Pigeon River’s 11,605 acres provide for a wide variety of avian habitats, including mature deciduous woodlands, second-growth woodlands, pine plantations, brushy fields, agricultural fields, lakes, ponds, marshes, and creeks/rivers. Many birds can be seen by driving the county roads through the property, a method that covers many different habitats fairly quickly. Walking the trails can be quite rewarding too, although the trail system is so extensive that they cannot all be covered in a single day. Even traveling on Pigeon River itself can be a productive (and fun) way to bird the area–canoes can be rented at the west edge of Mongo on CR 300 N.
Sites West of SR 3:
CR 300 N west from Mongo to CR 400 E has a variety of songbirds, including nesting Alder Flycatchers (DeLorme p. 22 B5-6). The Parking Lot E5 area is good for migrant songbirds in spring and fall. Park at the lot, then cross the road and walk east a short distance to a field road leading south. The woods and fencerows along this road are good for passerines in migration (p. 22 B6). Area D Marsh, on the south side of CR 300 N at CR 400 E, is good for nesting Common Moorhens, Virginia Rails, Marsh Wrens, and sometimes Least Bitterns and Sandhill Cranes. This site is always worth checking for rarities (p. 22 B5). The CR 375 E Bridge crosses Pigeon River and can be found north off of CR 300 N (look for a sign to Curtis Creek Trout Hatchery). On the north side of the bridge, a pool that has formed off of the river can be good for waterfowl in early spring and late fall. To view this pool, park at Parking Lot B4 which is located north of the bridge on the west side of the road (p. 22 B5). Troxel Lake, which is viewable from CR 500 N west of CR 475 E, is worth checking for waterfowl and nesting Virginia Rails (p. 22 A5). The trails to the west and south of Parking Lot C4 are good for migrant songbirds in season. This lot is located where CR 525 E dead ends just north of Pigeon River (p. 22 B6).
Sites East of SR 3:
Mongo Millpond, viewed from the campground behind Pigeon River headquarters, often has waterfowl when other waters are frozen (p. 22 B6). CR 900 E between CR 300 N and CR 200 N, and CR 200 N between CR 900 E and CR 1100 E are good for migrant and nesting woodland songbirds. Both of these areas have trails to explore (p. 22 B6-7). The Waterfowl Resting Area on the south side of CR 300 N near the east end of the FWA is good for migrant waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, and an occasional Bald Eagle (p. 23 B7).
Typical Time to Bird Site: 2-8 Hours
Pigeon River is an excellent area in northeastern Indiana for migrant waterfowl. Waders, rails, and a variety of songbirds are present in summer and during migration. Hawks, owls, and woodpeckers can be found year-round.
Sandhill Cranes nest at the site and often gather at the Waterfowl Resting Area in late summer and during migration. Nesting Virginia Rails , Least Bitterns , and Common Moorhens are best viewed at the Area D Marsh, although the bitterns can be somewhat irregular. Bald Eagles are becoming more common at Pigeon River, with several reports occurring annually either in migration or during the winter. Alder Flycatchers are most reliably found in the morning during late May and June when they actively sing. CR 300 N west from Mongo to CR 400 E is the best place to look for this bird. Olive-sided Flycatchers are infrequently observed in late May and again August through September. Sedge Wrens usually nest at Pigeon River and are best found in the morning from late May through July. Some years, Northern Shrikes are present November through March. Connecticut Warblers are rare, and Mourning Warblers are uncommon during migration–late May through the first few days of June, and again late August through early September.
Northern Saw-whet Owl
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 – Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area
General information, history, maps and resources pertaining to Pigeon River FWA.
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.