BY BARB BERGGOETZ
David Rupp is at home in the woods and knows where and when to spot birds of all types. He started IndiGo Birding Nature Tours in 2014 to share his expertise with anyone interested in following him.
“In Indiana, we have a lot of areas for bird watching that people don’t know about,” Rupp says. “I’m trying to expose people to the beauty of Indiana. It’s fun to share that enthusiasm with others.”
Rupp says his tours appeal to people who have an interest in the outdoors and learning about birds, as well experienced birders. “I consider myself as much of an educator as a guide,” says Rupp. He’s been birding for 20 years and was formerly a naturalist with the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources before starting his own business.
“What I wanted to do is control my schedule, work for myself, and do something I love,” says Rupp, a former volunteer president of the Sassafras Audubon Society. He takes groups, typically of five or fewer, on personalized tours to fit their schedules. He provides binoculars, spotting scopes, refreshments, and transportation. “I’m as focused on the customers as I am on the birds,” says Rupp, who has a master’s degree in environmental science.
A popular destination is Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, home to about 300 varieties of birds. On other tours he takes birders to Yellowwood State Forest, Lake Monroe, and Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. In the fall, tours visit sites in Brown County so people can enjoy the fall foliage and Rupp can talk about the county’s history. Private tours usually take a half-day and require a mile or so of walking.
Rupp’s birding activities are vast and varied. He offers public tours (listed on his website), visits private homes to help folks identify and attract birds to their own properties, teaches a basic birding class at Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington, and runs weeklong sessions of IndiGo Birding Nature Day Camp for children ages 8–14 on a 60-acre property owned by the Mt. Gilead Friends Retreat, northeast of Bloomington.
For more information or to sign up for a tour, visit indigobirding.com.