The park’s 605 acres, including a 270-acre dedicated state nature preserve, contain perhaps the largest remaining tract of woodland in Allen County. Sloping down from a forested prehistoric sand dune near the western outlet of ancient Lake Maumee, the mature woodlands become low and swampy in the Little River bottoms. There are also areas of second-growth woods, bushy thickets in an early stage of succession, brushy fields, a barrow pit lake, and a seasonal marsh.
Although it has produced few exceptional rarities, Fox Island is still the best spot in northeast Indiana for migrant woodland songbirds. A variety of walking paths offer opportunities to observe birds and an excellent display of wildflowers–the latter threatened by garlic mustard infestation. Birding can be very good, especially early in the morning, around the parking lots at the Nature Center and the Nature Education Building. Migrant songbirds are found throughout the park, but tend to favor the bushy second-growth areas, the north side of the barrow pit lake, and the thickets along the seasonal marsh. In the winter, the feeders at the Nature Education Building can be quite productive.
Except for the easy-to-access areas at the Nature Center and the Education Building, the park must be birded on foot. Although all trails can be good for birding, the loop west from marked posts A and B is probably the most consistently good. Trail maps are available at the Nature Center and the main trail entrance. Out-of-date bird checklists are available at the Nature Center.
Much of the site is accessible to the walking disabled, provided they stay on the established trails and exercise caution. Parts of the site are wheelchair accessible.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 3-6 Hours
Among the 219 recorded species at Fox Island, the park is especially noted for woodland songbirds of all types, including warblers, vireos, thrushes, and flycatchers. Sparrows, woodpeckers, hawks, owls, some marsh birds, and limited numbers of waterfowl can be seen in season.
Olive-sided Flycatchers are reported 1-3 times annually; most records occur 08-May through 26-May and 22-Aug through 14-Sep.
Alder Flycatchers are uncommon migrants found 16-25-May.
Yellow-bellied Flycatchers , also uncommon migrants, occur 14-May through 01-Jun and again 17-Aug through 20-Sep.
Connecticut Warblers are infrequently found 08-27-May and again 25-Aug through 16-Sep.
Mourning Warblers are uncommon migrants best found 07-May through 02-Jun and again 20-Aug through 22-Sep.
Note: You cannot count on finding any particular one of these species on a given day
Little Blue Heron
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Boreal Chickadee – (08-09-May-1976)
General Site Information
Ownership: Allen County Parks Department
(01-May to 30-Sep) 9:00 am – 8:00 pm Tuesday-Sunday. The park has been opening early (around 7 a.m.) from about mid April to mid May in recent years. Inquire about exact dates and times of early opening from Allen County Parks.
(01-Oct to 30-Apr) 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Tuesday-Sunday
The entrance fee is $2.00 per person, and children 6 and under are free. If no gate attendant is on duty, pay at the self-service post just inside the gatehouse or, if no envelopes are there, at the Nature Center. Annual passes are available at the Nature Center. Free admission is granted with membership in the Fox Island Alliance, a group formed to support the park and its programs. Inquire at the Nature Center for membership information.
In the winter when the ground is snow-covered, most of the trails are open ONLY to cross-country skiing. Foot traffic is not allowed on the trails at this time of year.
Indoor restrooms are located at the Nature Center and Education Building; outhouses can be found in the Education Building parking lot and at the lake.
While there are no camping facilities at Fox Island, ample hotel/motel accommodations can be found in Fort Wayne.
Insects: Mosquitos are a major problem from late May into September.
Terrain: Expect very wet grass on some trails in early morning any time of year except midwinter. Trails are often muddy in spring, with some areas underwater.
Birding at Fox Island is especially productive during spring and fall migrations, 5-25-May and 25-Aug through early October. Up to 29 species of warblers and 100 total bird species have been seen at this site on a single day in May. In addition to the outstanding May birds, Fox Island is a great site for migrants earlier in the spring (late March on), and later in the fall (into late October). Summer is good for nesting woodland species, but the hordes of mosquitos that inhabit the park can be quite menacing. Birding in winter is generally unexciting, but the Nature Education Building feeders occasionally have winter finches. Good numbers of migrants are more likely on the morning after passage of a warm front in spring or a cold front in fall. Birds are most active early in the morning.
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.
Spangler, Iva, and James Haw. “Fox Island Bird Study Project.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 53.1 (1975): 15-16.
Spangler, Iva, et al. “Fox Island Bird Study Project.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 51.1 (1973): 24-25.
Spangler, Iva, and J. Edward Parrot. “Fox Island Bird Study Project.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 51.3 (1973): 94-7.
Author: Jim Haw
Editor: 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.