Whiting Park is a well-maintained 14-acre park that sits on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Separated by less than 2 km along the lakefront, Whiting Park functions as a lakeside trap much like the Migrant Trap does. Yet because the cover at Whiting Park is less dense, and because the site is generally less isolated by surrounding heavy industry, it rarely achieves the concentrations of birds found at the Migrant Trap. One clear advantage of birding Whiting Park, though, lies in its paved walkways and mowed lawns, making navigation relatively easy. The park is spacious and contains various types of cover, including deciduous trees, conifers, brush, hedges, and flower beds. A large goldfish pond located on the park’s western end often provides superb looks at bathing migrants, including many species of warblers. The boulder-piled shoreline, which is technically NOT a part of Whiting Park, was sold by the city of Whiting to Lake County in the 1980s. Nonetheless, it offers a good view of the lake and is always worth a scan.
One exceptional area of interest at Whiting Park is “the wall”, a 5-foot-tall concrete structure which forms the southern boundary of the park. Sheltered from northerly Lake Michigan winds, the south side of the wall is lined with thick brush, providing ideal cover for small migrant passerines. Walking “the wall” anytime during migration can be exceedingly fruitful, and during periods of high winds it can harbor virtually the only migrants to be found along the lakefront.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 45-90 Minutes
- During migration, the bird families most likely to be encountered at Whiting Park include thrushes, warblers, vireos, and sparrows.
- Specialty Species:
- Harlequin Ducks are often spotted diving in the rough waters around the breakwalls at Whiting Park, though perhaps seen less frequently here than at Michigan City Harbor or The Port of Indiana. These ducks can be found anytime from November through March as long as open water is available. A good number of Snowy Owls have been noted at this site during invasion years, usually found perched on the breakwalls in November or December. Connecticut and Mourning Warblers are recorded annually behind the wall at Whiting Park, peaking in late May and early September. Early October is the best time to find LeConte’s Sparrows , which are occasionally present behind the wall in the grassy cover near the tracks.
- Noteworthy Records:
- Northern Saw-whet Owl
- Worm-eating Warbler
- Kirtland’s Warbler – (24-Sep-1994) – an adult female was found behind the wall.
- Lark Sparrow
- Henslow’s Sparrow
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
- City of Whiting, Indiana / Whiting Parks Department
- 219-659-0860 or 219-473-4447
- Officially, Whiting Park is open 7:30 am-10:00 pm daily May through September. Unofficially, however, birders have noted that access to the park is available year-round.
- Although the posted fee schedule states that “parking is free for Whiting residents, $5.00 for non-Whiting residents, and $10.00 for out-of-state residents,” most birders have found that the collection of fees at Whiting Park is not routinely enforced.
- Restrooms are available throughout late spring and summer.
- Hotel / motel accommodations are available in Whiting and other nearby lakefront towns.
- Special Considerations:
- Terrain: While Whiting Park proper (north of the wall) is comprised of sidewalks and well-manicured lawns, the south side of the wall is more difficult to navigate, with tall scattered weeds and uneven terrain.
- Temporal Considerations:
- Productive birding at Whiting Park is limited to spring and fall migrations: late April through May and late August through mid-October. While the main fall warbler flight occurs throughout the month of September, sparrows tend to peak from late September through mid-October. Whiting Park is a particularly good site to visit on windy days during migration, as the shelter provided by the wall is quite attractive to small migrant passerines.
- Brock, Kenneth J.
- Birds of the Indiana Dunes. Revised Edition.
- The Shirley Heinze Environmental Fund, 1997.
- Brock, Kenneth J.
- “Kirtland’s Warbler: Indiana’s First Fall Record.”
- Indiana Audubon Quarterly 73.1 (1995): 1-2.
Author: Ken Brock
General Information: Christina Y. Hyun at Whiting Public Library
Editors: Darel Heitkamp and Richard Patterson
Photos: Ryan SandersonLocation
Lake County, Indiana
DeLorme Page 18, Grid B-4 (Just northeast of “Whiting”)
GPS: 41º 41′ 48.3″ N
87º 30′ 43.9″ WDirections
From the South: Take I-65 north to I-90 west (the Indiana Toll Road), exit #261. Heading west on I-90, exit north at Calumet Ave/US 41 (exit #5) and proceed north to 119th Street. Turn right (east) on 119th Street and continue until it dead ends into Front Street. Turning left (north) onto Front Street leads directly into Whiting Park.
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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.