Central Indiana Birding Opportunities - Stone Head Nature Preserve
Stone Head Nature Preserve is a 140-acre nature preserve in Brown County, located just southeast of the much larger Brown County State Park.
This privately owned nature preserve is open to the public for enjoyment, with over 175 positively identified bird species. It is notable its diversity of wildlife habitats, including the portion north of Salt Creek, the “Zimmerman Wetlands,” which host many common wetland species that can be harder to find in the more typical rolling forest habitat of this part of the state. Also included is a beautiful, steep bluff with deep woods immediately to the south of the creek and a more gentle sloping, abandoned farm field at the west end.
To access the south portions of the property, you must cross the creek. There is no bridge, so visitors must either wade through the water, take one’s boots/socks off, or bring “muck” boots. Plastic bags can also be used to keep your feet dry and simply leave them on the banks for the return crossing. Those that cross the creek will find great forest nesting habitat for many traditional southern nesters, such as Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.
The fall can be worth visiting, as the early successional habitat surrounding the wetlands can host a good diversity and abundance of sparrows. October is the best time to visit for late fall migrant songbirds.
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Address: 4643-5013 W Bellsville Pike, Nashville, IN 47448
Directions: To access the property, travel State Road 46 east of Nashville. After passing Brown County State Park, travel south on State Road 135. 135 tees into Bellsville Pike at the sanctuary.
Hours: The preserve is open dawn to dusk every day.
Ownership: Mike and Jan Kelley
Admission: No fees to visit
Restrictions: Be aware of hunting seasons, this is an active hunting location. No access before 1 p.m. during spring turkey hunting season. Please obey all rules and regulations. Maps and rules are available at a kiosk located at the trailhead of the preserve.
Parking: Most visitors will park at the main lot to the east, known as the Zimmerman Overlook. Overflow parking is available at the rear lot behind the privately owned farmhouse situated at the "T" intersection. Kindly show respect for this private property to ensure the ongoing availability of this facility for nature preserve parking.
Nearby Amenities: Limited amenities on site. Nashville, approximately ten minutes away, has gas, food, and lodging.
Accessibility: Mowed trails are found throughout the entirety of the preserve, but there are no additional accessibility features provided. The hiking trails located north of Salt Creek may become wet, contingent upon seasonal rainfall. Access to the southern portion across the creek may not always be feasible due to the same reason. Exercise caution when crossing the creek, as it features steep banks and flowing water.
Phone Number: (317) 409-2029
Written by: Brad Bumgardner
Photo by: Joni James