State of North Dakota

Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta ©USFWS Mountain-Prairie Website
Birding North Dakota

Experience North Dakota BirdingNeotropical migratory birds (lots of sparrows including Baird’s, sharp-tailed and LeConte’s); waterfowl, hawks, burrowing owls, Sprague’s pipits, gray partridge, and more are found here. Knowing bird songs and habitat enables you spend quality time birding. The beautiful prairie pothole region of ND, with the badlands on the extreme western edge and the mixed grass prairie on the eastern edge with wooded draws and river valleys offers varied habitat to an abundance of birds. Visitors birders traveling to the state of ND find it a worthwhile destination. A rare habitat, the tall grass prairie, is also in the SE region of the state.

Long summer daylight hours – Long days and short nights in the summer (5 AM to 9:45 PM) make it possible to get the most out of a day. Prairie sparrows often sing into the early afternoon and are at their best when exhibiting breeding behavior.

Ecotourism – Birding and ecotourism opportunities await you in North Dakota. Photo opportunities and wildlife viewing are both rewarding pursuits. Whether you have four hours or four days, it’s worth a look!

Scenic North Dakota; Birding Hot Spot! – Lewis & Clark were impressed with North Dakota, it’s culture and beauty. Now, little traffic, expansive landscapes, farming and ranching, scattered towns and friendly people make North Dakota a prime destination for good old-fashioned relaxation. With maps helping you get around the back roads of the state, birdwatchers can manoeuver the state easily. Birds, Butterflies, Scenery, Wildflowers, butterflies, clean air and wide open spaces. Buffalo, antelope, meadowlarks and prairie dogs make this their home. Sunrises and sunsets that will take your breath away. Time and places so beautiful, so special, words cannot describe.

Variety of Birds – 347 species of birds travel through North Dakota, depending on the season. It is possible to see 100 species in a day.

Eastern and mid North Dakota: The Sheyenne River Valley includes national grasslands with native prairie remnants of mixed and tall grass prairie and oak savanna river riparian areas. This area is part of the state’s Scenic Byway and Backway and North Country Trail. Prairie pothole country. Pembina Gorge area, along the Red River in the extreme northeastern corner of the state is plumb bursting with birding, warbling and outdoor opportunities.

Target species for prairie pothole and tall grass prairie region: Baird’s, sharp-tailed, LeConte’s, grasshopper, savannah, vesper, Henslow’s sparrows, Say’s phoebe, abundant ducks, waterfowl, horned larks, sedge and marsh wrens, gray catbird, brown thrasher, chipping, grasshopper and clay colored sparrows, occasional sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens and gray partridge, marbled gotwit and more. Duck paradise.

Western and SW North Dakota: Cowboy country, pickup trucks and cowboy hats – badlands regions that are dry, arid; Theodore Roosevelt National Park, national grasslands (1.3 million acres of public land). Due to the distances involved, plan for plenty of time to explore this unique area. It’s worth the trip. Very scenic, bring your camera for the bison, prairie dogs and rattlesnakes.

Rock wrens, turkey vultures, Sprague’s pipit, spotted towhee, Townsend’s Solitaire, mountain bluebird, lazuli bunting, assorted sparrows, Loggerhead shrikes, wild turkey, common poorwill (at night); burrowing owls, long-billed curlew, lark bunting, sharp-tailed grouse, gray partridge, black-billed magpie and more.

In short; there are many local attractions available to tourists in any part of the state visited. Come and check it out for yourself!

  • Jean Legge

    Valley City, ND |

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 407

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird - Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birds of the Dakotas Field Guide

    | By Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2021 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 344 pages, colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781647551926 Buy this book from
  • North Dakota Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

    | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2003 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781583552230 Buy this book from
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • Turtle Mountain Birding Festival

    Since 2003, the Turtle Mountain Birding Festival has provided the expert Ornithologist, and hobbyist alike, a wide variety of habitats in which to explore and examine a wide variety of rare North American birds. Along the Border of the United States and Canada, the scenic forest and lakes region of the Turtle Mountains provides another popular birding destination for bird watchers to have a glimpse of some of the rarest birds that North America has to offer.
  • Audubon Society in North Dakota

    Offices & Chapters
  • Audubon Dakota

    For more than 100 years, Audubon has been connecting people with nature through the annual Christmas Bird Count, The Great Backyard Bird Count and Important Bird Area surveys, all of which provide scientists with critical bird population trend data and diversity records.
  • Birding Drives Dakota

    As a state with 62 National Wildlife Refuges (more than any other state!) North Dakota has a lot to offer - it's one of those very special places left in the world. Our group, Birding Drives Dakota, is a unique coalition of communities working in concert with four of those refuges, and a host of other federal, state and local agencies, to promote birding and conservation
  • Fargo Moorhead Audubon Society

    A local Audubon chapter dedicated to the gathering, sharing, and dissemination of information pertaining to avian life in the Fargo-Moorhead area and their respective counties of Cass and Clay (No. Dak. and Minn.), with a focus on education, conservation, and public outreach. Bird devotees of all stripes--from casual to serious--are welcome… See their Facebook page.
  • Grand Forks Audubon Society

    Facebook Page The Grand Forks Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, Inc.
  • Nature Conservancy in the Dakotas

    A new and not yet very developed site. Welcome to the home page of the Nature Conservancy of The Dakotas! Here you'll find information on the many ways we're working with the people of the state and the nation to help preserve the diversity of living things by protecting the habitats in which they live…
  • North Dakota Bird Records Committee

    The following is a list of the species and recognizable subspecies that the North Dakota Bird Records Committee would like documented, when found in North Dakota. Any species that is new to the state, or greatly out-of season (such as a Yellow Warbler in the winter); should also be documented.
  • North Dakota Birding Society

    To promote the study of birds in North Dakota, stimulate public interest in birds and foster the preservation of birdlife and its natural habitat

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Edward M. Brigham III Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    Audubon Dakota manages the 2300-acre Edward M. Brigham III Alkali Lake Sanctuary for birds, other wildlife and people to thrive. This mosaic of interspersed grasslands and wetlands provides habitat for some of North Dakota’s most iconic species of birds, including Western Meadowlarks, Bobolinks, Northern Pintails, Red Heads, and many more. The Sanctuary grasslands encircle 700-acre Alkali Lake which provides feeding grounds for White Pelicans and a diversity of water & shorebirds.
  • BS Frederick L Wicks Prairie Wildlife Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Frederick L. Wicks Prairie Wildlife Sanctuary consists of 400 acres (most of Section 33, T156N, R89W) of hummocky virgin short-grass prairie – including over twenty wetland basins (glacial potholes, the largest covering 25 acres, another covering 3 acres) – on the Missouri Plateau (the high-plains end of the Great Plains), midway between the Missouri River (to the southwest) and the Souris River (to the northeast), the latter flowing north into Lake
  • NR John E Williams Preserve

    InformationSatellite View
    The shallow lakes of the Williams preserve are important migratory stopover areas for birds during both spring and fall migration. Large numbers of waterfowl and sandhill cranes are often present. During the summer breeding season, colonies of gulls and cormorants can be observed on some of the islands in Lake Peterson and Pelican Lake.
  • NWR Audubon

    InformationSatellite View
    Coleharbor, North Dakota. Welcome to Audubon National Wildlife Refuge in west central North Dakota. Thank you for visiting our pages on the world wide web.
  • NWR Chase Lake

    WebpageSatellite View
    Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge lies on the Missouri Coteau, a prairie region once covered with glaciers over 10,000 years ago. As the glacier carved its way across the state, shallow depressions or dents were created. Once the glacier melted, water collected in these depressions. Today, this area is known as the Prairie Pothole Region, one of the most productive ecosystems on Earth. It supports more than 200 species of migratory birds and is known as the duck factory of North America.
  • NWR Des Lacs NWR

    WebpageSatellite View
    Des Lacs NWR encompasses more than 19,500 acres along the Des Lacs River from the Canadian border to a point eight miles south of Kenmare, North Dakota. A mix of natural lakes and managed wetlands in the valley provide a haven for migrating and nesting waterfowl and marsh birds.
  • NWR J Clark Salyer

    WebpageSatellite View
    J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge lies astride the lower reaches of the Souris River in McHenry and Bottineau counties. The refuge was established in 1935 for the preservation and propagation of migratory waterfowl and other wildlife…
  • NWR Long Lake

    WebpageSatellite View
    Spring and fall brings the sounds of the Sandhill crane as they stop to rest during their biannual migration. Even an occasional endangered whooping crane will stop by for a visit.
  • NWR Lostwood

    InformationSatellite View
    Lostwood NWR lies in the heart of the Missouri Coteau region, an ancient glacial moraine area. This is an area of rolling hills covered with mixed-grass prairie. The area is dotted with wetlands, commonly called "potholes". The refuge contains a 5,577 acre Wilderness Area established in 1975. The refuge provides breeding habitat for the Great Plains population of the threatened Piping Plover. The refuge is also a stronghold of declining grassland species, such as Baird's Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, Le Conte's Sparrow, and Nelson's Sparrow. It is also an important breeding area for waterfowl and prairie shorebirds.
  • NWR Tewaukon

    InformationSatellite View
    ...tallgrass prairie, one of the most threatened ecosystems in North America. Migratory birds associated with both the Central Flyway and Mississippi Flyway come together at the refuge complex, which has the following key habitat and wildlife values: 1) Wetlands are important migration and breeding habitat for waterfowl and other waterbirds...
  • NWR Upper Souris

    WebpageSatellite View
    The 1930's brought drought to the Great Plains and disaster to waterfowl. Populations of ducks plummeted to all time lows and conservationists began to act. A flamboyant political cartoonist from Iowa, Jay N. Ding Darling, became director of the newly formed Bureau of Biological Survey and chose J. Clark Salyer as his top aide.
  • North Dakota - US Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Hot links to parks
  • North Dakota's Prairie Potholes

    OverviewSatellite View
    Located in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region, North Dakota contains wetland densities exceeding 150 wetlands per square mile in many areas…
  • WP Sullys Hill National Game Preserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Sullys Hill National Game Preserve. Located near Devils Lake, North Dakota, Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is home to richly forested hills, wetlands, and prairie grasslands. Due to this varied habitat Sullys Hill is also home to over 250 species of migratory birds and waterfowl. The refuge consists of 1,674 acres of varied habitat and maintains a big game unit, which is home to American Plains Bison, Rocky Mountain Elk, Whitetail Deer, Wild Turkey, Prairie Dogs, and many other wildlife species. At Sullys Hill there is something for everyone who enjoys the outdoors.
Sightings, News & Forums

    Mailing List
    This website allows you to join or leave the ND-BIRDS list. To confirm your identity and prevent third parties from subscribing you to the list against your will, an e-mail message with a confirmation code will be sent to the address you specify in the form. Simply wait for this message to arrive, then follow the instructions to confirm the operation.
Trip Reports
  • 2018 [06 June] - Erik Bruhnke - Minnesota & North Dakota

    PDF Report
    VENT’s Minnesota & North Dakota tour combines a broad spectrum of vast scenery with incredible bird life and a great deal of locally-sourced cuisine. This birding adventure delves deep into the boreal forest, as well as the core of the prairie potholes, a unique region of the northern prairies.
  • 2021 [07 July] - Nick Bray

    Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho & Utah
  • 2022 [06 June] - Ian Merrill

    PDF Report
    Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming
Places to Stay
  • Missouri River Lodge B&B

    Bring your horse or enjoy a horse drawn wagon ride on the trails to view eagles nesting, deer, pheasants, geese and ducks feeding in the fields, birds of all types, and flowers and plants native to ND.
Other Links
  • Bird Watching in North Dakota

    North Dakota has many habitats for a variety of bird life. From the badlands to the prairies, these habitats make North Dakota a great place to go bird watching. Bird watching (sometimes referred to as birding) is a great hobby – interesting and fun with much to be learned….
  • Birding Drives Dakota

    Sprague's Pipit. Baird
  • ND Backyard Birding

    My name is Sharon Watson. I grew up and still live in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and for as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed being outdoors and watching nature. My hobbies include gardening, birding and photography. Most of my birding occurs in my own backyard. I have been a Purple Martin Landlord since the early nineties and love feeding the various species of birds that live and visit my yard. In fact, I have created a backyard habitat for birds and other wildlife. It is not uncommon for me to see Chickadees, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers, or Squirrels visiting my yard…
  • Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

    Since 1965, migratory birds have been a major focus of the research program at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC). Studies have emphasized waterbirds, including waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) and cranes and their habitats. More recently, studies have been added that consider population and community issues of nongame upland species, including passerines and shorebirds. This fact sheet summarizes current work with migratory birds and their habitats and provides a review of past studies that continue to be used to improve management and sustainability of populations.

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