Southwest Indiana Birding Opportunities - Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
Wesselman Woods is a 200-acre old growth bottomland forest found on Evansville’s east side.
It contains remnants of the Wabash-Erie canal and is a great example of a pre-settlement Indiana forest. The woods contain many species of trees including maples, hickories, elms, and oaks. The forest is home to some of Indiana's largest trees with a canopy over 100 feet tall. Wesselman’s also contains an extensive understory made mostly of paw-paws, spicebush, and hackberry.
Wesselman Woods has over 5 miles of trails that give visitors plenty of views of the forest. The trails cover several different habitats throughout the woods including a seasonal pond, secondary growth forest, and a man-made pond. The biggest draw to the property is the old growth forest which draws many species during migration. The nature center in the woods also has a very nice bird feeding area that is easily accessible. Wesselman Woods is an excellent migrate trap that brings in many species during April and May. You can usually find thrushes, warblers, tanagers, and grosbeaks in abundance during spring migration. The woods have nesting Barred and Great horned Owls and Wood Ducks nest at the seasonal pond. During the summer months tanagers and vireos commonly nest in tallest of the forest trees. All the usual species of woodpeckers can be found in the woods as well as several species of flycatchers during the spring and summer.
Wesselman Woods has hosted some rarities in the past. A varied thrush was seen for several weeks at the bird feeding area around the nature center during the winter of 2012-13. Red Crossbills were found in March of 2013. Other interesting finds are Black-throated Blue, Cape May, and Connecticut Warblers found during migration.
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551 N. Boeke Rd.
Evansville, IN 47711
Enter Wesselman Park; stay to the right. Once you reach the forest the road takes a sharp left. After a quarter of a mile, the entrance is on the right.
Hours: Hours vary depending on season.
Ownership: The woods is owned by the City of Evansville but is managed by Wesselman Nature Society.
Admission: $5 per person.
Restrictions: The trails are only accessible when the nature center is open. This limits early and late birding, but you can bird the edge of the woods from the park roads. During the warmer months insects can be a bother so bring bug spray.
Nearby Amenities: The nature center has a restroom and an indoor bird feeding area.
Accessibility: Some of the trails are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Phone Number: (812) 479-0771
Written by: Neal Bogan
Photo by: Jeff Timmons