Northwest Indiana Birding Opportunities - St. Patrick's County Park
This park consists of 398 acres of diverse habitat creating rich edges between large lawns, river front, ponds, creeks and wetlands, orchards, pine stands, woodland and meadows.
Look for spring migrant warblers along the ponds and woodland edges, and winter waterfowl in the river. In the Manion Cabin area, search for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Baltimore Orioles in the sycamores and along the meadow edges in spring and summer. There is an active Osprey nesting platform below the Manion Cabin.
The wetland in the flood plain south of the Brown Barn is a good spot to check for a variety of woodpeckers, occasional herons, and Red-shouldered Hawks, year-round. The Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) imbedded in the park (east of the main entrance road) holds a good mix of species found in scrub habitat including Brown Thrashers, sparrows and flycatchers during the breeding season. Check the orchard area for Eastern Bluebirds. The pavilion in ND-LEEF is a good place to observe nesting Bald Eagles.
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Indiana Dunes State Park
50651 Laurel Road
South Bend, IN 46637
The entrance is off Auten Road, five miles north of Indiana Toll Road exit 77.
Hours: Park hours vary seasonally. The gates are open by 8 am on weekday mornings and at 10 am on weekends and holidays. Check the website or park gate for seasonal closing times. Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Ownership: St. Joseph County Parks
Admission: Vehicle entrance fees apply on peak winter weekends/holidays and April-October weekends/holidays.
Restrictions: Please obey all park rules and regulations. Pets must be leashed. No hiking or pets on groomed ski trails when snow is present. (Limited winter hiking trails are available.)
Parking: Parking can be found throughout the park, including near the Red Barn, playground, and river front. (Some lots are closed in winter.)
Nearby Amenities: Restrooms open year-round in the White Barn. Trail maps are available at the park office in the White Barn, or at the gatehouse. On-site weekend cabin rental available. Friday-Sundays during summer and early fall, canoe/kayak rentals are available at the park for exploring the St. Joseph River (includes shuttle service.) The park borders the Michigan state line and is adjacent to Madeline Bertrand County Park with direct hiking access between the two parks. St. Patrick’s is within five miles of the University of Notre Dame and several restaurants and hotels are located within five miles on SR 933.
Accessibility: Short paved path along the immediate river front with river overlook. All other trails are soft surface, including some natural staircases and foot bridges.
Phone Number: (574) 277-4828
Written by: Allee Forsberg
Photo by: St. Joseph County Parks