Birdwatching

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler. Photo by Photo by Charles Sorenson

Bald Eagle flying over Hovey Lake

Bald Eagle at Hovey Lake. Photo by Chris Hancock

Posey County is a premiere spot for birdwatching in the midwest. It’s also a special place for Indiana birders, as our deep south ecosystem is very different than the rest of the state.

With its lush forests and wetlands on the dividing line between the northern and southern ecosystems in the United States, Posey County attracts a great variety of birds, which include waterfowl, birds of prey, and songbirds.

Twin Swamps, Hovey Lake, and many other locations throughout the  Point are great year-round spots for birdwatching. Harmonie State Park, with its nice variety of ecosystems, is great as well.

For many migratory species such as the Prothonotary Warbler or numerous types of Ducks and Geese; Hovey Lake, Twin Swamps, and Harmonie State Park are considered “south” by birds that fly south for the winter. Over 20 species of migratory waterfowl have been observed in recent years.

From early May to perhaps as late as mid-August, the Point and Harmonie State Park are breeding grounds for the bright yellow Profanatory Warblers. The Profanatory Warbler is considered prime target for bird watchers. They are spectacular beautiful birds that appear only for short time. They nest in tree cavities, breed, raise their hatchlings, and then leave.

Profanatory Warblers are not rare, but as they live deep in the wetlands and never come to feeders, they are difficult to find, though much less difficult in Posey County than most places. Yellow Warblers nest here, as well.

Birds of prey can be seen year-round, including the magnificent American Bald Eagle. Posey County has at least six eagle nests, including at Hovey Lake, Big Cypress Slough, and Ribeyre Island near New Harmony. One can usually see them on a drive down to the Point, and often in New Harmony on the Wabash River trail, where they often perch high in an old Cottonwood on the bank.

The Eagles begin nesting in January or February. By late summer, the youngsters are out. They may not be immediately recognizable because immature eagles are brown or splotchy. They don’t get their distinctive white heads until they reach five years, but you can still recognize them by sheer size.

Posey County is also home to the typical Hawks and Owls of Indiana, as well as a couple species of vultures. And we are the only place in Indiana to see Fish Crows, which nest here in summer.

The county is home to seven species of Woodpecker, including the yellow bellied sapsucker in winter, which is not rare, but is hard to see. And a lot of other warblers, herons, egrets, and other species too numerous to mention.

What species of birds you will see on any given visit, of course, will vary from month to month, or season to season.

For example, Cliff Swallows, which are rare in the midwest, spend the summer out by John T. Meyers Locks and Dam. In winter, thousands of Double Crested Cormorants flock to Hovey Lake.

The Point is home to an incredible variety of Sparrows, as well. These aren’t the kind of Sparrows you see at backyard bird feeders. They nest in the boreal forests of Canada and stay as far away from people as possible.

Around Hovey Lake, or out in the grasslands of the Weyerbacher Wetlands Preserve or the Wabash Lowlands, you’ll find Swamp Sparrows, White Throated, White Crowned, American Tree, and Savannah Sparrows, among others, including the Eastern Towhee, which is the largest sparrow. The grasslands is also a good place to see Rusty Blackbirds, which has rapidly become endangered and may soon go the way of the Carrier Pigeon.

Posey County’s central location in the United States, give birdwatchers the opportunity to see species from the eastern hardwood forests to the western grasslands and mountains, the southern wetlands and swamps and the boreal forests of Canada.

 

Audubon Society

Birds in the Yard