How to be successful at Birdwatching in Indiana Dunes

House Wren

This biggest surprise for me, last summer, was how exciting extended quiet time birdwatching and photographing the birds in our own gardens could be. I started the summer, after travels to exotic destinations around the world, expecting to be bored with the robins, warblers, House Sparrows, American Goldfinches, and House Wrens that inhabit our Indiana Dunes summer house garden. I ended up photographing these seemingly ordinary species, which I believe are among my most beautiful photographs of birds taken during the last decade. I worked hard taking these shots, sitting quietly for hours watching them. I did everything I thought possible to attract the birds and also to create beautiful settings.

American Goldfinch

Setting the stage for birdwatching and photography 

Begin birdwatching and look around your garden and find the most beautiful areas. Try to enhance those places and find objects to make the birds gravitate to them. For example, I hung a bird feeder under the lovely moss-covered branch in this picture and created a water feature below the branch to get the birds to the area. I was hoping they would be attracted to the water and perch on the velvety green branch. It worked!

Northern Cardinal

Birdwatching made easy with birdseed and birdfeeders

I visited the local hardware store, and Chuck Roth’s eclectic Chesterton Feed and Garden Center, gathering up every inviting birdhouse, birdbath, and bird feeder I could find. I asked Chuck and his helpful staff to give me advice on the kinds of food that would attract the birds in the area. I use 3 different kinds of bird food: a suet cake in a suet feeder, thistle in a mesh feeder, and a choice blend of birdseed in my bird feeder which attracts a variety of birds including chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, finches, cardinals and woodpeckers, which are all abundant in my garden. Our garden was a seven-course meal. I purchased flowering plants that not only attract birds but also provide colorful settings. Birdwatching in this scenery is very exciting since many species come together to have a bite and gather. 

Black-throated Green Warbler

Birdwatching near the water feature

I took this shot of the Black-throated Green Warbler on the rocks above the water feature. I created this birdwatching attraction by digging a hole about two feet around. I filled the hole with plastic sheeting and covered the plastic with stones, bordering the hole with rocks. I attached a bubbler to create moving water to attract the birds and a beautiful setting in which to photograph them. I got this lovely shot when the warblers came to the water on a hot summer day. While I don’t feel compelled to include the water in all the shots I take at this little watering hole, it sure attracted birds all summer.

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