Southwest Indiana Birding Opportunities -Cane Ridge WMA | Tern Bar Slough WDCA
Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area was created as a joint restoration project by the US Fish & Wildlife Service Duke EnergyHabitat Conservation Plan to provide a nesting area for the federally endangered “interior” Least Tern.
In addition to supporting a breeding colony of these birds, this 463-acre property also provides wetland habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl, waders, shorebirds, gulls and terns. Cane Ridge is recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Tern Bar Slough Wildlife Diversity Area lies immediately east of Cane Ridge, and consists of 840 acres of grassland, scrub and wetland habitat.
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Cane Ridge and Tern Bar Slough can be productive any time of year. Spring and fall migration are obvious high points, but summer yields breeding Least Terns and grassland birds (and later, migrating shorebirds and herons), while winter into early spring sees a massive influx of waterfowl – especially Snow Geese, which occupy nearby Gibson Lake in the tens or even hundreds of thousands.
Cane Ridge: 38°19'59.4"N 87°46'00.1"W Turn south off IN-64 onto IN-65. Turn west on Base Road, then south on CR 850W. Turn west on CR 150S and follow it around the bottom of Gibson Lake to CR 1075W, then turn south (the only direction available). The Cane Ridge observation deck will be on the right.
Tern Bar Slough: 38°19'27.9"N 87°45'16.8"W from CR 150S above, turn south on CR 1000W. Parking areas will be immediately on the right and left, with an additional parking area about a half mile south on the left.
Hours: No hours posted.
Ownership: Cane Ridge is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as a unit of the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. Tern Bar Slough is managed by the Indiana DNR.
Admission: No charge.
Restrictions: Birding at Cane Ridge is only allowed from the observation deck or the county roads; walking the levees is not permitted. Walking the levees is allowed at Tern Bar Slough, except during Least Tern nesting season, when portions of the area may be closed off.
Parking: The Cane Ridge observation deck has a large gravel parking area. Tern Bar Slough has small gravel or dirt parking areas, some of which can become quite muddy when it rains.
Nearby Amenities: None on-site. Nearest facilities and accommodations are in either Mt. Carmel, IL (5 minutes away) or Princeton, IN (15 minutes away).
Accessibility: The parking area and observation deck at Cane Ridge are handicap-accessible; the parking area and levee trails at Tern Bar Slough are not.
Website: A property map can be found at: flickr.com/photos/steve-gifford/7097873405
Written by: Mark Welter
Photo By: Ryan Sanderson