6515 Delong Road
Indianapolis, IN 46254
Free with park admission
According to National Geographic, Indianapolis residents don’t need to travel far for excellent birding since Eagle Creek Park is considered a birding hot spot.
Every year, Eagle Creek Park’s Ornithology Center attracts more than 60,000 bird enthusiasts from over 40 U.S. states and 15 countries worldwide!
Nestled just minutes away from downtown Indianapolis, visitors can find birds like bald eagles, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, grebes, loons, and other amazing wildlife right in the city.
Situated nearest to the 71st street entrance, the Ornithology Center sits on top of a bluff overlooking the bird sanctuary to the west – a large area of retained water separated from the reservoir by Coffer Dam. The facility is surrounded by a diverse habitat of deciduous woods, ponds, streams, grassland and wetlands, which makes birding rewarding at any time of year.
Live Birds of Prey
Connect with the natural world by visiting with the resident birds, which are permanently injured and unable to survive in the wild. They have been rehabbed and primarily serve as educational ambassadors for environmental education purposes as they have an impact on how people view wildlife. The public can “Meet a Raptor” up close for free every Wednesday and Friday at 4pm. There are two outdoor viewing enclosures as well that house a red-shouldered and red-tailed hawk, plus another enclosure that rotates residents like the turkey vulture or great horned owl.
Outdoor Migration Game
Follow the flyways of your favorite birds and face some obstacles along the way! The Ornithology Center’s very own Kevin Carlsen designed this interactive educational area right outside of the Ornithology Center to supplement what children learn about migration in the classroom. It’s a great way for families and children to gain a better understanding of the challenges birds face en route to their breeding ground. The self-guided tour navigates by use of ropes, balance beams, climbing walls, and streams – all mimicking hazards birds might experience during their travels.
FREE with Park Admission!
Educational hikes, hands-on classes, a family camping weekend, and that’s just the beginning!
Sunday Morning Birdwalks
Birdwalks are led by members of the Amos W. Butler Audubon Society. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather! Walks take place rain or shine.
Plan your field trip, or schedule an outreach program!View programs offered
On the south end of the building, there is a large observation deck and outdoor bird checklist with a detailed map of the park. Visitors can find out what birds have been spotted in the park, and then learn how to locate them on a map.
Inside of the air-conditioned building, there are displays and several hands-on kiosks to learn more about individual birds, their calls, and migration patterns. There is also an interactive detailed map of the park that shows where the best birding trails are located.
From the back observation room, you can look out over the bird sanctuary where it’s not uncommon to find a wide variety of birds including up to 21 species of ducks on their journey north. From the north observation room, you can watch resident and migratory birds visit the bird feeders and hummingbird garden, and the others that find the water feature for a cool drink or quick bath.
Meet the Naturalists
Ornithology Center Manager
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Kevin’s love for the outdoors began with hiking, camping, swimming, and sports at a very young age. Just 5 minutes away from the ocean and 45 minutes from the mountains, he competed in skiing, bike racing, canoeing and excelled in surfing. He worked as an architectural engineer in Boston, but taught himself carpentry and started his own remodeling company, which allowed him to hike and backpack many national parks. He has hiked the Grand Canyon every year for the past 40+ years, and hopes to make it to 50!
After 30 years in the construction business, he was looking for a change and started working as a part-time naturalist at Eagle Creek Park in 1999. In 2007, he designed and built the Ornithology Center, and in 2009 won the Indianapolis Power & Light Co. “Golden Eagle Environmentalist of the Year” award. He enjoys teaching wildlife photography in his spare time.
A Greenwood native, Jenna has been visiting Eagle Creek Park her entire life, and even job shadowed here in 9th grade. Her parents were scientists so she’s had a deep love for nature instilled in her from a very young age. In 2015, she earned her Masters of Science in Environmental Science from Indiana University, which encompasses ecology, wildlife management, and conservation.
Since high school, Jenna has been an avid birder and loves being able to share with, and learn from park visitors, volunteers, and her colleagues at the Ornithology Center. She also loves being able to work with and take care of the wild raptors at the center. Her secret passion has always been wildlife care and rehabilitation, and she is glad to discover that she is not allergic to birds!
She loves working with children as she’s always believed that environmental education is essential, and is happy that she can promote it in her daily life. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano, singing, painting, and traveling.
Mallory’s bio will be posted soon!
History & Evolution
The original building served as the private library of J.K. Lilly, and then transitioned into Eagle Creek Park’s Nature Center for 30 years. In 2010, it reopened as the Ornithology Center to focus primarily on birds and birdwatching.The Foundation funded all of the equipment, materials, and taxidermy used for the renovation. That same year, the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association recognized the Ornithology Center as an “Outstanding Facility” for notable buildings and recreation complexes completed that year (costing less than $250,000).
Part of the building revival included developing an 800-square-foot exhibit hall to feature four distinct habitats (forest, grassland, pond, and wetland), which displays approximately 100 taxidermy birds in their natural settings complete with tranquil sounds of nature. The birds showcased are native to Indiana and for the most part, can all be seen in the park.
Since then, around 3,000 students study the beauty and behavior of birds every year through live bird of prey programs at schools, or during field trips to the Ornithology Center. In addition, 150+ public programs are offered throughout the year as well. A new bird game was introduced recently by the Ornithology Center’s very own Kevin Carlsen, right in front of the facility.
Indiana Birding Quick Links
Special thanks to other Ornithology Center donors: Amos Butler Audubon, Nature Sanctuary & Center Inc, Wild Birds Unlimited and Nina Mason Pulliam
Eagle Creek Park Breeding Bird Study
Take I-65 south to the northwest side of Indianapolis, and exit west onto 71st Street at Exit 124. Heading west on 71st Street leads directly to the north gate of the park. Once inside the park, 71st Street becomes Eagle Creek Parkway, the main north/south road that runs between the north gate (at 71st Street) and south gate (at 56th Street). Look for the Ornithology Center sign.
Take I-70 west into downtown Indianapolis. Exit onto I-65 north at Exit 112. Take I-65 north to the 71st Street exit (Exit 124). Heading west on 71st Street leads directly to the north gate of the park.
Take I-70 east to I-465 north (Exit 9). Continuing north on I-465, exit north onto I-65 at Exit 20. Exit west onto 71st Street at Exit 124 and continue into the park.