September 16, 2020| By Amanda Black
Pictured above: Black & White Warbler
Throughout the second half of the year, millions of birds all across North America flock together and migrate south. Some species take specific paths to certain regions, and others make a broad shift to wherever food is more available. Early fall is a great time in Indiana to witness a large variety of birds passing through that we don’t get to see all year round, (as well as early spring when they travel back north). Beginners and experienced birders alike get the chance to see species they’ve never seen before. Warblers are a large family of small migratory birds that have a wide variety of colorful plumages, making them popular for birders to seek. Many warbler species also exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning the males and females have different coloration. This adds to the rainbow of hues and patterns to see, and makes species identification even more challenging and fun.
Lindenwood Nature Preserve is a great place to visit during bird migration (or any time of year!). With 110 acres of trees, a pond, and a bird feeder area, you are guaranteed to see at least a handful of bird species any time you stop by for a hike, a picnic, or just to sit in the woods a while at one of the many picnic tables or benches. A couple of hot spots for warbler activity at Lindenwood are the pond (on the Trail of Reflection) and the pavilion (at the entrance to the Oak Paradise trail). A few migratory species can also be found visiting the bird feeders at the camp fire circle, although most warblers are primarily insect-eaters that stay in the trees. The pond and pavilion areas provide higher concentrations of insects due to the water, wildflowers, and fruit-bearing trees many of them depend on.
Pictured above: Blackburnian Warbler
If you want to try your hand at bird identification, binoculars are highly recommended. There are many great field guides and smartphone apps that can help you narrow down your possibilities by size, color, location, and behavior. I recommend the Merlin Bird ID app by The Cornell Lab. It is user-friendly and provides several real photos (including males, females, and juveniles if they vary), sound recordings, and range maps for each bird. It also allows you to keep a list of all the species you have seen. Personally, I’ve recorded 77 different species of birds that I observed at Lindenwood in 2019.
Lindenwood is open every day from dawn until dusk. Park brochures and trail maps are available outside the office building next to the sign-in podium. Check the Fun Times catalog or the Lindenwood Nature Preserve Facebook page for information on guided hikes and other events. Feather Fest, a birding festival held at Lindenwood for the first time last year, will hopefully be back on the schedule for 2021, complete with visiting hawks and owls from Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rescue. Lindenwood is a free city park with a wheelchair and stroller-accessible trail all the way to the pond, and wheelchair-accessible picnic tables. Please note that since it is a Nature Preserve, pets are not allowed, and collection of any plants, mushrooms, or other items is prohibited. Please help keep the preserve healthy by staying on the marked paths and disposing of all trash in the trash cans provided in the parking area.
Amanda Black, Naturalist for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation
Amanda has a Bachelor’s degree in biology and previous experience as a zookeeper and a microbiology lab technician. She is currently earning her Master’s degree in Higher Education with plans to teach college.