The Ornithology Center offers environmental education programming for all ages that focuses on birds (identification, adaptations, ecology and conservation), giving students the chance to learn about the diversity of their native birds at one of the best birdwatching locations in all of Indiana. Programs can include both indoor and outdoor experiences and also fulfill multiple academic standards. See below for specific topics.
You are welcome to bring your group for a walk-through visit to view the Ornithology Center exhibits and birdwatching areas without scheduling a program (free with regular park admission $5/car, $15/bus); however, the Ornithology Center is not a large facility, and if a large group is already scheduled for a program you may not be able to visit the building while the other group is there. Please call in advance if you are interested in bringing a large group (more than 20 students) to visit at 327-BIRD (2473). Most large school programs take place between 10am-2pm weekdays.
Scheduling for spring/summer field trips
When you call, please have the following information handy:
Program cost is $4/student for a group of 30 students or less and a single program topic; there is no charge for teachers or adult helpers (we ask for at least one adult per 10 students). For groups wishing to cover more than one topic, or those with over 30 students at a time that may need to be subdivided into two or more programs, the fee is $5/student. Discounted rates are available to schools with 40% or more of students on free or reduced lunch.
Payment may be made on the day of the program by cash, check made out to Indy Parks, or Mastercard or VISA, or schools may also pay by purchase order. Program fee includes admission into Eagle Creek Park, viewing of Ornithology Center exhibits, and use of Shelter H and playground (please schedule picnic area at time of registration).
The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS) has a fund available to provide financial assistance to student and youth groups for field trips to nature sites. The money is intended to help with transportation costs and/or naturalist fees where no funds exist, as well as promote youth initiated projects/activities that connect kids with nature. The fund is available for any Indiana school/youth group, application is online and can be done at anytime, and response is generally within two weeks. INPAWS is especially interested in providing youth with the least access to the natural world this opportunity. To find out more or to apply, please visit the INPAWS website at http://www.inpaws.org/Letha's_Youth_Outdoors_Fund.html
Please notify us as soon as possible if you need to cancel your program or would like to try to reschedule for a different date. Programs cancelled with less than one week notice for reasons other than inclement weather, or no-show groups (groups that do not call or otherwise notify us of the cancellation) may be charged up to one half their estimated program fee.
We generally only cancel programs if there is thunder and lightening or other dangerous weather conditions. We can still go outside in cold and rain as long as the students are prepared. Please encourage and remind your students to dress for the weather, especially if your field trip has an outdoor birdwatching hike as part of the program. Because the Ornithology Center is situated over a large bluff near the reservoir, it can be quite a bit colder and windier compared to conditions in town - when in doubt, dress warm!
Depending on staff availability and group size we may be able to provide an indoor-only program if weather conditions are uncomfortable outdoors, or we can try to find an alternate date to reschedule (please be aware this may be difficult to do in spring and fall).
The Ornithology Center classroom can accomodate a maximum of approximately 30 students at a time. Groups of 60 students can be divided into indoor and outdoor sessions, and larger groups may be possible depending on staff availability.
We recommend scheduling your program so that your students eat lunch near their regular time. Field trips can work up an appetite, and hungry students can have difficulty focusing on their program topic!
Shelter H is reserved for groups that have registered programs at the Ornithology Center and is a short bus ride or an approximately 15 minute hike from the Ornithology Center. Shelter H has a covered picnic shelter and tables, a playground within short walking distance, and flush toilets and sinks (you may wish to bring your own soap for handwashing). Shelter restrooms are shut down for the winter in early November.
Eagle Creek Park does not have indoor eating facilities, however, at the discretion of the Ornithology Center staff, groups of less than 30 students may be able to eat in the classroom during inclement weather under the following conditions:
What Makes a Bird a Bird: (Pre-K – 1st)
How do you know a bird is a bird? What do birds have that other animals don't? Students will learn the basic characteristics of birds and go on a short hike to find birds in trees, the sky, on the water, and/or at the feeders.
Beginning Bird ID: (K & up)
Have you ever wondered what bird is in the sky, in the tree, or even your own backyard? Learn how to identify birds by shape, color, size, habitat, sound, and more! Students will go on a hike to learn how to use binoculars and what to look for or hear to help identify birds.
Bird Habitats and Nests: (1st & up)
Where do birds live and why? Students will learn what makes a habitat, different nests that birds make and/or use, and what birds are found in what habitats and why. Students will go on a hike and learn how to use binoculars, look for nests, and look for birds in the many habitats within the park.
Beaks and Feet, Bird Adaptations: (1st & up)
Why do some birds have a long, pointed beak while others have a tiny, curved beak? Can an eagle swin with sharp curved talons or a duck catch its food with its webbed feet? While on a hike, students will learn how bird beaks and feet are used like tools to help them thrive and survive.
Whooo Goes There??? (3rd – 5th)
Is it scat or regurgitation? Students will learn all about owls, their behaviors, adaptations, and more. They will dissect owl pellets and investigate what owls eat to understand how scientists learn more about them. Note: 1 pellet per 2 students.
Flight & Migration (3rd – 5th)
Why do some birds go south for the winter? How far does a hummingbird migrate? When do Sandhill Cranes fly over? Students will learn the migration paths and why birds fly the way they do. They will also go on a hike to find birds and discover why some birds migrate and some do not.
Birds of Prey (pre-k & up)
Have you ever glared at a hawk up close or hooted like an owl? Students will meet several resident permanently injured birds of prey up close while learning about their individual behaviors, eating habits, conservation, and more.
Outreach (brought to your school/facility) available for Birds of Prey program. Please contact 317-327-2473 for more information.