Photos taken by John Valesquez at Salamonie Reservoir
This large area contains virtually every habitat found in northeast Indiana. Consequently, it attracts a wide variety of birds, and has probably produced more rarities than any other site in this part of the state. Although Salamonie is not consistently excellent birding, over 100 species can be recorded on good days in late April and May. Much of the area can be driven, but many of the best birding spots require walking. A limited number of trails are handicapped accessible.
Majenica Marsh can be productive for waterfowl and shorebirds in season.
Lost Bridge East SRA offers a great view of the reservoir that can yield waterfowl, gulls, and sometimes eagles in season. To reach this location, enter Lost Bridge East SRA and drive to the parking lot at the end of the entrance road. Walk east from the east end of the lot to a bluff overlooking the east end of the reservoir.
Lost Bridge West SRA contains many areas of interest to birders. At Switchgrass Ponds , waterfowl and waders can be found in season at the western pond, as well as shorebirds in the late summer and fall. The eastern cattail-choked pond may have rails, bitterns and other marsh birds, especially in spring. To reach Switchgrass Ponds turn left just past the gatehouse, then left again at the first opportunity, following signs for a wildlife viewing area. After this second left, jog to the left then quickly to the right past the outhouse to the small parking lot. Another good area for bitterns and rails is a pond located west of the headquarters. To reach it from the area office at Lost Bridge West, take the gravel road west for about 3/4 miles and pull into a parking lot on the right (north) side. Walk a short distance on a lane to the north beside this lot to the pond. The nature center, which is open weekends and most weekday afternoons, has feeders which attract a variety of birds, including winter finches in invasion years. To reach the nature center, return to the main road into Lost Bridge West and take the first right. The second right from the main road leads to the beach, which may have gulls, terns, water birds, and sometimes a few shorebirds when not covered with people. Just before the road to the beach, turn left into a large parking lot. To your left as you enter the lot is the entrance to Tree Trail , which is sometimes good for migrant songbirds. Beyond the turn for the beach, the main road enters the campground. From September through April, proceed straight through the campground to a point on a bluff overlooking the central portion of the reservoir, a good vantage for waterfowl, gulls, and sometimes eagles in season.
Snipe Marsh can be productive for waterfowl, waders, marsh birds and shorebirds in season. Park at the end of the unpaved lane (which may be impassably muddy in wet seasons; if that is the case, park at the entrance to the lane and walk in).
Hilltop Marsh (a.k.a. Five Ponds) area is excellent for migrant waterfowl, rails, bitterns, waders, sparrows, and other songbirds, and may have shorebirds if water levels are low enough. To get to the ponds, find the lane that heads east from the small parking lot to a large brushy field with several ponds. Follow the trail as it bends to the left, then curves several times until it ends at a large pond, then retrace this route to the parking lot. (Note: this trail is not mowed in summer, and may virtually disappear from view.)
Dora-New Holland SRA is good for waterfowl and gulls in season. To view the reservoir, follow the entrance road until you see a large picnic pavilion on your left, just before the road ends at a boat launch parking lot. Turn left past the pavilion, go to the end of the road, and walk the path to your right to a point overlooking the reservoir.
Salamonie Dam is another good viewing point for waterfowl, gulls, and sometimes terns in season. Just north of the dam, the road dips into a low, open, grassy area known as Salamonie Dam Spillway. Walking west from Salamonie Dam Road to CR 50 S can yield rails–including an occasional Yellow Rail–and LeConte’s Sparrow, typically from late April-early May and late September-early October. Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow has also been seen at this site.
Salamonie River State Forest is the best area at Salamonie for woodland songbirds. Fire roads 2 and 3 near the west end of State Forest Road are good, as is the riverside bluff in Hominy Ridge Picnic Area at the east end of State Forest Road. Also, from the Hominy Ridge Picnic Area parking lot, walk into the picnic area and then left across the dike at the end of the pond. Continue straight on this trail to a clearing where you can see a building to your left. Then walk to your right on a fire road that will bend left and eventually lead down the riverside bluff into the river bottoms. This has been a good series of trails over the years.
Typical time required to bird the area: 4-8 hours.
The Salamonie area is good for nesting songbirds of both forest and open country, with thirteen species of warblers and many other songbirds nesting here regularly. Migrant passerines can be quite numerous, especially in the State Forest and Five Ponds area. Modest hawk flights occasionally occur in migration–Hominy Ridge Picnic Area in the State Forest and the Five Ponds area have been the best locations for watching hawks. There are good opportunities for migrant rails, bitterns, waders, and shorebirds at Salamonie–the latter depending on water levels. Loons, grebes, waterfowl, gulls, a few terns, and eagles may be encountered on the reservoir itself. There are usually some waterfowl and gulls present until the reservoir freezes solid.
American Bitterns are most likely encountered at Five Ponds, the eastern pond at Switchgrass Ponds, and the pond west of the headquarters at Lost Bridge West (see site description above). The best time to look for this bird is early April through mid-May, peaking around April 20-25.
Louisiana Waterthrushes nest in Salamonie River State Forest and can be found mid-April through late May.
Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers also nest in the State Forest and are best viewed mid-April through June.
Cerulean , Hooded and Kentucky Warblers are regular nesters in the State Forest but arrive on territory somewhat later. They are most likely encountered mid-May through June.
Prairie Warblers nest just south of Salamonie Dam–the only regular breeding location for this species in northeast Indiana. These birds are reliably present mid-May through June.
Grasshopper, Savannah and Vesper Sparrows , along with Bobolinks and Orchard Orioles , all nest in the grassland areas at Salamonie and along the roads around the reservoir. Mid-May through June is the most reliable time to look for these species.
Northern Shrike is sometimes present during the winter at Five Ponds, but not every year.
Cinnamon Teal – (02-Apr-1996)
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Townsend’s Solitaire – (31-Dec-1996 through 02-Jan-1997)
Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
Salamonie Reservoir: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Managed by: Indiana DNR, Division of Reservoir Management
Salamonie Reservoir Office: 219-468-2125
Salamonie River State Forest: State of Indiana / Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Site Phone Number: 260-468-2125
Standard State Park admission fees apply at Lost Bridge West SRA during the warmer months. As of Jan. 2007, fees are $4 per vehicle Monday through Thursday and $5 Friday through Sunday and holidays for Indiana residents, $7 for nonresidents. Annual state park passes, good at all state parks, can be purchased, currently for $36 resident, $18 senior citizen, $46 nonresident. There are no entrance fees elsewhere at Salamonie.
Outhouses are available at Hominy Ridge Picnic Area and other picnic areas and campgrounds. Indoor restrooms are located in the Nature Center at Lost Bridge West SRA and at the Reservoir Headquarters. Another indoor facility is located just north of the Salamonie Reservoir Dam, although it closes during the winter.
A Family Campground with 32 primitive sites and a Horseman’s Campground with 15 primitive sites are available for public use. Hotel/motel accommodations can be found in nearby Wabash and Huntington.
Hunting: The reservoir area and most of the State Forest are heavily hunted in-season, so wear hunter orange! It may be prudent to avoid off-road walking in firearm deer season.
Insects: Mosquitos can be quite annoying during the summer.
Arachnids: Ticks are numerous in grassy and brushy areas like Five Ponds, especially April-July.
Terrain: Trails may be wet, and fire roads in the State Forest are often churned into a quagmire by horseback riding–so watch your footing!
Late February through early April and October through November are the best times to visit Salamonie for migrant waterfowl. For gulls, November seems to be the most productive month. Migrant passerines can be found late April through May and again September through October, whereas nesting songbirds are most easily found between late May and mid-June. The best times to check the Salamonie area for shorebirds are late April through May and July through October.
Branham, John F. “Salamonie Reservoir and Salamonie State Forest Region, Spring 1974.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 52.3 (1974): 102-3.
Case, Neil A. “LeConte’s Sparrow at Salamonie Reservoir.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 60.1 (1982): 4-5.
Goll, John. Indiana State Parks. Saginaw: Glovebox Guidebooks of America, 1995.
Gorney, Don. “Brown Creeper in Indiana.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 78.1 (2000): 3-15.
Keller, Charles E., Shirley A. Keller, and Timothy C. Keller. Indiana Birds and Their Haunts: A Checklist and Finding Guide. Second Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.
Seng, Phil T., and David J. Case. Indiana Wildlife Viewing Guide. Helena, MT: Falcon Press, 1992.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources – State Reservoirs
Select your favorite reservoir to get information on activities, camping, lodging and fees, as well as trail maps and other maps of the reservoir.
Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Information on the history and attractions of Salamonie River State Forest from the Indiana DNR website. Click on State Forests and then on Salamonie River State Forest.
Huntington County Visitor and Convention Bureau
General information about Salamonie Reservoir plus links to lodging, entertainment, and other recreational areas in Huntington County.
Huntington and Wabash Counties, Indiana
DeLorme Page 28, Grid H-1, continued on Page 34, Grid A-4
Dam (Reservoir) – 40° 48′ 30.1” N 85° 40′ 40.3” W
Lost Bridge – 40° 46′ 30.1” N 85° 37′ 38.2” W
Hominy Ridge (St Forest) – 40° 48′ 31” N 85° 40′ 57.5” W
From the South: From I-69 North, exit onto SR 5 North at exit #78. After only 2-3 miles on SR 5, turn left (west) onto SR 124. From SR 124, turn north onto SR 105. The DNR Reservoir office, your best source of information, is on the west side of SR 105 between SR 124 and the reservoir.
From the West: Take US 24 east into Huntington County, just southwest of Ft. Wayne. Turn right (south) on SR 105, drive through the town of Andrews, and cross the reservoir. The DNR Reservoir Office will be on the right (west) side of the road after crossing the reservoir.
To reach Majenica Marsh from the DNR Reservoir Office, take SR 105 south to SR 124. Take SR 124 east to SR 9, then turn left (north) on SR 9. The Marsh is located on the west side of SR 9 at CR 400 S (DeLorme 34 A3). The entrances to Lost Bridge East SRA and Lost Bridge West SRA are located just south of the reservoir on their respective sides of SR 105 (p. 34 A2). Snipe Marsh is entered via an unpaved lane that turns west off SR 105 just north of the reservoir (p. 34 B2). Hilltop Marsh (known informally to local birders as Five Ponds area) is located on the east side of the reservoir at its northern end, at CR 750 E and CR 200 S in Wabash County (p. 28 H2). To reach this area go north on SR 105 to CR 200 S. Turn left (west) on CR 200 S and continue until it forms a “T” intersection with CR 750 E. Drive south on the dirt road that is the at the corner for 0.75 miles to a small parking lot on the left. Dora-New Holland SRA is on the west side of the reservoir at its northern end, at CR 250 S just west of CR 600 E in Wabash County (p. 28 H1). To reach this area, head west on SR 124, past SR 105, to CR 600 E. Turn right (north) onto CR 600 E and continue until reaching CR 250 S. Salamonie Dam is located on Salamonie Dam Road, which is the road connecting CR 250 S on the west side of the reservoir and CR 100 S on the east side (p. 28 H1). To reach this road, drive west on SR 124 to CR 600 E. Turn right (north) on CR 600 E and continue until CR 250 S. After turning left (west) onto CR 250 S, turn right (north) at the very next road, which is Salamonie Dam Road. This road veers to the right and traverses the dam. Salamonie River State Forest (p. 28 H1) can be entered by turning onto Pefley Road from Salamonie Dam Road just south of the dam, or from SR 524/America Road at its west end.
Author: Jim Haw
Editors: Darel Heitkamp and Dick Patterson
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Indiana Audubon Society's mission is to stimulate interest in birds and their protection; to serve the needs of youth, civic, church, schools and other groups by providing information concerning birds; and to educate the public concerning the necessity for conserving and preserving Indiana's natural heritage, its unique flora and fauna.