Birdwatching Is Trending

THE FIRST TIME I encountered a tufted titmouse was in Bloomington’s Lower Cascades Park. Its perky string of whistles sounding like Peter! Peter! had me gaping up at the trees. I’d never seen so many different kinds of birds assembled in one place as I did that early-spring afternoon. Walking along, soaking up the twittering, a sense of calm washed over me.

Birdwatching has been growing as a hobby since the pandemic pushed us outside. “Unplugging and being in nature is inherently therapeutic to the human spirit,” says Gina Jannazzo, manager at Wild Birds Unlimited in Castleton. Many of her customers say that a day spent birdwatching left them feeling less anxious. Indeed, an October 2022 study in Scientific Reports revealed that seeing or hearing birds can support mental wellbeing for up to eight hours. Bonus: You’ll get some exercise walking in search of those warblers.

Eagle Creek Park’s Ornithology Center (6515 Delong Rd., 317-327-2473) is a top spot for spying feathered friends from a bluff overlooking a bird sanctuary, where a feeding area and a water feature attract native and migratory birds. Perch yourself in the viewing room or on the adjacent outdoor platform and use the scopes on hand to spot cormorants and gulls. Hint: Watch big rocks, favored resting spots. Or hit the unmarked trail for a 2-mile loop around the sanctuary. American bald eagles can be seen flying year-round. Meanwhile, migrants, like the yellow-throated warbler, yellow-breasted northern parula, ruby-throated hummingbird, and red-shouldered hawk, use the grounds for breeding.