5 Reasons Why I Continue to Bird Johnson County

But first some…


I was raised in a small town of less than 5000 people but have lived in both Springfield and Champaign-Urbana, IL. Both cities of over one hundred thousand people.  I didn’t particularly like the traffic when I lived there, but except at Christmas around the mall it was bearable.

JC Farm
A rural landscape in Southern Johnson County.

I don’t mind Indianapolis driving, but given the choice I would rather drive in a smaller, rural town. The town where I grew up is no longer a mere 5000 people because Caterpillar exploded and turned it into a large bedroom community for Peoria. So the point is I like a more rural environment. The southern half of Johnson County is rural.

1. Traffic

Johnson County being a more rural area the roads leading to the birding areas have little traffic. Marion County is of course a more urban, metro environment. Which means one has to drive in a more urban environment to get to the parks. So my mindset even getting to the parks is usually skewed because there is a stop sign every mile for several miles, just getting to a park.

MC Road 2
Emerson Avenue, Indianapolis.

If I see a bird while driving in Johnson County, I usually just stop the car in the road or pull over on the shoulder and observe the bird.  In Marion County if I would stop I would create a traffic jam and have numerous cars honking at me.  And don’t even think about pulling over.

Just stop the car and observe – South Mauxferry Road – Johnson County

2. People and Dogs

I can’t get use to birding with a constant parade of people and dogs going by.  Or people on mountain bikes zooming by.  When I bird Johnson County I often don’t see anyone for hours, especially in late fall to early spring.

3. Bird’s Location

I know where the birds are located in Johnson County. I could spend the next year or two birding Marion County and find as many, or probably more, species than I have found in Johnson County. But I already know where the birds are, and the point is to see birds. And more importantly, I know where the different habitats are in Johnson County.

In the 20 months of birding the Atterbury area, I have seen 189 species of birds. Isn’t the eBird Patch Lists great for figuring these things out?

Patch Total

Since I already have a history in Johnson County I will continue to bird there because I know where the birds are located.  And that always leads to an enjoyable outing.

4. All-in-One-Stop-Shopping

Another thing I like about birding Johnson County is the all-in-one-stop-shopping. The only day I get to bird for any length of time is Saturday. So I like to drive less, bird more. The areas in Johnson County that I’ve noted are relatively close together.  So getting from one habitat to another is just a short drive.

Once I started birding Marion County I found I would have to bird in one environment, and then face the traffic to get to the next. I know Eagle Creek Park is a great one stop shop, but then it falls under comment number two, people and dogs.

5. It Feels Natural

And finally the main reason I like to bird Johnson County is that to me it feels more “natural”. The parks in Marion County are more typical urban parks with finely mowed grass and nice paved walking trails. Not really bushwhacking.

Southeastway Park
A nice paved trail in Southeastway Park. That tree line held many warblers the couple of times I visited.

The places I bird in Johnson County – basically Driftwood, Atterbury, Johnson County Park – have few trails and you are left to your own devices.  Which suits my nature – bushwhacking for birds.

Atterbury FWA
An area by Pisgah Lake – Atterbury FWA. Looks like the area has recently been cleared with a bush hog.

This doesn’t mean I won’t bird Marion County.  It just means I will probably spend more time in Johnson County than I originally thought when we moved.

Now if I had been born and raised in a large, metro area, would this post be exactly the opposite?  Something like “Why I will be Birding Marion County”? 

Who knows.

So how has your background contributed to your style of birding?

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