Word is starting to get out on The Bend’s birds.
Five birding spots are considered popular enough to be included on the Indiana Birding Trail. Another one isn’t far behind. They should be focal points of any visit to The Bend for birding.
What makes these places great? We turned to Evie Kirkwood, former director of St. Joseph County Parks and an avid birder, for insight.
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Bendix Woods County Park
Our list is in alphabetical order, but this is also Kirkwood’s favorite spot. She goes to Bendix Woods County Park every year during spring when the trillium is in bloom and warblers abound.
“It’s a special place,” Kirkwood says.
Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area
Who knew an excellent birding area could spring from an old landfill? Grassland rarities like Henslow’s sparrow, sedge wren, grasshopper sparrow, dickcissel and bobolink call Beverly Crone home. These are best viewed during summer.
“Because it has a gravel path through it,” Kirkwood says, “you can literally walk through with your binoculars or spotting scope and see, pretty easily, all those birds.”
Potato Creek State Park
Probably The Bend’s most well-known birding area and its only state park. Potato Creek includes heavily wooded areas, wetlands, prairie and Worster Lake.
You’ll find warblers in the spring and fall, waterfowl around the lake and wetlands, plus bald eagles and ospreys. Since a lot of birders visit the park, Kirkwood recommends a stop at the nature center for tips on trails and recent sightings.
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Rum Village Park
Although not formally recognized on the Indiana Birding Trail, Rum Village is notable. Its 160 acres are in the South Bend city limits and there’s a large bird-viewing window in the nature center.
“Somebody could see 10 or 15 species right there before venturing out on the trails,” Kirkwood says. “It’s great for kids.”
Spicer Lake Nature Preserve
Two “kettle-hole” lakes are the centerpiece of a 320-acre property that’s mostly swampland. There are over six miles of hiking trails and a boardwalk that leads to Spicer Lake.
You can find warblers during migration and woodpeckers year-round, Kirkwood says.
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St. Patrick’s County Park
Bald eagles are the main event here. If you can’t spot them yourself, you can often do so via the livestream at Morrison Family Pavilion. Elsewhere in St. Patrick’s County Park you’ll find ospreys, rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles and more.
“I’ve had people say they like coming here because it’s easier access,” Kirkwood says. “They don’t have to spend the whole day because they can get to the habitats. I think that’s something to think about.”