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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

(My favorite photos are highlighted.)

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


American Avocet, Long Lake NWR.

American Bittern, Long Lake NWR.

Red-winged Blackbird (male), Long Lake NWR.

Red-winged Blackbird (female), Long Lake NWR.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (male), Long Lake NWR.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (female), Long Lake NWR.

Bobolink, Long Lake NWR.

American Coot, Long Lake NWR.

Double-crested Cormorant peeking from behind a rock, Long Lake NWR.

Brown-headed Cowbird (male), Long Lake NWR.

Brown-headed Cowbird (female), Long Lake NWR.

Mourning Dove, Long Lake NWR.

Ruddy Ducks (and Western Grebes behind), Long Lake NWR.

A pair of Gadwall, Long Lake NWR.

Marbled Godwit, Long Lake NWR.

Canada Goose, Long Lake NWR.

Northern Goshawk (?), Long Lake NWR.

Common Grackle, Long Lake NWR.

Eared Grebe, Long Lake NWR.

Western Grebe checking out his reflection, Long Lake NWR.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, Long Lake NWR.

Gull of some sort, Long Lake NWR.

Franklin's (?) Gull, Long Lake NWR.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Long Lake NWR.

Killdeer, Long Lake NWR.

Eastern Kingbird, Long Lake NWR.

Western Kingbird, Long Lake NWR.

Horned Lark doing its characteristic aerial dance, Long Lake NWR.

A pair of Mallards, Long Lake NWR.

A pair of Purple Martins, Long Lake NWR.

Western Meadowlark, Long Lake NWR.

Orchard Oriole, Long Lake NWR.

Short-eared Owl, Long Lake NWR.

American White Pelican, Long Lake NWR.

Wilson's Phalarope, Long Lake NWR.

Ring-necked Pheasant, Long Lake NWR.

Northern Pintail, Long Lake NWR.

Sprague's Pipit, Long Lake NWR.

Redhead (?), Long Lake NWR.

American Robin, Long Lake NWR.

Sanderling (?), Long Lake NWR.

Semipalmated (?) Sandpiper (these small peeps are so difficult to distinguish!), Long Lake NWR.

White-rumped Sandpiper, Long Lake NWR.

Lesser (or Greater?) Scaup, Long Lake NWR.

Northern Shoveler (male), Long Lake NWR.

Northern Shoveler (female), Long Lake NWR.

Clay-colored Sparrow, Long Lake NWR.

Grasshopper Sparrow, Long Lake NWR.

House Sparrow, Long Lake NWR.

Savannah (?) Sparrow, Long Lake NWR.

Song Sparrow, Long Lake NWR.

Barn Swallow, Long Lake NWR.

Cliff Swallows on grass, Long Lake NWR.

Tree Swallow, Long Lake NWR.

Blue-winged Teal, Long Lake NWR.

Black Terns, Long Lake NWR.

Common Tern (some gray on body), Long Lake NWR.

Forster's Tern (has an all-white body, while Common Tern tends to be more gray), Long Lake NWR.

Yellow Warbler, Long Lake NWR.

Willet, Long Lake NWR.

Marsh Wren, Long Lake NWR.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park


Mountain Bluebird, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Lazuli Bunting (male), Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Lazuli Bunting (female), Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Yellow-breasted Chat doing its characteristic woofing call, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

A pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

American Crow, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Rock Dove, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

A Golden Eagle soaring high above, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Northern Flicker, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

American Goldfinch, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Common Grackle, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Black-headed Grosbeak (female), Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Northern Harrier, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

American Kestrel, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Eastern Kingbird, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Black-billed Magpie, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Western Meadowlark, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Baltimore Oriole, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Bullock's Oriole, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

American Robin, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

A pair of mating Chipping Sparrows, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Field Sparrow, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Savannah (?) Sparrow, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

European Starling, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Brown Thrasher, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Spotted Towhee, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Yellow Warbler, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Downy Woodpecker, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

House Wren, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Common Yellowthroat, Theodore Roosevelt NP.
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