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Stop 7 - North Dakota : LONG LAKE NWR, THEODORE ROOSEVELT NP

The following page is devoted to my roadtrip photos of birds from a couple of locations in North Dakota. Clearly, I did not photograph every kind of bird that can be found in North Dakota, but I have provided a selection of some of my favorite photos of the birds I did happen to see as I passed through.

Birds I saw in North Dakota

May 29 - June 1, 2008

From the Warblerville around the Great Lakes, I headed west towards home. But I still had a number of birding stops on my itinerary, one of which was North Dakota. North Dakota is a little-known but great birding local, as it is representative of where east meets west in the Great Plains, and thus hosts a wide variety of both eastern and western species. I spent a couple of days each at Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge in south-central North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the west end of the state.

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge is set in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region, where the open ranges, grassy fields, marshes, and lakes area home to several species of nesting ducks, shorebirds, raptors, and grassland songbirds. I chased the birds around for a couple of mornings (when bird activity was a constant serenade of clucks, whistles, songs, and cheeps), mostly driving around the Refuge roads and photographing birds out of my window. There were birds everywhere: grebes and teals in the lake, pelicans and terns in the sky, sandpipers and willets on the shore, blackbirds and wrens in the marshes, and meadowlarks, sparrows, and bobolinks in the surrounding grasslands. I saw a number of birds I saw no where else on my travels, such as the Marbled Godwit, Northern Goshawk, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Horned Lark, Short-eared Owl, Sprague's Pipit, White-rumped Sandpiper, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

While Long Lake and the surrounding area has an eastern plains feel, just 120 miles further west along I-94, Theodore Roosevelt National Park feels like the wild west. This park is located in the heart of the dry rolling mountains of the Badlands. I spent a full day in the more remote north unit of the park, where Lazuli Buntings, Yellow-breasted Chats, Common Yellowthroats, Spotted Towhees, and Mountain Bluebirds abounded. I also hiked to the Prairie Dog Town, in hopes of finding a Burrowing Owl; although I did not spot an owl, I enjoyed the cute Prairie Dogs. I would have liked to spend another day in the park, but unfortunately thundershowers and new headlights for my car drove me westward towards my next birding stop.

(Overall, I was a bit disappointed with my photos from North Dakota. While I had a few good ones - the Western Meadowlark, Western Grebe, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Marsh Wren to name some of my favorites, which I have highlighted below - I felt that many of my photos were simply "checklist" shots. Perhaps this was somewhat related to my experience hitting a deer at 60mph while driving into North Dakota, but that's another story… )

The two areas I went to had noticeably different bird populations, so I grouped the birds from each location separately below.

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

AVOCET:
    American
BITTERN:
    American
BLACKBIRD:
    Red-winged
    Yellow-headed
BOBOLINK
COOT:
    American
CORMORANT:
    Double-crested
COWBIRD:
    Brown-headed
DOVE:
    Mourning
DUCK:
    Ruddy
GADWALL
GODWIT:
    Marbled
GOOSE:
    Canada
GOSHAWK:
    Northern

GRACKLE:
    Common
GREBE:
    Eared
    Western
GROUSE:
    Sharp-tailed
GULL:
    Franklin's ?
    Some kind
HERON:
    Black-crowned Night
KILLDEER
KINGBIRD:
    Eastern
    Western
LARK:
    Horned
MALLARD
MARTIN:
    Purple
MEADOWLARK:
    Western

ORIOLE:
    Orchard
OWL:
    Short-eared
PELICAN:
    American White
PHALAROPE:
    Wilson's
PHEASANT:
    Ring-necked
PINTAIL:
    Northern
PIPIT:
    Sprague's
REDHEAD
ROBIN:
    American
SANDERLING
SANDPIPER:
    Semipalmated ?
    White-rumped
SCAUP:
    Lesser ?

SHOVELER:
    Northern
SPARROW:
    Clay-colored
    Grasshopper
    House
    Savannah ?
    Song
SWALLOW:
    Barn
    Cliff
    Tree
TEAL:
    Blue-winged
TERN:
    Black
    Common ?
    Forster's ?
WARBLER:
    Yellow
WILLET
WREN:
    Marsh

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

BLUEBIRD:
    Mountain
BUNTING:
    Lazuli
CHAT:
    Yellow-breasted
COWBIRD:
    Brown-headed
CROW:
    American
DOVE:
    Rock
EAGLE:
    Golden

FLICKER:
    Northern
GOLDFINCH:
    American
GRACKLE:
    Common
GROSBEAK:
    Black-headed
HARRIER:
    Norther
KESTREL:
    American
KINGBIRD:
    Eastern

MAGPIE:
    Black-billed
MEADOWLARK:
    Western
ORIOLE:
    Baltimore
    Bullock's
ROBIN:
    American
SPARROW:
    Chipping
    Field
    Savannah ?

STARLING:
    European
THRASHER:
    Brown
TOWHEE:
    Spotted
WARBLER:
    Yellow
WOODPECKER:
    Downy
WREN:
    House
YELLOWTHROAT:
    Common

KEY:      favorite photos      SONGBIRDS  WATERBIRDS  RAPTORS & OWLS/NEAR PASSERINES  HUMMINGBIRDS & WOODPECKERS

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


American AVOCET

American BITTERN


Red-winged BLACKBIRD (male)

Red-winged BLACKBIRD (female)

Yellow-headed BLACKBIRD (male)

Yellow-headed BLACKBIRD (female)

BOBOLINK

American COOT

Double-crested CORMORANT
peeking from behind a rock

Brown-headed COWBIRD (male)

Brown-headed COWBIRD (female)

Mourning DOVE

Ruddy DUCKS and Western GREBES (behind)

GADWALL

Marbled GODWIT

Canada GOOSE

Northern GOSHAWK (?)

Common GRACKLE

Eared GREBE

Western GREBE 
checking out his reflection

Sharp-tailed GROUSE

GULL of some sort

Franklin's (?) GULL

Black-crowned Night-HERON

KILLDEER

Eastern KINGBIRD

Western KINGBIRD

Horned LARK
doing its characteristic aerial dance

MALLARDS (male and female)

Purple MARTINS

Western MEADOWLARK

Orchard ORIOLE

Short-eared OWL

American White PELICAN

Wilson's PHALAROPE

Ring-necked PHEASANT

Northern PINTAIL

Sprague's PIPIT

REDHEAD (?)

American ROBIN

SANDERLING (?)

Semipalmated** (?) SANDPIPER
**these small peeps are so difficult to distinguish!

White-rumped SANDPIPER

Lesser (or Greater?) SCAUP

Northern SHOVELER (male)

Northern SHOVELER (female)

Clay-colored SPARROW

Grasshopper SPARROW

House SPARROW

Savannah (?) SPARROW

Song SPARROW

Barn SWALLOW

Cliff SWALLOWS

Tree SWALLOW

Blue-winged TEAL

Black TERNS

Common** TERN
**some gray on body

Forster's** TERN 
**has an all-white body, while Common Tern tends to be more gray

Yellow WARBLER

WILLET

Marsh WREN

Theodore Roosevelt National Park


Mountain BLUEBIRD

Lazuli BUNTING (male)

Lazuli BUNTING (female)

Yellow-breasted CHAT
doing its characteristic woofing call

Brown-headed COWBIRDS

American CROW

Rock DOVE

Golden EAGLE
soaring high above

Northern FLICKER

American GOLDFINCH

Common GRACKLE

Black-headed GROSBEAK (female)

Northern HARRIER

American KESTREL

Eastern KINGBIRD

Black-billed MAGPIE

Western MEADOWLARK

Baltimore ORIOLE

Bullock's ORIOLE

American ROBIN

Chipping SPARROWS (male and female)
mating

Field SPARROW

Savannah (?) SPARROW

European STARLING

Brown THRASHER

Spotted TOWHEE

Yellow WARBLER

Downy WOODPECKER

House WREN

Common YELLOWTHROAT
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