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259. Goose Pond Fish And Wildlife Area, Linton, Indiana

Wetlands and prairies southwest of Bloomington that attract waterfowl, cranes, bitterns, and many other species.
By David Rupp | Published: 6/19/2017

Throughout the year, Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area never disappoints. I look back at the many times I’ve birded the area, and the memories are too numerous to recount, but here are a few: sorting through all the shorebirds to find a Curlew Sandpiper in May 2012; having both a White-faced Ibis and a Marbled Godwit in the same scope view last fall; and gathering with other birders from around the country to admire a wayward Hooded Crane among the thousands of Sandhills in February 2012. And earlier this year a Prairie Falcon was kind enough to circle above me.

Even without the rarities, Goose Pond offers more than 8,000 acres for birders to explore. It provides breeding habitat for Black-necked Stilt, Least Tern, Henslow’s Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, and more. I participate in the Marshbird Monitoring Survey, listening for rails and bitterns at dawn several times each spring. During migration, I don’t think anything beats the sight of American White Pelicans soaring in a clear blue sky. In winter, I love watching Short-eared Owls hunt at dusk. The Goose Pond Christmas Bird Count is one of the best in the state each year, regularly surpassing 100 species. — David Rupp

David Rupp owns IndiGo Birding Nature Tours, based in Bloomington, and he has worked in environmental education and wildlife biology.

259. Goose Pond Fish And Wildlife Area, Linton, Indiana

Directions

Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area protects more than 8,000 acres of prairies and marshes between Terre Haute, Vincennes, and Bloomington, Indiana. From the north, drive south on State Rd. 59 to Linton. Continue south of Linton on SR 59 for 5.5 miles. Turn right on Cty. Rd. 400 S and go half a mile to the visitor center.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
38°58’10.58″N 87°11’58.58″W

Habitat

Nearly 5,000 acres of shallow wetlands and 1,300 acres of prairie grasslands.

Terrain

Mostly flat; 37 miles of levees, some of which can be hiked. Area can be birded from a vehicle. Stop at numerous small parking areas and walk up on levees for a better view.

Birds

280 species. Breeding: Northern Bobwhite, American Bittern, Bald Eagle, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, Least Tern, Willow Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, swallows, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Grasshopper, Henslow’s, and Field Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark, Orchard Oriole. Migration: Trumpeter Swan, many duck, shorebird, and wading bird species, American White Pelican, Sandhill Crane, Bobolink, Rusty Blackbird. Winter: Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Whooping Crane, Short-eared Owl, several sparrow species.

When to go

Year-round. Crane migration best in February.

Amenities

Visitor center (13540 W. CR 400 S) open 8-3 most days and offers restrooms that can be accessed from the parking lot.

Access

State fish and wildlife area. Admission free. Never closed. Visitors required to carry a permit while on the property. Permits available at the visitor center and at check-in stations.

Tips

Hunting allowed, so be aware and wear hunter’s orange during appropriate seasons. Because of the open landscape, conditions can be more extreme than anticipated: colder, hotter, windier, or buggier, depending on the season. Bring a spotting scope if you have one.

For more info

Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, (812) 512-9185.

Sites nearby

Greene-Sullivan State Forest
Immediately west of Goose Pond. Offers fishing, camping, and birding in a mixed coniferous/deciduous forest. Good for warblers and other songbirds in the spring.

Hillenbrand Fish and Wildlife Area
Five miles north of Linton. 3,400 acres of mostly reclaimed surface-mine land. Summer: Bell’s Vireo, Henslow’s Sparrow, and Blue Grosbeak. Winter: Northern Harrier and other raptors.

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