Watching visitors to my bird feeder

Apr. 27—When I fill the sunflower feeder and refill the suet cake dispenser, I take time to sit nearby and watch the birds.

Last week, I was visited by a brown-headed cowbird as I sat quietly by the feeding station. It showed little if any fear of me and came within 6 feet or so as it foraged on sunflower seeds on the concrete slab under the feeder.

In a burst of color, I had a redheaded woodpecker working on the big maple tree next to the house. For some reason, redheaded woodpeckers are seldom seen right in the Moscow area. I've seen them both north and south of town in the river bottoms, but not near town. My gaudy feathered visitor was only the second redheaded woodpecker I've seen around my house in more than five years. The bird's brilliant red head and vibrant black and white bodies and wings give it a very distinct and almost "formal" appearance.

Truly a tiny visitor, I watched a chipping sparrow nibble at sunflower seed scraps and bits of suet. The tiny sparrow isn't much larger than a chickadee and showed no fear as it came within about four feet of me.

Discover the Outdoors Field Trip Grants

Educators interested in taking Kindergarten -12th grade students on field trips to an Indiana State Park in the 2024-2025 school year can receive financial help through the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation (INRF). Grants from the Discover the Outdoors field trip grant program are available for all K-12 educators, regardless of school type.

"The Foundation's mission is to celebrate and preserve Indiana's natural legacy," Jody Kress, INRF executive director, said. "This grant gives children an adventure that showcases some of Indiana's natural and cultural treasures and teaches the importance of protecting and preserving them for everyone to enjoy."

Since the grant program's inception in 2013, a total of 220 grants have been awarded, providing the opportunity for more than 21,000 students to visit state parks at less cost to the schools and students.

Indiana has 24 state parks, eight state-managed lakes, two state recreation areas, and two off-road state recreation areas eligible for field trip funding which will engage students in learning about Indiana's fish, forests, wildlife, natural habitats, conservation, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

"These trips help children understand the significance and diversity of Indiana's natural and cultural resources and at the same time let them make great memories that they will carry into adulthood," Ginger Murphy, deputy director for stewardship for Indiana State Parks, said.

The maximum grant award has increased in 2024 to $500 per application. The grant may cover the school's transportation costs, program fees, and other applicable material costs.

Applications are accepted from May 1 to June 30 prior to the school year for which the grant is requested. Applications must be postmarked or emailed no later than June 30.

Applicants will be notified by Aug. 1 regarding potential grant awards. The grant application is at Read more about the impact the grant has had at A video explaining the program is at

Free Fishing Day May 12

Indiana's first Free Fishing Day of the year is May 12. On Free Fishing Days, Indiana residents do not need a fishing license or a trout/salmon stamp to fish on the state's public waters, so it's the perfect time to bring your family and friends along and have some fun outdoors.

All other rules such as seasons, bag, and size limits apply. Find a fishing location near you by using the "Where To Fish" map at:

New Features At Walter Cline Shooting Range

Thanks to a DNR shooting range grant, the Walter Cline Range in Friendship now features an updated trap shooting facility, including new concrete surfaces for improved access and wheelchair passage, a revitalized multi-station walking woods range, and improved shooter support facilities.

The range also has new restrooms with improved access. Federal Wildlife Restoration dollars helped fund the project, which is owned and operated by the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.

Check out the Walter Cline website for more details and calendar events.

The DNR's shooting range grant program provides funding for shooting range construction and development.

Motus Towers To Track Wildlife Migration

Indiana's DNR recently installed antennas at six Fish & Wildlife areas to broaden the coverage of the Motus Wildlife Tracking network. Motus technology involves small devices which can be fitted to small animals, including insects, bats, and birds, to track their movement.

Dozens of detections have already been picked up by the antennas, including detections of migratory birds like the Swainson's thrush, endangered red knot, and Eastern whip-poor-will. The detections show where and when wildlife wearing the devices have traveled through Indiana.

The project was made possible by funds from the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund.

'till next time,


Contact Aaron Kirchoff at