Have you ever checked out the Wildlife Sanctuary of the South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society? This little section of woods, trails, and prairie amidst houses is open to members with a key and then to the public on special days throughout the year. It is over 30 acres and just outside of Mishawaka. My husband and I went for one of the bird viewings recently.
While the South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society has regular hikes, they often congregate at the Sanctuary in January to watch birds from inside the barn next to the wood heater. There were a couple of the spotting scopes set up, extra binoculars, and many birders!
Typically, someone records the birds observed. We mostly saw feeder birds as they bird feeders were well stocked for the outing. We even saw a towhee, which was a little exciting.
I love the collaboration and sharing of knowledge. People consult bird books and swap stories. A couple of people shared about the great birding trips they have been on within the United States and throughout the world. One lady is almost 80 and has seen like 1800 birds. She has visited Galapagos, Africa, and other places. The organizer of the event has traveled the US and has seen hundreds of birds, too.
They have a neat design to keep both the squirrels (the metal cones on the posts) and the deer (elevated feeders the birds can't reach) away from the bird seed. They can raise and lower the feeders to fill them easily.
I look forward to exploring the sanctuary in more depth in the future.