Lesser Known Birding Hotspots: Goose Pond FWA in Indiana

Goose Pond is one of the many birding hotspots that make Indiana a wonderful place for birding.

Rob Ripma

Goose Pond FWA has only existed for about 15 years and prior to being restored, it was open farm land. When the Natural Resources Conservation Service got a conservation easement on the property, they started to restore 7,000 acres of land to its original wetland state. In 2005, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources purchased 8,064 acres of land including all of the 7,200 acre restoration area. The result has been the creation of one of the top birding hotspots in all of the Midwest.

A view of the frozen wetlands during the winter months with a Bald Eagle soaring over.

A view of the frozen wetlands during the winter months with a Bald Eagle soaring over.

I was lucky enough to be living only about an hour away from this property during some of the early stages of the restoration project and visited the area often to check on the progress and to see if the birds were starting to return to the wetland. I was quite surprised to see how quickly many wetland species returned to the area. Having been drained for about 100 years, I was expecting a years long process of the birds attempting to find the area again. Instead, they return almost immediately to suitable habitat.

Migrating shorebirds began to use the area right away and the resulting species list has been incredible. From thousands of yellowlegs to extreme rarities such as Spotted Redshank, you never really know what you might find during shorebird migration. A large population of Black-necked Stilts also breed on the property now.

Black-necked Stilts are commonly found during the breeding season at Goose Pond FWA.

Black-necked Stilts are commonly found during the breeding season at Goose Pond FWA.

Marsh and grassland nesting birds have found Goose Pond and spring mornings are filled with the songs of birds setting up territories and finding mates. Henslow’s and Grasshopper Sparrows are abundant and Marsh and Sedge Wrens can be found with a little more work. Dickcissels can also be found throughout the property and Blue Grosbeaks are present in the proper habitat.

While this can be a hard species to find in many locations, Henslow's Sparrows are very common breeders at Goose Pond.

While this can be a hard species to find in many locations, Henslow’s Sparrows are very common breeders at Goose Pond.

Goose Pond FWA has a good number of Dickcissels on the property.

Goose Pond FWA has a good number of Dickcissels on the property.

Grasshopper Sparrows can be heard singing all over Goose Pond FWA. If you get lucky, you'll find one perched up for some good photos.

Grasshopper Sparrows can be heard singing all over Goose Pond FWA. If you get lucky, you’ll find one perched up for some good photos.

In addition to all of the regularly occurring birds of the property, Goose Pond seems to be a rare bird magnet! Just some of the incredible records from the property include, Roseate Spoonbill, Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Hooded Crane, Curlew Sandpiper, and Neotropic Cormorant. If you are hoping to have a chance to find a rare bird in Indiana, Goose Pond is the place to be!

Next time you find yourself in southern Indiana, I encourage you to check out this amazing place! You can learn more by clicking here.

  1. Sondra says

    I just saw this post on FB a few seconds ago and thought it was funny because I JUST saw this bird yesterday for the 1st time when I visited the El Paso botancial garden. They have a small wetland there with these and other birds.

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