count. A previous big sit saw nearly 100 species.
An added bonus this year will be the banding nets from Indiana Dunes State Park. Volunteers will be manning the nets in the morning hours to see what additional birds can be found migrating past. Check the picnic table near the base of the platform for any birds that are being banded after 8am.
If you can’t make it out Saturday, we’ll have other birding activities this fall. In collaboration with the Indiana Dunes tourism, you may start seeing the hashtag #dunesbirding used. It will be a way to separate the dunes birding opportunities on many social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook. In addition, the 5th year of saw-whet owl banding is coming fast! Join us for another fun season with the cutest birds in the world!