Northwest Indiana Birding Opportunities - Grant Street Marsh
Grant Street marsh, at 350+ acres, includes open water for waterfowl, cattails and reeds for various nesters, shallow areas for shorebirds, and also attracts sparrows, warblers, flycatchers, etc. It is in an otherwise urban area, and thus functions somewhat like a “migrant trap”.
The marsh is very easy and convenient to bird, with 7,000 feet of levee bordering the south and east sides that has a wide, level, firmly packed fine gravel path on top. This allows unobstructed observation from any point on the path, while standing 8-10 feet above the surface of the water (there are very few trees inside the levee). A spotting scope is recommended to cover the entire area.
Over 200 species have been recorded at the marsh. The list includes Eurasian Wigeon, Eared Grebe, Black-billed Cuckoo, King Rail, American Avocet, Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit, White-rumped Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Western Kingbird, and Yellow-headed Blackbird (which has nested in several seasons). Nesting Bald Eagles have been present in recent years.
Grant Street marsh is centrally located among the prime birding areas in the NW corner of the state. It is approximately 20 minutes from Miller Beach as well as the Indiana Dunes State and National Parks, 30 minutes from the Hammond Lakefront Park and Marina, and 35 minutes from Michigan City Harbor.
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The marsh occupies the southwest quadrant of the intersection of Interstate 80/94 and Grant Street in Gary. The best access is at the intersection of Grant Street and West 32nd Avenue, where there is a traffic light. This is the 3rd light south of 80/94, counting the light for the entrance and exit ramps immediately south of 80/94. When you reach the intersection, turn WEST onto a dirt/gravel road which is where 32nd Avenue would be if it extended west of Grant. Drive ~500 feet, park at the base of the levee, and walk up 200 feet to the gravel path on the top of the levee.
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Ownership: City of Gary Parks & Recreation Department
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. Crowds are virtually never an issue.
Parking: Recommended parking is as per the Basic Directions. It is also possible to access the extreme northeast end of the gravel path on the levee by turning west off Grant about 150 feet north of the 2nd light south of 80/94 (this is the light for the businesses on either side). A short paved road dead-ends into the path, and you can park there to bird that end if desired. Accessing the extreme SW end of the levee and path via Chase Street (1 mile west of Grant) is not recommended as Chase dead ends to the north, and the street is not used or maintained in that area.
Accessibility: Not ADA accessible. But as noted, the path is hard packed gravel.
Nearby Amenities: There are no restrooms or other facilities associated with the marsh. There are several truck/travel stops and restaurants on Grant between West 32nd Avenue and 80/94.
Written by: Randy Pals
Photo by: Matt Kalwasinski