Content about birds in Indiana today adapted with permission from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, a partner in the Natural Heritage of Indiana project. More information can be found here.
Extinct Birds of Indiana
The Indiana of today is impoverished when modern populations are compared to the billions of birds that inhabited the state, or passed through it, 200 years ago. Cranes roosted in the marshes in the hundreds of thousands as they migrated to and from the gulf coast. In the spring, shorebirds flocked to the beaches of Lake Michigan in numbers that today can only be seen along the Atlantic coast. Elsewhere, however, were species of birds unexpected, and in unprecedented numbers.
The Carolina Parakeet
The Carolina parakeet was a colorful, noisy bird. It was also the northern most species of parrot on earth, and it lived in great numbers in Indiana. They lived and roosted in large colonies, nesting in hollow trees, and foraged in the nearby forests and fields for seeds and fruits. However numerous the Carolina parakeets, and other species of birds were in Indiana 200 years ago, their population size paled when compared to what was then the most numerous species of bird on earth: The Passenger Pigeon.
The Passenger Pigeon
Similar in appearance to morning doves, passenger pigeons roosted and foraged in forests, much like other birds. But so numerous were they that the sound of millions of beating wings was like that of a waterfall, and as their gargantuan flocks approached, the sun was blotted out. These flocks may have held up to a billion birds and could take hours to pass by.
Birds in Indiana Today
Operation Migration is making special efforts to help the Whooping Crane population in Indiana and eastern North America.
While bird populations have decreased in Indiana since European settlement, the state is still home to many species today. Some of these species are listed below with links to information about their appearance, habitat, distribution, abundance, reproduction, management, and more.
For a more complete listing of birds in the state, see DNR's list of birds you might see in Indiana's State Parks and Resevoirs.