Indiana Winter Bird Identification

Indiana Winter Bird Identification
Indiana is known for its farmland, but it has an abundance of bird habitats, including sandy dunes on Lake Michigan, wetlands, deep woods and the Ohio River basin. The weather varies greatly between the northern and southern areas of the state. Human populations also have an effect on available habitat and food sources.

Offer feed to increase your opportunities to spot birds of all kinds, especially rarely seen ones. A free meal is sometimes just the enticement needed to draw in a more reluctant species.


Difficulty: Moderate

Feeder Birds

Step 1
Offer seed to attract birds to your home or land for easy observation. Look at bird size and plumage to discern among smaller birds, like the Tufted Titmouse, House Finch and Purple Finch. The Dark-eyed Junco and Black-capped Chickadee are frequent feeder visitors in winter. Most of the small birds have very distinct patterns and coloring, making identification easy.
Step 2
Feed a variety of seed, bread crumbs, nuts and fruits to maximize the attraction for multiple bird species. Compare and you will find that fewer medium-sized birds frequent winter feeders. The Gray Catbird is one that does. While their feathers may not be as unique, the lack of birds of this size narrows your field of choices.
Step 3
Larger feeder birds include rock pigeons, loud and aggressive blue jays and skittish mourning doves. Those in rural areas may see red-winged blackbirds. The Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird are also common.

Identify these birds by their behavior, and well-defined markings or bright colors, which stand out against the winter snow.
Step 4
Look for several birds of the same type together. Large flocks of crows roost together in the winter, sometimes in cities. They may be attracted to populated areas in order to avoid poor weather, being hunted or for the easy meals scavenged there once the fields have been harvested. Crows, starlings and cowbirds have some of the greatest winter numbers in yearly bird counts.
Step 5
Feed fresh fruit or jelly and you may attract woodpeckers, such as the red-headed, red-bellied, hairy or downy woodpecker. Woodpeckers are often larger birds, starkly black and white with red highlights.

Non Feeder Birds

Step 1
Travel away from town, into more rural and undeveloped areas and you may spot a bald eagle, wild turkey or turkey vulture. The size of these birds sets them apart. A small flash by the roadside or in the brush may be the Bobwhite Quail. You may hear its whistling "bob-bob-white" call.
Step 2
Watch the trees around your feeders. Owls may be seen around feeder sites--not for the seed, but looking for an easy meal of small birds or rodents seeking seeds. The Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Screech-Owl and Short-eared Owl are all Indiana inhabitants.
Step 3
Watch the water. In many parts of the state, Canadian geese are some of the most plentiful birds on view. Wood ducks, black ducks and mallards may be seen in rural ponds or city rivers.

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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