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Gibson Lake and Cane
Ridge Wildlife Area

East Mount Carmel, IN

Spotting Scope Recommended

When to Visit:
January - Most ProductiveFebruary - Most ProductiveMarch - Most ProductiveApril - Most ProductiveMay - Most ProductiveJune - Most ProductiveJuly - Most ProductiveAugust - Most ProductiveSeptember - Most ProductiveOctober - Most ProductiveNovember - Most ProductiveDecember - Most Productive

This is one of the top birding sites in southwest Indiana.  It offers a variety of habitats including a large lake, marshes, and grasslands.

Specialty Species:

Shorebirds:  Check any area containing mudflats for an abundance of shorebirds during the early spring and early fall.

Waterfowl:  Gibson Lake tends to have open water all year due to a warm water outlet on the lake.  Scan the lake for dabbling and diving ducks as well as geese and swans.

Waders:  Check all of the marshes in the area for a chance to see all of the regularly occurring waders in Indiana.

Terns:  This lake is great for terns.  Scan the lake for Common, Forester’s, Caspian, and Black Terns in season.  During the summer months, be sure to keep an eye out for the nesting Least Terns.

Gulls:  During the winter, check the area for gulls.  You can typically get both Ring-billed and Bonaparte’s during the winter, but don’t forget to look for other more rare gulls such as Franklin’s, Laughing, and Herring.

Bell’s Vireo:  Check the fields surrounding the lake for nesting Bell’s Vireo during the summer.

Blue Grosbeak:  Blue Grosbeaks nest in the grasslands surrounding the lakes.

Where to Bird:

County Roads:  Drive the county roads throughout the area looking for the above mentioned species. 

Cane Ridge:  Cane Ridge is home to one of only two nesting colonies for Least Terns in Indiana.  Black-necked Stilts also nest in the area.  This is also a great place to find migrant shorebirds during the spring and fall.

Gibson Lake Wildlife Habitat:  This area is located just north of the lake.  It is accessed via two trails that pass through woodland, grassland, and marsh habitat.  This area can be good for shorebirds in years with a drought when mudflats are exposed.

Start by entering on CR 950 W for SR-64.  When you reach the fork in the road, go left onto CR 975 W.  Continue to follow this road as it curves around and becomes CR 850 W.  After passing the closed Fishing Area, take the next right (west) onto CR 100 S (also known as Skelton Road).  Take the second available left (south) this is CR 1075 W.  This area is Cane Ridge Wildlife Area.  There is an observation tower that is a great place to view the wetlands from.  Take the next right (west) onto CR 250 S.  There is no road sign here.  Take the next right (north) onto CR 1200 W.  Then take a left (west) onto CR 175 S and a right (north) onto CR 1300 W.  Turn right (east) onto CR 100 S.  Take the next unnamed road on the left.  Follow this through the riparian habitat and follow it as it curves to the right.  This road will take you back to SR-64.


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Most birding is done from the car.


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Non-birding Equipment Needed:

Lenght of Visit:

2-3 Hours




From the East:  From the intersection of US-41 and SR-64, take SR-64 West.  After 8.9 miles, turn left (south) onto CR 950 W.  Follow the tour listed above from this point.

From the West:  From the SR-15/SR-64 bridge between Illinois and Indiana, take SR-64 East.  Go 0.55 miles and turn right (south) onto CR 950 W.  Follow the tour listed above from this point.


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Nearby Birding: