South Winds Are Coming!

Caspian Tern over Lake Michigan

We’re getting excited with the possibilities this season!  The first forecasted south, warm winds are set to arrive this week.  We should start to see the first early movement of blackbirds and robins, as well as waterfowl out over the lake.  With an official counter this season, it’s possible to log some interesting high counts, including some possible state record counts.  The thoughts of new, first state records is also not out of question this year. how many birds will fly by the tower site this season?  250,000…. 500,000…. 1 million!?

2010 Green Tower Birds

We are forecasting the official start of the Green Tower counter season for Tuesday, March 6.  The protocol will be to begin counting within the first 30 minutes of sunrise, and weather permitting continue through a six hour period.  Our first few morning may greet us with below freezing temperatures, but the good news is that temperatures will continue to rise through the season.  This year’s lake is much more open than normal, with zero shelf ice to drive feeding ducks farther off shore.    With this much open water, we expect an early and heavy duck movement, with many species probably peaking a few weeks earlier than normal.

Birding the Indiana Dunes!

Migration is a promise… a promise to return.  For eons, birds have returned to and through the dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan.  This mass migration is a phenomenon to be seen by any Hoosier (or out of state) birder!  Here, from a small dune top, one can witness the rafts of migrating waterfowl, wonder in thousands of songbirds flying overhead, and sit back and enjoy an afternoon raptor flight.  All, while sitting in one position.

Migrating Blue Jay in May

For many years, the mass migration, or longshore flight has been well noted among lakefront birders.  For the first time in 2012, this longshore migration will be quantified with an official bird counter.  From March through May we welcome birding phenom Brendan Grube, as he grapples with the identification and quantifying of an estimated 1/2 million individual birds that will flyover the old Green Tower site at Indiana Dunes State Park.  Our counts will occur 5 days a week and attempt to document the true spring magnitude of migration along the Indiana Dunes.  This position is funded by the Lake Michigan Coastal Program and sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Migratory Bird Association.

Want to witness it for yourself?  Visitors are welcome to the the top of the staircase where Trail 3 starts.  Park in the Indiana Dunes State Park West Lot on an early morning with south winds.  Check back frequently for updated daily counts as the season progresses!

Birding the old Green Tower high dune at Indiana Dunes State Park