Last weekend, I was birding at a very interesting grassland in Northwest Indiana called Kankakee Sands. The property is owned by the Nature Conservancy and it protects a habitat zone that is rather unusual in the state, Central Tallgrass Prairie. We’ve lost 99.9% of our original prairies, wetlands, black oak barrens, and sand prairies in Indiana, making this property critical to the species that use these habitats. Since Upland Sandpipers love grasslands and prairies, it’s no surprise that you can find this species in the Kankakee Sands region.
While I was unable to find one while on the actual preserve, I did find one south of the property. The bird flew up from the side of the road as we drove by but quickly settled into a farm field. I was able to sit in my car near the bird for the next 5 minutes taking loads of photos! I’ve seen the species in Indiana before and also in South Dakota where they are much more common, but it’s always a special occasion for me when I see them. It’s especially amazing if you get to hear them call! You can see how awesome their call is by listening to it here. Upland Sandpipers, like many bird species of grassland and prairie habitats has undergone serious and steady declines over the last 100 years. While hunting has played some role in the decline, it is mainly caused by habitat loss. Grasslands have disappeared at an alarming rate and it’s taken its toll on this species.
Have you ever seen an Upland Sandpiper? If so, where was it?