Photo of Summer Tanager courtesy of John Valesquez. An example of the birds seen in Lincoln State Park.
Lincoln State Park is composed primarily of mesic upland and bottomland forest dominated by eastern hardwoods–consisting of various oaks, hickories, maples, tulip, walnut, sycamore, elms and others–to create a deciduous setting, while White Pine, Eastern Red Cedar, and other pines represent the dominant conifers. Taken together, these species make for a well-mixed habitat for birds and other wildlife. The understories are typically occupied by Dogwood, Redbud, and immature stands of oaks and hickories.
Topographically, the site is made up of steep slopes and ravines, such that seasonal ponds and swampy areas are created in the bottomlands from accumulated runoff. Old field habitat exists in many areas of the park, often with second growth forest.
Lincoln State Park is perhaps best known for the Mississippi Kites that have nested here throughout most of the 1990s. The first sighting was in May of 1992 when two kites were found near the entrance of the park–one of the birds apparently carrying nesting material. Evidence of nesting success finally came, first in the summer of 1995 when the first fledgling was observed in the park, then in the summer of 1999 when an actual nest was discovered. A young bird was noted to have successfully fledged from this 1999 nest. In the summer of 1997, a second pair of Mississippi Kites was observed in the area of Weber Lake, but no nests or young were found that year. In late August of that same year, a few lucky birders were treated to a playful aerial display involving the resident pair of Mississippi Kites and an adult Swallow-tailed Kite! The annual return of the kites to Lincoln State Park occurs around the 6th of May, a time when they are typically observed in their highest numbers. Seven is the highest number of individuals observed in the park at any one time. They usually depart by the second week of September, with a late date of 14 September. Upon entering the park, follow the signs along the paved road to the Lakeside Shelter House . This popular roosting location presumably has been the site of previous Mississippi Kite nests. The Weber Lake area on Trail 4 and the beach at Lincoln Lake are other prime locations from which to search out the kites.
The park hosts many other birds of interest, including Bald Eagles, Common Loons, Osprey, shorebirds, herons, egrets, and waterfowl–all of which occur seasonally on Lincoln Lake. Good southern Indiana specialties like Worm-eating and Kentucky Warblers can be found at the Sarah Lincoln’s Woods Nature Preserve on Trail 3 . Also check here for nesting Cerulean Warblers in the spring. In addition to being a good location for the kites, the Weber Lake area on Trail 4 is excellent in spring and fall for a variety of migrating thrushes and warblers. Prairie Warblers nest here in the summer as well.
Trail 2 leads away from the gatehouse and goes through the back country of the park–passing through stands of pines and old stripper pits. The trail has produced such birds as Least Flycatcher, Worm-eating, Connecticut, Canada, and Golden-wing Warblers, and Black-billed Cuckoo. The pine areas are typically reliable for nesting Yellow-throated Warblers and Barred Owls. The stripper pits often produce Wild Turkeys, Acadian Flycatchers, and Summer Tanagers in season. Wild Turkeys can also be found at the picnic and shelter areas of the park, as can Eastern Kingbirds. Finally, Trail 2 is also a good area to find wintering finches.
Maps are readily available at the park office.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 1-2 Hours
- Thrushes, vireos, warblers, and sparrows are all regular at Lincoln State Park.
- Specialty Species:
- Mississippi Kites have summered at the park since 1992 and can be found early May through early September. Check for them at the Lakeside Shelter House and near Weber and Lincoln Lakes. Wild Turkeys are present year-round near the stripper pits along Trail 2 and at the park’s shelters and picnic areas. Worm-eating Warblers can be found at the Sarah Lincoln’s Woods Nature Preserve from late April through late August. Kentucky Warblers are also present at the Sarah Lincoln’s Woods Nature Preserve, and are best found early May through early August. Prairie Warblers nest along Trail 4 near Weber Lake and can be observed on territory mid-April through early September. Cerulean Warblers are reliable from mid-April through early July along Trail 3 near the Sarah Lincoln’s Woods Nature Preserve.
- Noteworthy Records:
- Yellow-crowned Night-Heron – (20-Jun-1996)
- Cattle Egret – (26-Apr-1993)
- Tundra Swan – (02-Jan-1999)
- Caspian Tern – (19-Apr-1997)
- American Swallow-tailed Kite – (25-30-Aug-1997)
- Loggerhead Shrike – (28-Mar-1993)
- Mourning Warbler – (28-May-1997)
- Connecticut Warbler – (17-May-1996); (24-May-1997)
GENERAL SITE INFORMATIONOwnership:State of Indiana / Indiana Department of Natural ResourcesRestrooms:Modern toilet facilities are available during summer months at the beach concession building. Pit toilets are available throughout the park.Lodging: Two-hundred and seventy campsites are available at Lincoln State Park. Hotel / motel accommodations can be found at the US 231 / I-64 interchange and in the town of Santa Claus.Temporal Considerations: Spring and fall are the best times to visit the park for migrant passerines, while summer is clearly the time to observe the kites. Although fewer species are found during the winter, birding at this time of year can still be very rewarding.
Goll, John.Indiana State Parks. Saginaw: Glovebox Guidebooks of America, 1995.
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.
Author: David Dugas
Editor: Darel Heitkamp
Photo: John Valesquez
Spencer County, Indiana
DeLorme Page 62, Grid C 3-4
GPS: 38º 06′ 40.42″ N
86º 59′ 52.98″ W
From the North: Take US 231 south to the town of Dale in Spencer County. Proceed through the town of Dale to CR 300 E (about 0.25 miles past Dale), turn left (east), and continue for 2 miles to the town of Lincoln City. Turn left, cross the railroad tracks, then take the first street to the right for approximately 0.5 miles; this street intersects SR 162. The entrance to the park is on the south side of SR 162.
From the East: Take I-64 west to SR 162 (exit #63). Go south on SR 162 for 10 miles to Santa Claus, Indiana. From Santa Claus, continue west on SR 162 for 4 miles to the park entrance.
From the West: From US 231 in Gentryville, go east on SR 162 for 2 miles to the park entrance.
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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.