Photo Credits: Northern Parula taken by John Valesquez and Field trip announcement from the Cool Creek Nature Center Facebook page.
Opened by the Hamilton County Parks Department in 1990, Cool Creek Park has proven to be one of the best sites in Central Indiana for viewing migrant passerines. The relatively small size of the park (91 acres) makes internal navigation fairly easy and unambiguous. Once inside the park you’ll find a mile-long paved loop and two separate parking areas from which you can venture forth onto the park’s three trails. The parking lots are located at the Nature Center and the Picnic Area.
The 1-mile-long Beech Trail covers the north end of the park and starts at the Picnic Area parking lot. At 1.5 miles in length, Tulip Trail is the longest footpath in the park. This trail starts at the Nature Center parking lot and courses around the park’s outer boundaries. Paw-paw Trail also starts at the Nature Center parking lot. This short trail, some 0.5 miles long, leaves the Nature Center lot and runs through the southern end of the park.
A small creek (Cool Creek) also winds through the park, and although it usually dries up by late summer, it attracts a good number of birds in the spring. Footpaths flank both sides of the creek, allowing for great access throughout much of its length.
The park is very accessible and provides an easy walk for birders of all ages. The Nature Center at Cool Creek is open six days a week, and the staff there can provide additional information about the site. Also of interest at the Nature Center is a feeder area that can be viewed through one-way glass.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 1-2 Hours
A total of 160 species have been sighted in the park since it opened in 1990. Despite its small size it is an excellent spot for migrant passerines. Warbler migration in both spring and fall is typically very good, with 32 species having been recorded in the park. Thrushes and vireos also migrate through the park in good numbers.
There are great opportunities for observing Worm-eating, Hooded, and Cerulean Warblers, all of which nest in the forest. Ferdinand State Forest is certainly among the most reliable locations in the state to find nesting Pine Warblers. All of these warblers arrive in mid-April and are best observed beginning at this time.
Among the many species that nest in the park are Cooper’s Hawks , Yellow-throated Vireos , and Yellow-throated Warblers . All three of these species are best found May through August. The Cooper’s Hawks in particular are observed with great frequency throughout the park during the summer.
Green Heron – nesting birds
Northern Parula – nesting birds
Lawrence’s Warbler – (04-May-1996)
Black-headed Grosbeak – (09-Sep-1997)
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department
Nature Center: 317-848-0576
Pit toilet restrooms are located throughout the park.
Sixty-nine primitive campsites are available at Ferdinand State Forest, each with its own grill and picnic table. Additional lodging can be found in nearby Jasper, IN.
Spring and fall are perhaps the best times to bird Ferdinand State Forest. Summer can be very rewarding as well.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources – State Reservoirs
Select J. Edward Roush Lake to get information on activities, camping, lodging and fees, as well as trail maps and other maps of the reservoir.
Dubois County, Indiana
DeLorme Page 62, Grid A-6
38º 15′ 46.56″ N
86º 47′ 32.64″ W
From the North: Take U.S. 231 south into Dubois County. In Jasper, IN, take SR 162 southeast to SR 264. Turn left (east) onto SR 264 and drive 5 miles to the entrance of the forest.
From the East: Take I-64 west to SR 162 (exit #63). Turn right (north) onto SR 162, drive through the town of Ferdinand, then turn right (east) on SR 264 (Watch for Ferdinand State Forest sign on the right). Drive 5 miles to the State Forest entrance.
Author: Theresia Schwinghammer
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.