Sunday, February 19, 2017



Date: February 17-20

Observe birds and report your findings. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a free, fun, and easy way to engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird population.
Stay at Songbird Prairie Inn and Spa “Best in Indiana” after you walk the Indiana Dunes. 

Friday, February 17, 2017


Date: Friday, February 17
Time: 10:00 a.m. (CT)
Venue: Taltree Arboretum & Gardens
Address: 450 W. 100 North, Valparaiso, IN 46385-9231
Phone: 219-462-0025
Admission: $15 non-members; $10 members
Observe birds on Taltree's property and report your findings. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird population.
Stay at Songbird Prairie Inn and Spa “Best in Indiana” after your walk at Taltree just 2 miles away songbirdprairie.comBool Now

Thursday, February 16, 2017



Dates: February 16 - November 16, 2017
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Craft House
Address: 711 Plaza Dr., Chesterton, IN 46304
Phone: 219-395-1882
Admission: Free admission


It's time for meeting new birders, learning about new birding spots, and more. Birds and Brews will take place each month at the Craft House in Chesterton. Mark your calendar and join in. The venue is kid friendly. 
Then stay at Songbird Prairie Inn and Spa with 6 1/2 acres of woodlands and prairie which adjoins to 450 acres reserve at BOOK NOW

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Feb 15, 2017 Saw a robin in a tree this morning eating some berries
but may not necessarily be a sign of spring.
ASHLAND (AP) - Much like Punxsutawney Phil and his fellow groundhogs, sightings of the American robin are considered by many to be a sign that spring either is here or soon will be.

Or is it?

Recently, a couple friends and I heard and spotted several of the orange-and-black feathered friends - the state bird of Wisconsin, Michigan and Connecticut - on the west side of Ashland. During a newsroom discussion of the sighting, fellow Daily Press reporter Rick Olivo said he, too, saw several robins during a trip to Madison last month. The environmental reporter in me immediately wondered whether evidence of global climate change could now be seen outside my window: "I shouldn't be seeing these birds for at least two or three more weeks," I thought.

As it turns out, some of the birds choose not to live up to the second half of their species name, Turdus migratorius. Instead, they opted to stick around northern Wisconsin and tough out the winter like the rest of us - with the exception of the so-called human "snow birds," of course.

"There's almost certainly some physiological threshold that they can't compete with, but for the most part it's food-driven with that kind of bird," said Ryan Brady, a research scientist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Ashland office. "It's kind of the same with ducks: They only go as far as they have to for open water, because that's where they get their food."

Steve Lewis of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Division of Migratory Birds in Minneapolis said some robins in northern Wisconsin might have come south from Canada, "but they're not birds that are coming back early from their wintering areas."

Some may wonder how a bird weighing under 3 ounces can survive in a climate that can drop below zero degrees without warning.

For robins and other winter birds, it's simply a matter of sprouting a few more down feathers for extra insulation and finding a steady source of food. Frozen ground means no worms and frozen air inhibits crowds of insects, so robins and other birds like cedar waxwings will seek out fruit from crabapple trees and other berries still hanging on branches.

If they can keep their stomachs full, they see no reason to leave, said Dick Verch, a retired DNR employee who organizes the annual Christmas bird count for the Chequamegon Audubon Society.

"If you look at a lot of the fruiting trees - mountain ash and others - they still have fruit on them, and very often at this time of the year they've been stripped by birds," Verch said. "That's an indication there's a good quantity of food, so maybe as the birds went into the winter with a lot of food around them, it kept them here."

Verch said participants in the 2008 count spotted 76 robins - 56 more than the previous record of 20, set in 2004.

If you've never seen a robin in January, you're not alone. Jim Paruk, associate professor of biology at Northland College, said those who do notice them are typically "intense birders" who know where to look, such as ravines and gullies that offer birds shelter from the elements and from predators like hawks and cats.

"The average Joe, yeah, you don't see robins in the winter," Paruk said. "They are here, but they're not obvious, they're not perched out in the open. They're typically trying to survive a pretty stressful time."

Lewis said while the presence of robins in the winter is not "earth-shaking," nevertheless it is an "interesting phenomenon."

He and the other avian experts said the presence of a few robins or waxwings does not mean the impacts of climate change are being felt just yet. But Lewis said those impacts could soon be manifest in unknown ways.

"We're going to see a lot of interesting things in the next 20 years with bird distribution," he said.

Paruk said in the world of science, one year of evidence is tantamount to a fluke.

Added Brady: "In the long run, could it mean we have more robins that winter farther north? Potentially, but you can say that about anything at this point."

As far as the robins are concerned, though, it appears northern Wisconsin is not the only hot spot for the winter. Lewis said he's seen a number of reports in the Twin Cities about increasing numbers of robins that spend their winter in the big cities.

"I think people are starting to accept it as almost routine," he said.

Hearing a robin sing, however, is a bit more out of the ordinary.

Singing among birds is triggered by hormonal changes that are brought about by increasing hours of daylight. Since temperatures can fluctuate from year to year, evolution has taught the birds to depend more on sunlight as a sign of spring, Paruk said.

If you hear a robin singing in February, or even the call of the northern shrike, chances are they're just warming up their vocal chords, since the male birds sing to both attract a mate and to claim their territory, Paruk said.

"That saves energy for everybody," he said. "'This is my territory, that's yours;  

Friday, February 10, 2017


     Stay at Songbird Prairie and see VU Dance Ensemble  book now

Dates: February 09 - February 12, 2017
Time: Thurs. & Fri. 8:00 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 2:00 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Valparaiso University Center for the Arts
Address: 1709 Chapel Dr., Valparaiso, IN 46383
Phone: 219-464-5162
Admission: $15 adults; $10 senior citizens and non VU students; VU students free


Ann Kessler, professor of theatre, and visiting theatre instructor Salena Elish will direct faculty and student choreographers and performers from across campus to present a variety of dance styles with creative and original costume design, lighting and music.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Fun in the Dunes. Top 10 Events!

By  on February 1, 2017
Wow! February is already here. Can you believe it? We have to admit, it was a slow January — not much going around here — but things are starting to pick up and we have listed some of our favorite events to check out this month. Here we go!
  • February 4: Crazy Legs 5k Trail Run, Creek Ridge County Park, Michigan City – See how those “get healthy” resolutions are coming along and head out to Creek Ridge County Park for some outdoor fun. The 5k will be two loops around Creek Ridge County Park and part of the proceeds will benefit CPR Care Packages for the homeless. Online sign-ups here.
  • February 5: Poetry Without Words Art Exhibit, Chesterton Art Center – Opening reception for Poetry Without Words, an exhibit of 2D and 3D artwork by members of the Area Artists Association. Stop in at Red Cup for some coffee or Running Vines for some wine before or after!
  • February 9: Drunk on Love Wine Dinner, Lucrezia Ristorante, Crown Point – Head to one of the best Italian restaurants around for a delicious wine dinner! This five course meal paired with wine will certainly make you happy. Call Bob at 661-5829 for reservations.
  • February 10: Gong Bath, Sacred Dunes Alternative Health, Michigan City – Experience healing sounds and vibrations. Initiate a deep relaxing meditative state of mind during this unique experience. Wear comfortable clothes. Please RSVP by calling the studio at 219.262.2670.
  • February 16: Intro Class to Photo Editing, Save the Dunes, Michigan City – Join instructor Stephen Lehman and learn the basics of Adobe Lightroom. Even if you have a different editing program, the basics of this class will carry over to other programs and apps. Tickets available here. Stephen taught the very popular sunset photography classes!
  • February 16: Frog Monitoring Workshop, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Valparaiso – one of two free workshops in February where you can learn how to help monitor the health of local wetlands by monitoring frog populations. Workshop led by Alan Resetar, Amphibian and Reptile Collections Manager at The Field Museum.
  • February 17: Hotel Blotto – Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Best Western, LaPorte – The very popular band, Mr. Blotto, gets together with a bunch of other bands for their annual hotel weekend bash!
  • February 18: Shelf Ice Brewfest, Michigan City – The third annual Brew Fest features over 30 breweries, food trucks, entertainment and shelfies! Tickets can be purchased here. Looking to make a weekend out of this event? 
  • February 23: A Night of Jazz and Wine, Shady Creek Winery, Michigan City – featuring David Lahm on piano and Steve and Mary E., on guitar and vocals to create a sound that embraces jazz standards, blues, pop all with a whole new vibe. Tickets available here.
  • February 26: Sunday Afternoon Wire Wrapping, 100 Washington, Michigan City – Join Jayde as she teaches you how to wrap beach glass or stones. Jayde is well known in the community for her beautiful jewelry. This class is almost sold out. Tickets available here.
                                                     Stay at Songbird Prairie    Book your weekend stay now

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Eat Up Wine Down 1st Thursday Stay at Songbird Prairie 219-759-4274
February 2, 2017
Times: 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Organization: Valparaiso Events

Location: Central Park Plaza, Valparaiso, IN 46383

Contact Phone: 219-464-8332

Description: Don't miss a great opportunity to visit one or several of Downtown Valparaiso's favorite restaurants. The Valpo Downtown Dining Group tempts your palate with $6 food and drink specials on the 1st Thursday of every month.