Photo Credits: Ryan Sanderson, Indianapolis, Indiana – Herring Gull and Bohemian Waxwing; Beth Dixon, Hobart, Indiana – Common Yellowthroat and Gray Catbird
Beverly Shores is a Dunes community located along Lake Michigan between Mount Baldy and the Indiana Dunes State Park. Although somewhat lesser known than other northwest Indiana birding sites, Beverly Shores is practically unparalleled in both habitat diversity and ease of access, making it a “must stop” site for any Dunes area Big Day itineraries. The site is comprised of two distinct, spatially separated habitats that will be discussed in turn: Beverly Drive and Lake Shore Drive.
Beverly Drive is a two lane road that runs along the southern boundary of the Beverly Shores community, transecting a large tract of interdunal marsh. The interdunal marsh is a wetland habitat that occurs between the old dune crests (before the last recession of Lake Michigan) and the current dune crests. This unique habitat fosters the nationally renowned diversity of plants and animals found within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IDNL). Beverly Drive courses in an east-west orientation for about 3.5 miles between Kemil Road and US 12. The road has major speed restrictions and is heavily patrolled by the Beverly Shores Police.
Beverly Drive can be birded by a couple of methods depending on time constraints and the birds of interest. The best way to sample the greatest number birds is to drive slowly down the road with all the car windows rolled down. Be advised that although this technique produces great numbers and diversity of species, most tallied birds are by sound only and not sight. Therefore it helps to have at least one “song-savvy” member in your birding party! Because there are few pull-offs along Beverly Drive, there are not many opportunities to get out and bird on foot. Be aware that the Beverly Shores Police Department has a fairly low tolerance for abnormal driving behavior and officers may ask you to move along if you’re stopped or moving too slowly. They have, in the past, even been known to utter the word “ticket” when confronting drivers of stopped vehicles. The other birding strategy along Beverly Drive specifically concerns marsh birds found at the road’s west end. Rails and bitterns are best heard in the cattail marsh located at the intersection of Beverly Drive and Kemil Road. If interested in these birds, it may be necessary to pull off along this intersection and listen for them. Dawn and the immediate pre-dawn hours are the best times to see and hear rails, bitterns, and owls in this area.
In May and June, be sure to drive slowly along the tree-shrouded portion of Kemil Road between US 12 and Beverly Drive to listen for calling Acadian Flycatchers, Cerulean Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Local birders have dubbed Beverly Drive “shrike alley” for its tendency to attract Northern Shrikes during the winter months. These birds, however, hunt over large territorries in the interdunal marsh and can be difficult to find on any given day.
Typical Time to bird Beverly Drive: 30-60 minutes.
Lake Shore Drive runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline and defines the northern boundary of Beverly Shores. Although the lake can be viewed along the entire length of the road, parking is fairly restrictive in this residential area. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Lakeview Overlook facility located on the north side of the Lake Shore Drive provides parking and a platform from which to scan the lake. Additional National Lakeshore parking can be found at the north ends of Kemil Road and Central Avenue, both of which require some walking to access the beach.
Migrating loons, grebes, waterfowl, jaegers, and interesting gulls can be found seasonally along this stretch of shoreline. Jaeger watches conducted in recent years have met with excellent results. Check the IN-BIRD Archives for posts on jeagers from Beverly Shores.
Typical Time to bird Lake Shore Drive: 15-60 minutes, although half-day or all-day vigils are sometimes held during major flights.
- The interdunal marsh supports both migrant and breeding populations of warblers, sparrows, flycatchers and other passerines. The west end of the road is best for rails and bitterns in the spring. Lake Shore Drive is regular for ducks, loons, and gulls.
- Specialty Species:
- Red-throated Loon – late October through late November; birds on the water can be amazingly difficult to find with their slender physiques and propensity for diving; mastering in-flight identification of this species greatly increases your odds of finding it on Lake Michigan
- Common Loon – late October through mid-November
- Black Scoter – mid-October through mid-November
- White-winged Scoter – mid-October through mid-November
- Surf Scoter – October through mid-November
- Parasitic Jaeger – mid-September through mid-November; Parasitics typically arrive on the Indiana lakefront immediately after the passage of a cold front, especially one with strong winds from the north
- Olive-sided Flycatcher – mid-August through mid-September; these birds are often seen perched atop snags along Beverly Drive, particularly east of Broadway
- Alder Flycatcher – late May through early June; Alders can be heard calling from the marsh, especially near the intersection of Beverly Drive and St. Clair Street
- Least Flycatcher – throughout May; look for these birds in the aspen saplings along the margins of the interdunal marsh, particularly west of Broadway Street
- Willow Flycatcher – late May through early June; listen for these birds calling from the interdunal marsh
- Northern Shrike – mid-November through mid-January; drive slowly along Beverly Drive, searching the saplings and snags of the interdunal marsh; on average, 1-3 sightings occur in the Dunes area per year
- White-eyed Vireo – May through June; listen for these birds calling along Beverly Drive
- Chestnut-sided Warbler – mid to late May; summer birds regularly occur in the Beverly Shores marsh
- Prairie Warbler – May through June; these birds can be heard from the Kemil Road parking lot during the breeding season
- Yellow-breasted Chat – mid-May through June; Chats occur along the margins of the interdunal marsh, particularly near the intersection of Beverly Drive and St. Clair Street
- Noteworthy Records:
- American White Pelican – (03-Jun-1990) – 2 birds on Lake Michigan
- Harlequin Duck – 7 records since 1983
- Northern Goshawk – 3 records since 1983
- Whimbrel – 3 records on the beach since 1965
- Marbled Godwit – (07-Sep-1981) – one bird on the beach
- Red Knot – (26-Aug-1992) – 2 birds on the beach
- Pomarine Jaeger – (21-Oct-1989); (14-Oct-1999) – 3 birds
- Black-legged Kittiwake – 5 records since 1980
- Sabine’s Gull – (14-Oct-1979) – adult bird; (06-Sep-1996) – juvenile bird
- Snowy Owl – 2 records since 1980
- Varied Thrush – (Jan-Feb-1981); (Feb-Mar-1988)
- Blue Grosbeak – (11-May-1985)
- Clay-colored Sparrow – 3 records since 1988 at Kemil Road parking lot
- Harris’s Sparrow – 4 records since 1958
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
- Beverly Drive:
- Town of Beverly Shores, Indiana
- Lake Shore Drive:
- National Park Service / U.S Department of the Interior
- Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Information: 219-926-7561 x225
- Restrooms are available at the IDNL Visitors’ Center located at Kemil Road and US 12.
- Camping facilities are available at the IDNL’s Dunewood Campground, located on US 12 a few miles west of Beverly Shores. Hotel, motel, and bed-and-breakfast accommodations are available in nearby Michigan City.
- Special Considerations:
- Traffic: The Town of Beverly Shores has its own police force that closely patrols the streets. When birding by car on Beverly Drive, be sure not to stop in the road when traffic is approaching from behind. Cars will pass without much problem if you drive slowly with your flashers on.
Parking: Pull-offs are limited on both Beverly Drive and Lake Shore Drive. For lakefront parking, National Lakeshore parking lots are located at the Lakeview Overlook facility and the north ends of Kemil Road and Central Avenue. The beach can be accessed on foot after parking in one of these lots.
- Temporal Considerations:
- The interdunal marsh supports migrant and breeding populations of warblers, sparrows, flycatchers and other passerines. The bulk of spring migration occurs from late April through mid-June. Many nesting birds remain vocal through June. Rails and bitterns are most vocal in the spring from mid-April through May. Lake Shore Drive is most productive October through March for migrating loons and ducks, which may linger through the cold winter months as long as open water is available. Jaegers are best found along the lakefront from mid-September through mid-November, with October being the traditional “jaeger month”.
- Brock, Kenneth J. Birds of the Indiana Dunes. Revised Edition. The Shirley Heinze Environmental Fund, 1997.
- 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.
- The Homes of Tomorrow
- Five houses built for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair exhibit “The Street of Tomorrow” were disassembled after the fair and shipped on barges to Beverly Shores, Indiana for reassembly. In various stages of disrepair and renovation, these houses are still nestled in the dunes of Beverly Shores. This website from northwestindiana.com discusses each of these houses and shows pictures of their current conditions.
Author: Ken Brock
Editor: Darel Heitkamp
Photos: Ryan Sanderson and Beth Dixon
Porter County, Indiana
DeLorme Page 19, Grid B-10
GPS: 41º 40′ 46.83″ N
-86º 59′ 23.7″ W
From the South: to reach Beverly Drive take I-65 north to Lake County in northwest Indiana. Exit east onto I-80/94 (exit #259) and continue east on I-94 into Porter County after I-80 breaks off to join the Indiana Toll Road. Exit I-94 onto SR 49 north. Continue north on SR 49 to US 12. Go east on US 12 for about 5 miles to Kemil Road, at which intersection you’ll find the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Visitors’ Center. Turn left (north) onto Kemil Road–a road which terminates at Lake Michigan and defines the western boundary of Beverly Shores. About midway between US 12 and the lakefront, Beverly Drive comes in from the right (east) to form a T-intersection with Kemil Road. Beverly Drive starts here and continues east for about 3.5 miles to US 12 near Mount Baldy at the Porter-LaPorte County line. To reach Lake Shore Drive continue north on Kemil Road (past Beverly Drive) to the lakefront. As the road turns to the right (east) it becomes Lake Shore Drive.
From the East: to reach Beverly Drive Take I-80/94 west into Porter County. Exit north onto SR 49. Continue north on SR 49 to US 12. Go east on US 12 for about 5 miles to Kemil Road, at which intersection you’ll find the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Visitors’ Center. Turn left (north) onto Kemil Road–a road which terminates at Lake Michigan and defines the western boundary of Beverly Shores. About midway between US 12 and the lakefront, Beverly Drive comes in from the right (east) to form a T-intersection with Kemil Road. Beverly Drive starts here and continues east for about 3.5 miles to US 12 near Mount Baldy at the Porter-LaPorte County line. To reach Lake Shore Drivecontinue north on Kemil Road (past Beverly Drive) to the lakefront. As the road turns to the right (east) it becomes Lake Shore Drive.
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