Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Minnesota, Dakotas and Northeastern Wyoming, June 29–July 18, 2004,
(jhvsteenis AT hotmail.com)
Introduction: Where can you go on holiday in July, be certain of a lot of birds, and of speaking the language? I decided to go to Minnesota and adjacent prairie states… about a month in advance. This meant quickly studying a lot of bird sounds and ordering Kim Eckert’s “A Birder’s Guide to Minnesota” (which arrived just in time). For the other states, I had to rely on far less information (which finally set me off to “Explore” as the Minnesota license plates urge!).
Trip reports for this part of the USA are very rare, but the ones I found were helpful. The lack of reports is curious – maybe American birders are not all that interested in those Minnesota warblers and Dakota sparrows they can see on migration? For Europeans tied to the summer holiday period, it surely is an excellent destination – after you learnt how to deal with those mosquitoes!
Abbreviations: The following are used throughout the text:
Co. - County
CR - County Road
FR - Forest Road
I - Interstate highway
MN - Minnesota (state highway)
ND - North Dakota (state highway)
NP - National Park
NWR - National Wildlife Refuge
SD - South Dakota (state highway)
SP - State Park
TWP - Township Road
US - US highway
WMA - Wildlife Management Area
WY - Wyoming (state highway)
Getting there and getting around: The availability of flights gets limited in summer, but I paid a reasonable price for a United Airlines flight (Amsterdam–Chicago–Minneapolis; Minneapolis–Washington–Amsterdam). Check on American entry policies which have become more strict for some nations (including allies), but I had no trouble at all.
Although I managed to reach quite some interesting birding areas in Texas by public transport in August 1995 (an epic journey by a student with no driver’s license), I was not going to try to repeat this in these northern states. I had arranged a rental car through an agency in the Netherlands at Dollar Rent-a-car for less than € 35 per day. I was not bound to a “five-state limit” they set on others. The car turned out to be a new Mitsubishi Lancer, which was adequate for birding in most places except in parts of North Dakota, where a truck (or a bike!) is not a bad idea. Gas prices (for regular unleaded) varied from $ 1,75/gallon ($ 0.46/L) in Minnesota to $ 1,999/gallon ($ 0.53/L) in North Dakota. For someone from a small, densely populated country like the Netherlands, the empty landscapes and long distances are almost beyond imagination.
Roads: Some roads have both a name and a number: one of these may be shown on the map, while the other is shown on the road sign. In some areas, road signs are too sparse for comfort. The East River Road south of Medora (ND) is one example (although I found my way through), the area between Crook’s Creek (SD) and Marmarth (ND) another (here, I turned around).
Paved roads (asphalt roads) are less suitable for birding, because they tend to be narrower, without any space to park safely. It could be a good idea to bring a bicycle along in your car (I missed mine!). In North Dakota, parking on the pavement (= asphalt) is illegal. Snowmobile trails can be used as parking spaces, but entrances to fields etc. should not be blocked.
The most interesting roads for birding are made of gravel. When it is dry, they can be very dusty, when wet, they can be very muddy. When the gravel is loose, driving can be challenging no matter what the conditions are! Near Jamestown, North Dakota, I turned around upon finding the road to Pipestem Lake too dangerous to drive on after a night of rain.
It is usually possible to park the car on the side of gravel roads (in North Dakota, parking on the main traveled part of the road is illegal). Do not try to park the car off the road without checking the shoulder first (especially on roads through bogs): I got stuck sideways in a dry ditch on Aitkin CR 18, and had to be pulled out by a helpful passer-by (“You are not the first one to do this”). Note that not many people pass by! The car was OK luckily.
The birding areas around Jamestown and in Kidder Co. (ND) are mostly off-limits to cars without high clearance (but don’t expect this to be mentioned). Tracks overgrown with grass or “minimal maintenance roads” are not funny. I became very worried about getting stuck when driving the auto-tour through Arrowwood NWR. A mountain bike could be an alternative type of transport here.
On gravel roads, it is common practice to greet the other drivers; on paved roads, this is less likely, unless you are walking along the road (just let them know you’re OK!).
Money: The well-known dollar ($) was worth about € 0,83. A credit card is very useful (and necessary if you want to book reservations). I found out that the actual spending limit on my card (which is quite low) was effectively halved because of exchange rate discrepancies. Next time, I know one collect call can solve these problems… but luckily, there were always ATMs where I could use my bank card (not just near banks, but also inside many gas stations and at commercial campsites). All of these charge you extra for use (usually $ 1,50), and some don’t give more than $ 100.
Weather/Dress: The (afternoon) temperatures were nice, usually between 20 and 25 °C (“seventies”); only in the west, it reached 32 °C (“ninety”). Around July 4, it was very cold, with temperatures in Grand Marais barely reaching 10 °C (“fifty”). Europeans not familiar with the Fahrenheit scale should learn it. Rain fell on a number of days, but usually not in the morning. Some severe thunderstorms just missed me. In Minnesota, it was light from about 5.30 am to 9.30 pm. In the Mountain Time Zone (southwest ND, west SD, WY), it was light from 5 pm to 9 pm.
When birding, wear long pants, tucked into your socks, a T-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt with a collar, and a hat. This has nothing to do with the weather, but everything with:
Biting creatures: Mosquitoes rule in Minnesota. Cover the few remaining bare parts of your body and your socks with DEET (sold as “OFF!” in stores everywhere), and keep them away from your eyelids, inner ear or nostrils… Luckily, they were unable to sting through my clothing, so I could tolerate their presence there. They were blissfully absent in Wyoming. For statistics on West Nile virus (carried by mosquitoes), check http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/.
Deer flies may also buzz around your head, land in your hair, and occasionally bite you: wearing a hat relieves this problem a bit. However, when looking up (at a warbler for example), they land on your face (or glasses). They were most prominent around Itasca SP, where they even followed the car.
Black flies (another boreal specialty) had apparently died off already.
The ticks are nothing like the tiny European creatures that end up in unspeakable places: they are really big, with just one thing on their mind: reaching your head. Making sure they cannot end up under your clothing gives you the best chance of removing them before they bite. A collar forces them to climb down to continue their way up: this concept is unknown to them, so they stop. They can carry Lyme’s disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I did not notice any in South Dakota or Wyoming (unlike other birders).
Other dangerous animals and plants: I did not see bears or moose (missed one by 5 minutes). However, keep their presence in mind (especially near the Gunflint Trail). American Bison (which everyone calls buffalo) are abundant in Theodore Roosevelt NP and make birding less comfortable, as they can occur anywhere, and summer is rutting season. The numerous deer (and in places Pronghorn) present a very real danger by crossing roads. Smaller animals are more dangerous if you try to avoid hitting them (I reminded myself of this after steering clear of a suicidal ground-squirrel). You’ll also receive warnings about the dangers of prairiedogs, rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, poison ivy and wild parsnip (!), but I still have to see my first rattlesnake, and I hope everyone is smart enough not to put his arm into burrows. Also be careful when rescuing turtles!
Food and drink: If you like fastfood or barbecuing, you’ll be in paradise. The Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais was very good, and also proved that good American beer does exist. If the local Mexican restaurant has Spanish-speaking owners, it’s an option. Good supermarkets are usually present (check the Yellow Pages under “Grocers”, or search the major thoroughfares away from town), but sometimes I had to survive on food from gas stations, which varied from OK to poor.
Where to stay: I spent most nights camping ($ 10 [Theodore Roosevelt NP] to $ 22 [Spearfish KOA campground]), and some in motels ($ 40–60). To go birding at night, a motel is probably a better idea, since you do not disturb the rest of the campground. I never made reservations, which is plain stupid if you want to stay in Duluth or Minneapolis during the weekend.
Where to bird: In many places, you are restricted to birding the roadside. Bogs are (too) often separated from the road by ditches. Only in developed areas (like state parks), hiking trails are available. There are some long-distance hiking trails through National Forests and Grasslands, but are you going to walk >100 miles one way? Other public lands are accessible, but without trails they are not always attractive (just think of those ticks). In South Dakota, many private fields were “walk-in areas”; in North Dakota, access was restricted to the hunting season. In the Thunder Basin in Wyoming, public and private land are intermingled, but it is unclear which is which!
Park Vehicle Permits: For state and national parks, you have to purchase a vehicle permit. In Minnesota, a day permit costs $ 7, and is valid for two days in any state park (which unfortunately was not explained to me by the first ranger who sold me one). A year permit costs $ 25, so it’s probably worth buying. It is a window sticker that is easy to remove (important if you’re driving a rental car!). In North Dakota, a park permit was $ 5 (valid for one day). Entry to Theodore Roosevelt NP was $ 5 (receipt valid for nine days, and for both units); entry to Devils Tower National Monument was $ 10 (receipt is valid for a week).
Sightings, misses, and possibilities: I did quite well, with most warblers and sparrows that I looked for also found. The itinerary is good for all Minnesota’s regular breeding warblers, but Prothonotary (seen in Venezuela), Bay-breasted and Wilson’s were quiet or absent, and I did not look for Hooded (seen in Texas). Virginia’s Warbler (seen in Texas) occurs locally in the Black Hills: Gruff Dodd’s report gives excellent directions.
Sharp-tailed Grouse, Greater Prairie-chicken, and those elusive Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers were very cooperative. An Arctic Tern in Minnesota was a real surprise.
I missed out on most night birds (as usual), and I did not pay too much attention to ducks. I should have had more patience with Yellow Rail. Other regrettable misses were Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock and Henslow’s Sparrow. Problems in reaching the right habitat probably cost me McCown’s Longspur and Long-billed Curlew. At Devils Tower, looking from the entrance towards the campground apparently offers a good chance of Lewis’s Woodpecker.
To give you an idea of other possibilities, I also provide lists of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies I saw (for most of which I did not really search).
Kim R. Eckert, A Birder’s Guide to Minnesota, 4th Edition, Gavian Guides, 2002. Excellent and highly entertaining (unless you happen to live in a county without good birding areas).
Updates and corrections can be found at http://www.cbs.umn.edu/~mou/birders_guide.html. Areas treated in this book are marked with an asterisk*; two asterisks mean you should check the updates.
A helpful find was his VENT-log: http://www.ventbird.com/db/pdf/bl/103MND-bl.pdf.
Jerry A. Cooper, Birdfinder: A Birder's Guide to Planning North American Trips, American Birding Association, 1995. Gave good (though outdated) directions for North Dakota.
Joseph Knue, North Dakota Wildlife Viewing Guide, Falcon, 1992. Can be used to find some interesting areas (like Cross Ranch SP, which I would have missed otherwise), but the emphasis is very much on Canada Geese and White-tailed Deer…
Birding drives Dakota: ND (Jamestown) – free brochure available at the TIC along I-94, or at http://www.birdingdrives.com/.
Gruff Dodd, North Central USA, 12 - 20 June, 1999;
- trip report (SD / WY / ND / MN) available on-line at http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/usa/dakota/report.htm
Samuel Hansson, Northwestern USA, 19 June-11 July 2003;
- trip report (MN / ND/ SD / WY) available on-line at http://www.club300.se/resedatabas/filer/NorthwesternUSA2003_SH.pdf
Mary Beth Stowe, Northern Route Home, August 1998;
- collection of logs (MN / ND) from BirdChat: start at http://listserv.arizona.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9808b&L=birdchat&P=5972
Maps to parks (and much more info) can be found
on the following sites (and at the parks themselves):
Minnesota State Parks: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/list_alpha.html
North Dakota State Parks: http://www.ndparks.com/Parks/parksa-z.htm
National Parks and Monuments: http://data2.itc.nps.gov/parksearch/atoz.cfm
Treatment of other areas varies, but you can start
National Wildlife Refuges: http://refuges.fws.gov/profiles/byletter.cfm
National Forests and National Grasslands: http://www.fs.fed.us/
Murphy-Hanrehan Regional park: http://www.threeriversparkdistrict.org/parks/maps/Murphy_summer.pdf
Sax-Zim bog: http://www.irontrail.org/_site_components/images/map-sax-2.gif
A free map depicting most Forest Roads in the Black Hills National Forest can be picked up throughout the area. It also informs you of all those G-rated attractions you will be glad to miss; it is on-line at http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com.
Free state maps can be picked up at Travel Information Centers or Visitor’s Centers.
In some cases, I would have liked to have county or topographical maps: the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer series seems to be one of the answers.
David A. Sibley, The Sibley Guide to Birds, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. If only the sizes were given in cm as well…
Lang Elliott, Donald Stokes, Lillian Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs. Eastern Region, TimeWarner, 1997.
Kevin J. Colver, Donald Stokes, Lillian Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs. Western Region, TimeWarner, 1999.
John O. Whittaker, Jr., National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals, Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
J. L. Behlet, F. W. King, The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.
Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman, Butterflies of North America, Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
Tuesday, June 29. Seeing a Eurasian Hobby and White Storks (on their nest near Geldermalsen) from the train to Schiphol Airport, the addition of Greenland to my “sighted area” list and Red-tailed Hawk to my pathetic Illinois list, were the highlights of the journey to Minneapolis. The honor of “first bird sighted in Minnesota” went to… Great Egret! My luggage arrived an hour after me with the next plane from Chicago. After collecting the rental car (and a short explanation on using automatic gear), I searched for a motel, which I found (after some driving around) next to the airport in the shape of the Motel 6 on Cedar Avenue. Appropriately, I saw two Cedar Waxwings. I was smart enough to take the car to a nearby grocer’s.
Wednesday, June 30. I headed to Black Dog Lake*, where I walked the south side. Besides mosquitos, I found many birds, although I was somewhat bewildered by all the new sounds (despite my homework). Willow Flycatcher was the best bird found. I saw my first of many Sedge Wrens and Swamp Sparrows; Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat unsurprisingly were the first warblers of the trip.
Next, I moved on to Murphy-Hanrehan Regional Park*. Kim Eckert calls it “not the easiest place to find”, but taking the Burnsville Parkway exit from I-35W is my suggestion to simplify your route. Parking is free on weekdays. I walked only the area between markers 1, 2, and 3, with a Texas-induced disregard for Minnesota’s only Hooded Warblers and Summer Tanagers elsewhere in the park. Ovenbird, American Redstart, Chestnut-sided, and Blue-winged Warbler were seen, but my true target bird, Cerulean Warbler, was only heard. I did not walk the closed trails (which are gated in part).
During my drive to the southeastern corner of the state, I discovered the first tick climbing up my sleeve, which was both disturbing (a monster!), and comforting (at least they’re visible). I visited Whitewater SP*, where I walked the Meadow and Valley Trails along the Whitewater River. A Blue-winged Warbler was at the bridge where the Valley Trail starts (causing confusion by singing its alternate song), but not much else of real interest was found. My only Red-shouldered Hawk of the trip was seen a bit further north-east, along Winona CR 26.
The road along the Mississippi was very scenic, but I drove on to Beaver Creek Valley SP*. I overcharged myself heavily for a campsite. A Woodchuck was the best sighting this evening, but hearing Wood Thrush sing was nice as well. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were calling at dusk.
Thursday, July 1. A search along the full length of the creek (on the aptly named Beaver Creek Valley Trail) yielded Acadian Flycatcher (for which this is a traditional site), Blue-winged Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager and Bald Eagle (overhead). Along the Plateau Rock Trail (east of the valley), I saw a Wood Thrush. Finally, in a steep, nearly dry creek along the Steep Rock Trail (100 yards from the campsite!), I found a Louisiana Waterthrush calling and tail-bobbing incessantly. A feeder on the campground was popular with Baltimore Orioles (but no Tufted Titmice), while the gravel road through the park proved attractive to butterflies.
I drove to La Crescent*, where I found Protonothary and Cerulean Warbler habitat quiet, and a trail through it impassable.
No Henslow’s Sparrow was heard or seen at its traditional (and occupied) site in Great River Bluffs SP*, and I quickly continued to the Kellogg-Weaver Dunes*, seeing some American White Pelicans on the way. The dunes were colored purple with some kind of vetch (all Dutch people think it is heather), and Dickcissel, Grasshopper and Lark Sparrow were seen. No evidence of Bell’s Vireos or Blanding’s Turtles though.
A long haul to St. Cloud ended at the local Motel 6.
Friday, July 2. I started my day at Sherburne NWR*, with a Loggerhead Shrike along Benton CR 7 as a nice start of the day. The Yellow-breasted Chat that had been reported along the Blue Hill Trail was not found, but Mourning and Black-and-white Warblers were around near the entrance. Sandhill Cranes were heard in the distance.
The Prairie’s Edge Wildlife Drive was interesting, with among others a single Yellow-headed Blackbird, a fly-by American Bittern, Eastern Towhee, and a badly showing Golden-winged Warbler in the north-east corner of the drive (which kept me from seeing Sandhill Cranes). Near the end of the drive, the Bald Eagle’s chick had fledged, and now was on the next branch of the tree.
I drove north on US-169 via Mille Lacs Lake. I saw the small Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Reservation, and their large casino. Finally, the native Americans are cashing in on the white man’s greed. A few American Herring-Gulls were present along the lake at Wigwam Bay. A quick check of the Garrison lakefront* revealed a group of Ring-billed and Bonaparte’s Gulls and Forster’s Terns on a jetty. A smaller tern among them turned out to be an Arctic Tern, a most unexpected find! I made some notes after I read it had never been found away from Duluth, and before the birds were chased off by boat-owners.
I continued to Savannah Portage SP, where I found Blackburnian, Nashville, and (heard-only) Black-throated Green Warblers, and other boreal birds like Winter Wren (heard), Purple Finch and Brown Creeper along the Esker Trail, while dealing with Minnesota’s most vicious mosquitoes.
An evening visit to McGregor* yielded Savannah and LeConte’s Sparrow (along CR 8), but the Yellow Rails were quiet. At Savannah Portage SP, I saw American Beavers, obviously at the Beaver Pond Trail.
Saturday, July 3. I started off at McGregor, where Yellow Rails did not call (anymore?). Sandhill Cranes did, but too far away. The alternate male Bobolinks presented a “new plumage” for me.
I drove the auto tour through nearby Rice Lake NWR*, which was very rewarding. Alder Flycatcher (in the entrance area), two Golden-winged Warblers (both singing high-up in trees: one at the first wooded area on the left (south) of the entrance road [after 0.5 mile or so], one just after the Rice Lake overlook), a stunning Virginia Rail (in a marshy area on the north side of the entrance road), and Great Horned Owl (chased by crows at Rice Lake) were highlights. Buzzing LeConte’s and Clay-colored Sparrows were easily found in the area beyond Rice Lake. Some well-known ducks were present on Rice Lake itself. I also found out why Ring-necked Duck is called like that (the two birds I have seen in the Netherlands were “a bit” to far away).
Next, I drove to Aitkin TWP 380*, where Sharp-tailed Grouse should be possible. I could not find tamaracks (in which they apparently liked to sit). The best fields contained Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink and Sedge Wren, but in the end a passing quad chased a grouse from the side of the road!
Since the area did not look very interesting for anything else, I continued to Aitkin CR 18*, which should be good for boreal species. After a few unproductive stops, I found a better-looking area. I put my car on the side of the road, slid sideways into a ditch, and was stuck. After addressing myself in impolite terms, I decided to walk back to US 169 (2 miles), to look for help. This walk did yield a Black-billed Cuckoo, which I somehow could not enjoy fully. Just a few yards from US 169, a pick-up truck turned onto the road, and the driver was kind enough to help me out (after getting a chain from one of his neighbors). All-in-all, it cost me two hours and a lot of sweat!
I did not feel like birding this road any further (of course, I later learned White-winged Crossbill had been seen in the area), and moved on to Rabey’s Tree Farm**. Kim Eckert led a tour group here to see Cape May Warbler, so I followed suit. I parked on a snowmobile trail opposite the tree farm (after checking if the shoulder was firm!), and walked along the (overgrown) trail to a much more obvious trail on a levee. Along this levee, I saw my only Cape May Warbler (a male) and American (Northern) Goshawk (chased by Ravens), along with Myrtle Warbler, White-throated Sparrow (I had heard some elsewhere already) and a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers (unknown to breed in Aitkin Co.).
Glad after this success, I went back to Savannah Portage SP, where I heard Pine Warbler at the field station* and saw a Minnesota Forestry Management car with a license plate reading “CUT-IT”. Well, they’ll get their chance now the state government gets a bigger say in National Forest management. It started to rain heavily, but in the evening it was dry. Around Lake Shumway (does anyone else remember who Gordon Shumway was? You don’t have to admit you do…) many Pine Warblers sang. The Interpretive Bog Boardwalk was short but fun, with a weird-singing Northern Parula, Stemless Lady’s-slipper, Sweet Pitcherplant (which I had looked forward to), and another American Beaver.
Sunday, July 4. Independence Day. I went to Sax-Zim Bog (which should be called Meadowlands Bog I guess?), and easily found Owl Avenue* (CR 202), which I birded from south to north. The first stop produced the difficult Palm Warbler at close range (west of the road). A bit further north, I heard (and more-or-less saw) a Connecticut Warbler (east of the road), but it was on the other side of a ditch that I did not want to jump across. Broad-winged Hawk was luckily a lot more visible. Eight deer legs on the road (and a skin in a ditch) were a rather gruesome find. I refrained from running away screaming, and not much further on, there was an accessible tamarack bog on the west side (opposite Mottonen Rd.), with a singing Connecticut Warbler! After an easy (yet anxious) walk through the bog, I found the bird up in a tree. Two others were heard. The northern part of the road is mostly spruce bog, where Gray Jay, Slate-colored Junco, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Black-backed Woodpecker (which had been reported), and Boreal Chickadees (exactly where promised*) were found.
I continued along Arkola road to the Sharp-tailed Grouse lek*. A very annoyed Sharp-tailed Grouse walked away from me, and kept on complaining. Searching the posts was good for a distant Upland Sandpiper. Further exploration was hindered a bit by showers, but I still saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk flying high over McDavitt Road*.
After this, I drove all the way along Lake Superior to Grand Marais, through simultaneous downpours and fog along “no vacancy” signs. The huge (and expensive) campgrounds have nice tent sites, although their facilities were breaking down a bit. I finally had a good meal, and had a nice discussion in which I was asked about the bad sides of the Netherlands (I could think of some). The fireworks in the harbor were quite impressive.
Monday, July 5. I drove up the Gunflint Trail to the South Brule River*, where I walked along a trail that led to the west across a bridge. The logged area here was good for Canada Warbler. A Common Goldeneye was on the river, and Northern Waterthrush was heard. The area around the North Brule River* was somewhat disappointing, although Pine Siskin was new.
I then turned my attention to the Lima Mountain Road*, where the spruce patches at its start held Black-backed Woodpecker (its mate was nearby, across the Gunflint Trail), and Boreal Chickadee. Magnolia Warbler was found quite soon after. An area of forest with some aspen and white cedar was most interesting, with a noisy family of American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Blue-headed Vireo.
The northern part of Lima Grade Road* had some maple forest** (where I heard Black-throated Green Warbler; rarer things are possible) and bogs, where I found Northern Waterthrush. A dense spruce forest opposite Bow Lake Road held Ruby-crowned Kinglet and yet another Black-backed Woodpecker.
It was getting quite late, and the best birds found along the southern Lima Grade Road were more Boreal Chickadees. I missed a Moose, that was seen from one of the ten or so cars that had passed me this day. Along South Brule Road, there was a Blackburnian Warbler in a pine.
Back in Grand Marais, I finally saw a Black-throated Green Warbler when going to the laundromat (of course I did not carry my binoculars).
Tuesday, July 6. I headed to the loop trail on Oberg Mountain* for Black-throated Blue Warbler, and found two cooperative males. Both occurred in forest with high aspen trees, lower maples, and rather high undergrowth (a bit different from the habitat described by Eckert), and start looking as soon as you reach the loop! This popular hiking area, and FR 336 leading to it, were good for other warblers too (among others a Black-throated Green Warbler in a low, open bush).
On the way back to Grand Marais, I made a useless stop at Spruce Creek Ponds*, and a useful stop at CR 44*, where two Philadelphia Vireos showed well, along with an Alder Flycatcher.
I still had to see Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, so I decided to have another go at the Lima Mountain area. And sure enough, along South Brule Road one was singing (about two miles from the turn-off). I later found another one at the Loon Lake public access along the Gunflint Trail, which I cannot recommend for birding (no spaces to park), but the destruction from a storm in 1995 is still impressive.
In Grand Marais, I walked to Artist’s Point, an ancient granite outcrop in front of the harbor. Seven Hooded Mergansers swam along the beach, and many American (Common) Mergansers were present in the shallows on the harbor side. I was expecting Red-breasted Merganser, but did not find any.
Wednesday, July 7. After checking the harbor area again, I drove westward. Not too many birds were seen along Lake Superior, but at least there was no fog or rain this time.
I drove via the Fond-du-Lac Indian reservation (where a Black-billed Cuckoo crossed the road) along MN-210 to US-10. In Wadena County (worth four paragraphs from Eckert), a pair of Trumpeter Swans with 2 cygnets was present on a pond along the highway. Though reintroduced, these are still somewhat interesting.
I finally reached Maplewood SP (after carrying a Painted Turtle off the road), which supports a few birds at the edge of their range. The first interesting birds were Eastern Marsh-Wrens (at least they sounded like those), which I had not put too much effort into yet (and may have missed because of all the Sedge Wrens). In the maple and ironwood-dominated park, a nice Cooper’s Hawk flew by along the Interpretive Trail along Grass Lake, where also a scolding Baltimore Oriole drew in a curious Yellow-throated Vireo.
Thursday, July 8. I left early for Rothsay Prairie, and saw a nice sunrise over Lida Lake. West of Rothsay*, the prairie-chicken lek at 190th Street** was my first goal. There is a road through a WMA going north from here (somewhat east of the lek area), but I had walked this for just a few yards when a Greater Prairie-chicken flew by over 190th Street. A bit further along the road, a second one flew by. Finding them back on the ground proved too hard. It was impossible not to get irritated by the Killdeers (which were probably feeling the same way about me). Upland Sandpiper, Western Meadowlark and various sparrows were easy to find. I checked the small Western Prairie*, where another Greater Prairie-chicken was present (this one was somewhat visible after it landed). You are allowed to walk this area (which I did not): this may be your last resort if the prairie-chickens are uncooperative. If you think it is unethical to disturb them, remember that a hundred of these birds are allowed to be shot each year in MN. I would not be surprised if more of them get killed, because not too far away (on 280th Ave.), I saw a Ring-necked Pheasant. The Striped Skunk along the same road was a lot better! I also visited Anne Rothsay Prairie*, but only Western Kingbirds were new for the trip.
Heading back to Maplewood SP, I checked Lida Lake, of which the south part had the best birds (a pair of Red-necked Grebes and a Bald Eagle that beat a fish out of the water, but could not catch it). In the north part, American White Pelicans were present. I saw yet another Cooper’s Hawk in Maplewood.
After this, I drove to Jamestown (North Dakota), picking up a “Birding Drives” brochure along the way (at the first rest area in ND). The numbers of Yellow-headed Blackbirds along I-94 were impressive. I followed the Birding Drives’ guidelines to Arrowwood NWR. A large flock of Franklin’s Gulls was present along US 281. Along 11th Street (CR 44), I saw three Sharp-tailed Grouse (one very well). The auto tour loop was not nice to drive, because of lots of grass (and sometimes soil) scraping the bottom of the car. Moreover, it started to look like rain. Despite my worries, at least I found some California Gulls, Brown Thrasher, another Sharp-tailed Grouse, and two species of yellowlegs.
I eventually found a room in Jamestown (at the Day’s Inn), and had a pizza.
Friday, July 9. It had rained a lot at night, and it was foggy early-on. The idea of taking the Birding Drive from Jamestown to Chase Lake was abandoned before Pipestem Lake, when mud was flying across the car. An Orchard Oriole was a surprise.
Luckily, I-94 is paved. I took the Medina exit, and drove north along CR-68. A lake just north of Medina contained my only Black-crowned Night-Herons of the trip. Heading west on 26th Street SE, I arrived at Pearl Lake. The grasslands produced a Sharp-tailed Grouse, a Dickcissel, and my first Vesper Sparrow and Horned Lark. Common Terns and Western Willet flew by, and among the many Western Grebes I could find a pair of Clark’s Grebes (on the northern part of the lake). The road to Chase Lake NWR looked uninvitingly grassy, and I decided not to try it.
I headed back to I-94, and tried the Birdfinder’s suggestions. Salt Alkaline Lake was first. The frontage road from Crystal Springs became a Minimal Maintenance Road, and the road to Salt Alkaline Lake was closed… I did not try to reach it from Tappen.
Instead, I took the Dawson exit, and headed for McPhail State WMA. The road heading north was nice (follow the frontage road a bit to the west first), with a Ferruginous Hawk, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and a pool with many Wilson’s Phalaropes after 7 miles. One look at the road to the WMA was enough to head back to Dawson…
I followed the Birdfinder’s directions to Horsehead Lake, which need an update: “Take exit 205 from I-94, and drive north” is easier. This road did not change into something impassable! The lake usually remains in the distance, but there is a WMA if you’d like to walk up to the shore to get closer to the grebes and American Avocets. A Semipalmated Plover among the Killdeers was not the bird I was looking for. Marshy areas held two cooperative (and more uncooperative) singing (or rather “hissing”) Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows (which did not look as orange as depicted in the books), and probably would be good for Yellow Rail; drier areas had Vesper Sparrow and Chestnut-collared Longspur. When the road became paved again, it passed a causeway through the northwestern part of the lake. I parked as soon as it was allowed, and walked back to see Marbled Godwits, nervous Wilson’s Phalaropes, and a pair of Piping Plovers with two chicks (now that was the bird I was looking for)! Hudsonian Godwit had been seen somewhere in the area as well (I learned later).
ND-36 also had some lakes with shorebirds. From US-83 near Washburn, I saw large sand bars in the Missouri river. I managed to find the Riverside park in Washburn, but only gulls were on the distant sand bars. The North Dakota Wildlife Viewing Guide promised “terns” at nearby Cross Ranch SP. I headed there to find it the setting of a Bluegrass festival. I walked the Matah trail along the Missouri, and scoping “Plover Island” was successful: two Piping Plovers, and at least two Least Terns (accompanied by banjos and fiddles)! Unfortunately, I lacked the $ 130 to buy the complete Hank Williams box set.
I decided to let birds prevail over music, and drove on to Stanley, where I found a room in its sole motel (in case of an emergency: Minot has many). The high season in this area is the hunting season: the motel provided rags to clean guns and knives! A thunderstorm with large hail missed Stanley by a few miles.
Saturday, July 10. The fog was thick, and I managed to miss a turn in Stanley, but after retracing my steps, Lostwood NWR was found. I was warned that the refuge road might be impassable when wet, but by now I would call this road of excellent quality! Near the entrance: Sharp-tailed Grouse (of course).
I met a birdwatcher from Arizona; I’m sure I read his reports on the web. He was still looking for LeConte’s Sparrow (but he had seen Yellow Rail in McGregor). The area along the road that was advised to search for Baird’s Sparrow and Sprague’s Pipit (about 0.8 mile after the road turns south) was quiet, except for two distant Black-billed Magpies (the only ones saw!). Just before Dead Dog Slough, the road reached its highest point. The area looked good for prairie birds, and I heard a Baird’s Sparrow sing. I congratulated myself for my knowledge of habitat, and set off to see the bird. This failed: after ten minutes of stalking, I found a tape recorder! What kind of idiocy is this!? Well, another Sharp-tailed Grouse was nice. I drove to the end of the road, adding two Piping Plovers in their breeding enclosure. The birder told me he had heard Sprague’s Pipit (where I had heard LeConte’s Sparrow!) between School Section Lake and Knudson Slough. On the way back, I first walked along the Sharp-tailed Grouse lek area (two seen), and found a nice broomrape. Walking back to the road (at about 11.30 by now), I finally heard Sprague’s Pipit. This was not a recording, but an actual bird flying high up in the air (all the practice with Sky and Wood Larks paid off). And back on the road, I heard Baird’s Sparrow. This time, I could verify it as coming from a (briefly seen) bird… what a relief. I collected four ticks for this one tick. A Coyote was along School Section Lake; a Bufflehead imitating the Ruddy Ducks in Dead Dog Slough was therefore almost missed by me.
Just outside the refuge, a Northern Pocket-Gopher crossed the road. 25 miles south of Stanley, I saw two Lark Buntings.
I drove on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit). South of the Missouri, some buttes were the first sign of a changing landscape, but it was not until the Scenic Overlook on US-85 that I knew what to expect. Very impressive. Inside the park, Spotted Towhee and Lazuli Bunting were common. On the campgrounds, I saw two Yellow-breasted Chats (and heard two more). I searched for a good trail for birding (I ruled out crossing the Little Missouri, which was more than a little big and muddy). The poplars in the flood plain were the home of Red-headed Woodpecker and Bullock’s Oriole. I walked the trail from the Cannonball Concretions to the Prairie Dog Town (actually, I spent more time off the trail while steering clear of the American Bison herd). Mountain Bluebirds were obvious at the Prairie Dog Town. I walked back along the road, and saw a flock of “Wild” Turkeys. In the evening some Common Nighthawks flew around.
Sunday, July 11. The buffalo were now on the road. Driving to the end of the road in Theodore Roosevelt NP was good for finding (distant) Pronghorn and Lark Sparrow.
I went to Medora, and took the East River Road south to Sully’s Creek campground. I hoped to find the Burning Coalvein from there (which was not indicated). This made the drive more challenging than I had hoped for. I did not follow the Little Missouri Grasslands Autotour (parts of which use this road). By not turning right, and not turning left to Fryburg, I stayed on the right track. Say’s Phoebe was seen just south of Medora, but otherwise the area was rather birdless. I finally reached the turn-off to the (extinguished) Burning Coalvein and Columnar Cedars. The nicest finds at the latter were Eastern Short-horned Lizard and ‘Siva’ Juniper Hairstreak; Rock Wren was present as well. In a humid area along the access road, two Yellow-breasted Chats sang. Close to Amadon, two Cooper’s Hawks running on the ground (looking for insects?) showed some very odd behavior indeed.
I still had enough time to drive on to the Black Hills. From Amadon south, Lark Bunting was numerous. Pronghorn was very common in South Dakota. The Spearfish KOA campground was convenient for doing my laundry, and as a starting point for the next day.
Monday, July 12. An early start in Spearfish Canyon, which is a “National Scenic Byway”. This ensures a lot of parking spaces, and probably a lot of weekend traffic (I was not impressed by the traffic on weekdays). Cordilleran Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, White-throated Swift and Black-headed Grosbeak were common. Also seen were Peregrine Falcon, Swainson’s Thrush, and Eastern Warbling-Vireo. Canyon Wren was heard in various places.
I was impatient, because I wanted to go to Roughlock Falls. In the pool below the falls, I could see my goal: American Dipper. It apparently nests behind the falls, and I later saw it much better by waiting at the lookout above the pool. In-between sightings, I walked the trail back to Savoy from the falls, and saw Townsend’s Solitaire.I continued on FR 220, and soon saw Yellow-bellied Marmot crossing the road, and found MacGillivray’s Warbler. Opposite the 1997 Holiday Tree was a trailhead, where I turned right. A smart choice, because two American Three-toed Woodpeckers (with much whiter backs than in Minnesota) were along it. I also saw Red-naped Sapsucker. The trail soon turned back to the road. A trail a bit further on was filled with cows and their waste products.
I headed for Cement Ridge Overlook, which took me into Wyoming. I found Brown Creeper, Dusky Flycatcher and Audubon’s Warbler in the forest. At the overlook, I saw Western Tanager, White-winged Junco (finally!), and two Broad-winged Hawks (a rare breeder in the Black Hills). Phoebus Parnassian was a common butterfly here. I found that White-winged Junco has a more elaborate song repertoire than Slaty-colored Junco.
Rifle Pit Canyon Road (not shown on the free map: it leads back to US-85; FR 175 merges with this road just north of US-85) turned from gravel to mud, which I did not appreciate, so I took FR 875 instead. In a burnt-over area a Black-backed Woodpecker’s nest could be heard and seen from the road. Back in South Dakota, a Gray Jay (not looking all that different from the Minnesota birds) was along FR 175, just 1.8 miles north of US-85. I did not succeed in seeing Ruby-crowned Kinglet on the way back.
Tuesday, July 13. A bit of birding in a nice wooded area on the west side of the road in Spearfish Canyon added Ovenbird to the sighted list, and White-winged Juncos proved present there as well. It just showed me not to skip any parking spaces there!
I was hoping to see shortgrass prairie birds in Wyoming, but although the tourist information in Newcastle did have a map showing Wyoming’s public lands, there was nothing on National Grasslands. So I just followed the directions from a trip report, driving west on WY 450. It was not clear if the fields were accessible or not. Moreover, road works made stopping 20 miles west of Newcastle difficult. Still, I did see Chestnut-collared Longspur. Beyond WY 116, Cellars Loop Road provides access to Thunder Basin National Grasslands. This area contains a lot of sage, where Brewer’s Sparrow and Sage Thrasher were common. Despite doing a fair bit of sage thrashing myself, no grouse… Near the “Communal Pasture”, a small patch of yucca east of the road provided me with an impressive Strecker’s Giant-Skipper. After road signs appeared to have vanished, I turned around at a prairie dog town. I searched the area between Upton and Newcastle for nice fields, but failed.
Devils Tower National Monument was my next goal. I walked the South Side and Red Beds Trails in the late afternoon. A group of at least 35 Pinyon Jays near the South Side (just above the road) was very entertaining. Plumbeous Vireo was found along the Red Beds Trail, just south of the visitor’s center. A Bullsnake was spotted for me by American Robins, and I saw a Red Crossbill. Back at the campground, I an Osprey flew by. Also found were Bullock’s Oriole and Red-headed Woodpecker.
Wednesday, July 14. I walked the remaining trails, but did not see anything new except a few skippers. No new birds for my birthday! Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire (Tower Trail), and Brown Creeper (Joyner Ridge Trail) were nice.
I drove to Crook’s Camp in northwestern South Dakota, from which I hoped to find the road to Marmarth (ND). I did find Chestnut-collared Longspur, Say’s Phoebe and a beautiful Vesper Sparrow, numerous Pronghorns and Horned Larks, but not the right way (at least I was not sure I did). So I turned around, and then drove the long, long way to Bismarck. Lark Buntings were numerous up to Belfield (ND).
Thursday, July 15. It had rained again, so I was not going to search for birds in North Dakota. I drove to Tamarac NWR*, where searching Ruffed Grouse and American Woodcock habitat failed. Also, a thunderstorm approached, which I could use for cleaning the car, but not for birding.
The weather was not much better at Itasca SP*, but the evening was calm. I visited the manicured source of the Mississippi (500,000 visitors a year, and I was on my own!), and then drove the Wilderness Drive. At the end of the Bohall Trail, two Black-backed Woodpeckers were present, while a Scarlet Tanager was near the parking area. I watched the tallest white pine of Itasca, and (ex aequo) tallest red pine of the USA. A good decision, because two Evening Grosbeaks were present near the latter (but the light was bad). For Minnesota’s state flower (Showy Lady’s-slipper) the light was good enough. Two Barred Owls called in the distance (at eight pm).
Friday, July 16. I started birding at Lake Alice Bog*, where the best bird was another (badly lit) Evening Grosbeak along CR 95. CR 3 was paved, which made for less easy birding. My abundance of optimism failed to impress the Spruce Grouse. Since I needed to be at the airport early on Sunday, I decided to head for Minneapolis. During the long drive, an Osprey was seen near Gull Lake, and a single Purple Martin was noted near Pine River. Tired of driving, I took one-and-a-half hours to walk Harry Larson County Park* between Clearwater and Monticello. It was a quiet afternoon, but I was happy to see two young Eastern Garter Snakes.
Traffic got worse, because of a fatal accident on the opposite side of the road. Since motels appeared to be full, I decided to look for a campsite at Nerstrand Big Woods SP. I ended up in another traffic jam. Just north of Faribault, a “Wild” Turkey was eating grit on I-35. I had the last site in the state park.
Saturday, July 17. After all that driving, I needed some walking, and I walked nearly all trails in the park, which has been invaded by (exotic) earthworms. Many Acadian Flycatchers were present: at least eight were heard singing (two of which were seen), and one was feeding a newly-fledged chick. To save you from searching 12 miles of trail: one was on the Hidden Falls Trail, and a number were seen between Prairie Creek and the road along Fern Hill Trail. A Blue-winged Warbler sang its alternate song along the Hope Trail. Raccoon prints were common, and I saw four (three climbing up a tree and growling). I finally managed to see a Winter Wren along the Maple Trail. The fields between the park and Nerstrand were full of Savannah Sparrows, and a Sedge Wren was heard. The Horned Larks flying over the corn fields sounded exactly like the Yellow Wagtails flying over the corn fields back home. Back in the park, Red-headed Woodpecker was seen, and Barred Owl was heard.
Sunday, July 18. No birds anymore today. I drove to Minneapolis, flew to Washington Dulles, and found out that the fields that I birded from the terminal nine years ago were being built up…
In this list, all obviously differently looking birds are given their own entry. I’m fully aware that I’m inconsistent in the use of names. Since the Merganser, Goshawk and especially the Harrier look different from their Eurasian counterparts, I see no reason not to call them “American”. Eastern Winter Wren split from palearctic Wrens a million years ago, so I have taken the liberty to change its scientific name. Sites are mentioned in state order (MN, ND, SD, WY), not chronologically. : heard.
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) Reintroduced. Aldrich, US-10; Tamarac NWR.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) Widespread. I did not attempt to assess its “wildness”
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) Common in MN, ND.
Gadwall (Anas strepera) Rice Lake NWR; Arrowwood NWR; Pearl Lake; Lostwood NWR.
American Wigeon (Anas americana) Rice Lake NWR; Arrowwood NWR.
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) Lostwood NWR.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) Common.
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) Rice Lake NWR; Maplewood SP; Rothsay Prairie; ND (Prairie Potholes).
Redhead (Aythya americana) Lostwood NWR.
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) Sherburne NWR, Rice Lake NWR, Lima Grade Rd; Pearl Lake.
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) Lostwood NWR.
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) South Brule River (1); Lima Grade Road (1).
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) Lostwood NWR (1 probable imm.).
American Merganser (Mergus merganser) Grand Marais.
Hooded Merganser (Mergus cucullatus) Grand Marais (7).
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) Common in ND (Prairie Potholes).
Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) Rothsay Prairie, 190th Street (2), Western Prairie (1). All were seen early in the morning.
Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) Aitkin TWP 380 (1); Sax-Zim Bog, grouse lek (1); Stutsman Co., 11th Street (3); Arrowwood NWR, auto-tour (1); Pearl Lake (1); Lostwood NWR (4). Seen throughout the day, half of them near leks.
Common Loon (Gavia immer) Common in northern MN (from Sherburne NWR).
Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) Pearl Lake (north) (2).
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) Pearl Lake, Horsehead Lake, Lostwood NWR, I-94.
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) Lida Lake, south (2).
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) Medina; Horsehead Lake; Lostwood NWR.
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) Sherburne NWR; Rice Lake NWR; Lostwood NWR.
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) Wabasha Co.; Sherburne; Lida Lake (north); Tamarac NWR; I-94; Arrowwood NWR; Dawson; Cross Ranch SP; White Lake NWR.
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) Widespread in MN, ND; pond along US-85 (SD).
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) Sherburne NWR; Rice Lake NWR; Horsehead Lake. All flying by.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) Medina.
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) Black Dog Lake (1); La Crescent (1); McGregor (1); Cannon River (1). All flew by.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thule) Pearl Lake.
Great Egret (Ardea alba) Minneapolis; Otter Tail CR 24.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Widespread in MN; ND; also near Devils Tower.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Widespread, in MN north to Aitkin Co 18–Grand Marais; most common in WY.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Beaver Creek Valley SP; Sherburne NWR (juv.); Lida Lake; Maplewood SP; Tamarac NWR.
American Harrier (Circus hudsonius) Sherburne NWR; Meadowlands; Sax-Zim Bog; common in ND; Thunder Basin.
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) Sax-Zim Bog, CR 308; St. Louis CR 61; south of Tamarac NWR.
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipter cooperii) Lima Mtn. Rd.; Maplewood SP (2); US-10; East River Rd. (2).
American Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) Rabey Tree Farm (1).
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Winona CR 26 (1).
Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) Savannah Portage SP; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Lima Grade Rd.; Itasca; Cement Ridge Overlook (2).
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) The commonest hawk by far. Also at Chicago O’Hare.
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) A few throughout ND.
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) Dawson (1).
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Gull Lake (1); Devils Tower (1).
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) Common and conspicuous.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) Spearfish Canyon (imm.), FR 220 (ad.). Reintroduction?
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) Sherburne NWR; McGregor.Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)
Rice Lake NWR (1).
Sora (Porzana carolina) Lostwood NWR.
American Coot (Fulica americana) Rice Lake NWR; Lostwood NWR.
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) Horsehead Lake; ND-36.
Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) Horsehead Lake (2 ad.+ 2 imm.); Cross Ranch SP, Plover I. (2); Lostwood NWR (2).
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) Horsehead Lake (1).
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) Common, often on gravel roads.
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) Horsehead Lake; ND-36; I-94 (Jamestown–Valley City).
Western Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) Pearl Lake; Lostwood.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) Arrowwood NWR; I-94 (Jamestown–Valley City).
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) Arrowwood NWR; Dawson; Lostwood NWR; I-94 (Jamestown–Valley City).
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) Sherburne NWR.
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) Jamestown, Pipestem Lake; Cross Ranch SP.
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) Dawson.
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Lima Grade Rd.Medina; Lostwood NWR.
Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) Sax-Zim Bog, grouse lek; Rothsay Prairie; Stutsman Co., 11th Street; Jamestown; Horsehead Lake; Underwood; Lostwood NWR; US-85 (south of Theodore Roosevelt NP).
Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) Dawson; Horsehead Lake.
Franklin’s Gull (Larus pipixcan) US-281 (north of Jamestown); Arrowwood; Pearl Lake; Lostwood; I‑94 (near Jamestown). Often in large numbers.
Bonaparte’s Gull (Larus philadelphia) Garrison, Mille Lacs Lake.
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) Minneapolis; Mille Lacs Lake; Lake Superior; Lida Lake; Maplewood SP; widespread in ND; Thunder Basin.
California Gull (Larus californicus) Arrowwood NWR; Pearl Lake; Lostwood NWR.
American Herring-Gull (Larus smithsonianus) Mille Lacs Lake, Wigwam Bay; Lake Superior (common).
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) Garrison, Mille Lacs Lake (1).
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) Pearl Lake (2).
Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri) Mille Lacs Lake; Lida Lake; Maplewood SP; Tamarac NWR.
Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) Cross Ranch SP, Plover Island (2–4).
(American) Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) Murphy-Hanrehan; La Crescent; Lida Lake; Tamarac NWR; ND (Prairie Potholes).
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) Abundant, even in sage.
Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) Aitkin Co 18 (1); Fond du Lac Indian Reservation (US-210) (1). Both flying by. Not heard.
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) Rice Lake NWR (1).
Barred Owl (Strix varia) Itasca (2); Nerstrand Big Woods (1).
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) Theodore Roosevelt NP (North); Spearfish; Devils Tower.
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) Common in MN.
White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatilis) Spearfish Canyon, FR 220; Devils Tower. Numerous.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) Whitewater SP; Beaver Creek Valley SP; Kellogg-Weaver Dunes; Nerstrand Big Woods; Tamarac NWR; Itasca SP.
Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) Widespread in MN; south of Theodore Roosevelt NP; Spearfish; Roughlock Falls.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) Beaver Creek Valley SP.
Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus) Common in MN, ND.
Red-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus) Rifle Pit Canyon Rd. (intermediate not excluded); Devils Tower.
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) Nerstrand Big Woods; Theodore Roosevelt NP, near campgrounds; Devils Tower (3).
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) Throughout MN. Many nests were found.
Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) Black Hills (where common).
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) Throughout in wooded areas.
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) Throughout in wooded areas.
‘Taiga’ American Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides dorsalis) Lima Mountain Rd. (+). In the most varied tract of forest.
‘Rocky Mountain’ American Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides dorsalis) Black Hills, FR 220 (opp. 1997 Holiday Tree). An area with many dead trees.
Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) Rabey Tree Farm (2); Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave. (1); Lima Mtn. Rd. (2); Lima Grade Rd. (1 male); Itasca, Bohall Trail (2); Black Hills, FR 875 (nest). Only the nest was in a burnt-over area, others were in spruce woods, or dead trees near them.
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryopicus pileatus) Beaver Creek Valley; Rice Lake NWR; Dent; Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) Common.
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) Rothsay Prairie; fairly common in ND, SD, WY.
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) Black Dog Lake; Beaver Creek Valley SP; Maplewood; Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Eastern Wood- Pewee (Contopus virens) Common in MN.
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus) Spearfish Canyon; Devils Tower.
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) Fairly common in MN.
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya) Medora, East River Rd. (2); Crook“s Camp; Thunder Basin.
Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) Common in MN; Cross Ranch SP; Lostwood NWR. Many in song.
Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens) Beaver Creek Valley SP; Nerstrand Big Woods SP (3 ad., 1 imm., 6). Surprisingly common in Nerstrand Big Woods.
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) Black Dog Lake; Anne Gronseth Prairie; Pearl Lake; Lostwood NWR. Low song activity.
Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum) Rice Lake NWR; Lima Grade Rd. (N. Brule River); Cook CR 44; Alice Lake Bog (CR 3). Luckily all in song.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris) South Brule Road; Gunflint Trail, Loon Lake. Difficult to find, most not singing anymore?
Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri) Black Hills, FR 175, US-85, FR 850, Rifle Pit Canyon Rd. Hardly any heard singing: luckily its call is distinctive too.
Cordilleran Flycatcher (Empidonax occidentalis) Black Hills. Many in song, so more conspicuous than Dusky.
I refrained from identifying some well-seen but silent Empidonax flycatchers!
Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) Devils Tower (>35).
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) Throughout in forested areas (incl. Devils Tower).
‘Taiga’ Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave. (north); Lima Mtn. Rd. Noisy family groups.
‘Rocky Mountain’ Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) Rocky Mountain: Black Hills, FR 175 (1). Silent bird, found when looking at juncos! Not white-headed like the form depicted in field guides.
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) Lostwood NWR (2).
American Crow (Corvus americanus) Throughout.
Common Raven (Corvus corax) Savannah Portage SP; Rabey Tree Farm; Grand Marais (where the most common corvid).
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) Benton CR 7 (near Sherburne NWR) (1); Thunder Basin (3).
Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) Beaver Creek SP; Sherburne NWR; Maplewood SP; Tamarac NWR. The birds I saw were not singing.
Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) Lima Mtn. Rd; Lima Grade Rd. In song.
Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeus) Devils Tower. In song.
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) Common to abundant throughout.
Eastern Warbling-Vireo (Vireo gilvus) Black Dog Lake; Murphy-Hanrehan; Theodore Roosevelt NP; Spearfish Canyon; Black Hills, FR 875. Most in song.
Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus) Cook CR 44 (2). In song.
Vireo songs are all quite alike, but their subtle differences should be clear (except for Philadelphia Vireo?).
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) Nerstrand; Dawson; abundant in western ND, SD, WY.
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) Common in MN, ND.
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) Spearfish Canyon, FR 220; Devils Tower. Noisy and numerous.
Purple Martin (Progne subis) Pine River (1).
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia) Wing; Cross Ranch SP.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) Some seen in southeastern MN; ND-36; Cross Ranch SP.
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) Common along (sometimes even under!) roads throughout.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) Common.
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) Common throughout.
Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonica) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Lima Mtn. Rd.; Lima Grade Rd. (south). Sounds more buzzy than the ubiquitous Black-capped. All found in spruce.
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) Seen in many woods in southern MN (from Harry Larson Co. Park); Devils Tower.
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) Savannah Portage SP; Grand Marais; Itasca SP; Black Hills; Devils Tower.
‘Taiga’ Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) Savannah Portage SP (Esker Trail); Rice Lake NWR.
‘Rocky Mountain’ Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) Cement Ridge Overlook; Devils Tower (Finley Ridge Trail).
Northern House-Wren (Troglodytes aedon) Very common.
Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis) Savannah Portage SP; Sax-Zim Bog, CR 308; Lima Mtn. Rd.; Lake Alice Bog (CR 95); Nerstrand Big Woods SP (Maple trail). Many heard singing, but (too) hard to find in spruce forest!
Eastern Marsh-Wren (Cistothorus palustris) Maplewood SP; Arrowwood NWR; Horsehead Lake; Lostwood NWR. Possibly overheard at first. Look in cattails (Typha, reedmace in Britain).
Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis) Black Dog Lake; Sherburne NWR; McGregor; Rice Lake NWR; Aitkin TWP 380; Nerstrand; Horsehead Lake; Lostwood NWR. Common in MN.
Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus) Spearfish Canyon; FR 220. Singing high up on the canyon walls.
Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus) Columnar Cedars; Devils Tower (easy around South Side / southern Red Bed Trails).
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) Savannah Portage SP; Cook Co. FR 336; Black Hills, FR 220. Certainly heard more often.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) Lima Grade Rd. (opp. Bow Lake Rd.) (1); Black Hills (+). Singing in the Black Hills area, not heard in MN.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) Murphy-Hanrehan; Whitewater SP; Beaver Creek Valley SP; Harry Larson Co. Park; Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) Throughout in MN.
Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) Theodore Roosevelt NP (~3); Black Hills, FR 175 (1); Devils Tower.
Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) Black Hills, Roughlock Falls Trail (1), FR 850 (2); Devils Tower.
Wood Thrush (Catharus mustelinus) Beaver Creek Valley SP; Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Veery (Catharus fuscescens) Throughout in forests in MN; Black Hills, FR 220.
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) Oberg Mountain; Lima Mtn. Rd.; Spearfish Canyon.
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) Savannah Portage SP; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Gunflint Trail Area; Lake Alice Bog (CR 95).
Catharus thrushes were commonly heard singing, but seeing them was harder. They will sometimes sit out in the open on the road or on road signs!
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) The most abundant bird?
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) Common and easy to see in MN, less so in ND; Roughlock Falls.
Sage Thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) Thunder Basin, Cellars Loop Rd. Conspicuous.
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) Black Dog Lake; Sherburne NWR; Arrowwood NWR; East River Rd. Song not heard.
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) Roughlock Falls (1–2). A well-known site.
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) Common throughout in MN, ND; Spearfish.
Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii) Lostwood NWR (1).
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus) North Brule River; Grand Marais; Black Hills. Common in Black Hills.
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) Very common.
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) Black Hills, FR 875; Devils Tower. All in Ponderosa Pine.
Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus) Savannah Portage SP; Rice Lake NWR; South Brule River (probably more in Gunflint Area).
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) Itasca, Tallest Red Pine (2); Lake Alice Bog (CR 95) (1). Apparantly, seeing this bird is always a surprise. Found after I heard it call.
Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus) Dawson (1); Horsehead Lake (1); Crook’s Camp (north and east); Thunder Basin (20 mi. west of Newcastle).
Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) Beaver Creek Valley SP (singing); Great River Bluffs SP; Sherburne NWR.
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Theodore Roosevelt NP; East River Rd.; Burning Coal Vein; Spearfish Canyon. Abundant in western ND, many in song.
Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) Kellogg-Weaver Dunes; Sherburne NWR; Rothsay; Arrowwood NWR; Pearl Lake, Lostwood NWR; Theodore Roosevelt NP.
Baird’s Sparrow (Ammodramus bairdii) Lostwood (1). Hard to find, and would be impossible when not singing.
Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii) McGregor; Rice Lake NWR; Sax-Zim Bog, Stone Lake Rd.; Maplewood SP; Rothsay Prairie; Arrowwood NWR; Lostwood NWR. All in song.
Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni) Horsehead Lake (2, more ). All in song.
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) Pearl Lake; Horsehead Lake; Lostwood NWR; Theodore Roosevelt NP; Thunder Basin. Looking for “sparrows with white outer-tail feathers and eye-rings” worked better than searching for a “Song Sparrow-like song”.
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) McGregor; Rothsay Prairie; Nerstrand; Arrowwood NWR; Pearl Lake; Lostwood NWR.
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) A very common bird.
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Gunflint Area; Grand Marais. Maybe also seen in Itasca SP.
Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) Black Dog Lake; McGregor; Maplewood; Anne Gronseth Prairie; Tamarac NWR; Itasca SP; Arrowwood NWR.
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) Kellogg-Weaver Dunes (1); Theodore Roosevelt NP (4); Burning Coal Vein; Thunder Basin; Devils Tower. The bird in MN had a very simple song.
Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla) Widespread in southern MN (north to Maplewood SP); Theodore Roosevelt NP.
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) A very common bird, singing and calling all day.
Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) Sherburne NWR; Rice Lake NWR; Maplewood SP; Rothsay Prairie; Lostwood. Usually common where it occurs.
Brewer’s Sparrow (Spizella breweri) Thunder Basin, Cellars Loop Rd. Easily found by its calls.
Slate-colored Junco (Junco hyemalis) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Oberg Mtn. In song, or noisy family groups.
White-winged Junco (Junco hyemalis) Black Hills; Devils Tower. Many in song, with much more variety than Slate-colored.
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) Savannah Portage SP; Aitkin CR 18; Rabey Tree Farm; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Gunflint Area; Lake Alice Bog. Easily heard singing, most visible along Owl Avenue.
Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys) 25 mi. S of Stanley (,♀); abundant in ND, SD, WY south from Amadon–Belfield.
Dickcissel (Spiza americana) Kellogg-Weaver Dunes (singing); Pearl Lake.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) Black Dog Lake; Rice Lake NWR; Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) Black Hills; Devils Tower. Common in Spearfish Canyon.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Black Dog Lake, Beaver Creek SP, Nerstrand Big Woods SP (and probably elsewhere in SE-MN).
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) Widespread in MN.
Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena) Theodore Roosevelt NP (+); East River Rd.
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) Beaver Creek Valley SP (+); Great River Bluffs SP ; Itasca SP ; Nerstrand Big Woods SP (, 1). Call more distinctive than its song.
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) Cement Ridge Overlook (2,♀); FR 875 (, imm.); Devils Tower .
Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) Murphy-Hanrehan; Whitewater SP; Beaver Creek Valley SP (north entry); Nerstrand Big Woods SP (Hope trail). Only its alternate song was heard, and most birds found were silent.
Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) Sherburne NWR (1); Rice Lake NWR (2, 1). Only singing birds were seen.
Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla) Savannah Portage SP; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Gunflint Area. Common, many in song or calling.
Northern Parula (Parula americana) Savannah Portage SP, Bog Interpretive Trail; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave., CR 308; Gunflint Area. Much variation in song. Calling birds were found as well.
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) Sherburne NWR; Rice Lake NWR; Savannah Portage SP; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.; Cook Co. FR 336; South Brule River; Theodore Roosevelt NP. Most in song.
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens) Oberg Mountain (2). Both in song.
Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea) Murphy-Hanrehan. In song.
Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca) Savannah Portage SP; Rabey Tree Farm; South Brule Rd. In song.
Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) Common in MN; Cross Ranch SP; Theodore Roosevelt NP; Spearfish; Devils Tower.
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica) Common throughout woods of northern MN, south to Murphy-Hanrehan.
Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina) Rabey Tree Farm . Only heard calling.
Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia) Lima Mountain Rd.; Lima Grade Rd.; Cook Co. FR 336. Many in song, but also seen fouraging close to the ground.
Myrtle Warbler (Dendroica coronata) Rabey Tree Farm; Savannah Portage SP; Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave. Many in song.
Audubon’s Warbler (Dendroica auduboni) Black Hills; Devils Tower. Not too many in song; various family groups.
Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens) Savannah Portage SP; Lima Grade Rd.; Grand Marais ; Oberg Mtn. (+); Split Rock Lighthouse; Itasca SP. Very hard to see when singing, and apparently rather quiet otherwise.
Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus) Savannah Portage SP; Tamarac NWR; Itasca SP. Many in song.
(Brown) Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave. (, ). Both birds in song.
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) Common throughout in MN; Theodore Roosevelt SP, campsite; Spearfish Canyon. Hard to see when singing, but calling birds are easy.
Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla) Beaver Creek Valley SP, Steep Rock Trail (1). Calling from a tree.
Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis) Lima Grade Road, north (1); South Brule River (1). Both in song.
Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis) South Brule River (all in song).
Mourning Warbler (Oporornis philadelphia) Sherburne NWR; Lima Grade Rd. (N. Brule River); Oberg Mtn.; Itasca SP (Bohall Trail). Most birds found were calling; only two were heard singing (but not seen).
MacGillivray’s Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei) FR 220 . In song.
Connecticut Warbler (Oporornis agilis) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave. (2, 2). All in song.
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) Common to abundant in wooded habitat throughout.
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) Very common and conspicuous.
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) Theodore Roosevelt NP North (2, 2); Burning Coal Vein (2). All in song.
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) McGregor; Aitkin TWP 380; Rothsay; Arrowwood; Pearl Lake.
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) Great River Bluffs SP; Kellogg-Weaver Dunes; Aitkin TWP 380; Nerstrand.
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) Rothsay Prairie; common in ND, SD, WY.
Not all meadowlarks in MN were identified, so I may well have missed some Western in the east!
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) Sherburne NWR ; abundant around the eastern Prairie Potholes in ND, far less obvious in northwest.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) Very common.
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) McGregor; I-94 (Valley City–Jamestown). A remarkably hard-to-find bird.
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Common in MN, ND, less so in SD, WY.
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) Very common.
Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) Jamestown, near Pipestem Lake .
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) Beaver Creek Valley SP; La Crescent; Maplewood SP; Anne Gronseth Prairie.
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii) Theodore Roosevelt NP (prob. imm.); Devils Tower, campsite (family group).
And for those who do care about introductions:
Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) Rothsay Prairie .
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallipavo) Faribault (I-94) (1); Theodore Roosevelt NP; East River Rd.
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) Best setting: Devils Tower
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) Richfield MN; Stanley ND. A town bird, probably derived from the introduced eastern population.
Mammals and their traces
Shrew (Sorex/Blarina) Savannah Portage SP
(near Lake Shumway).
Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) Traces: Beaver Creek Valley SP; Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Bats (Vespertilionidae) Various seen.
Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) Devils Tower.
Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) Fairly common in MN; Theodore Roosevelt NP; Black Hills (probably).
Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus) Grand Marais (campgrounds); Black Hills; Devils Tower.
Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) Common in MN.
Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris) Black Hills, FR 220 (2).
Woodchuck (Marmota monax) Beaver Creek Valley SP (campgrounds) (1).
Richardson’s Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii) ND.
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) Throughout.
Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) Theodore Roosevelt NP; Thunder Basin; Devils Tower.
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) A few in MN.
Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) Nerstrand Big Woods SP.
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) The common squirrel; very noisy! Also seen at sapsucker feeding holes.
Northern Pocket Gopher (Thomomys talpoides) ND-8, near Lostwood NWR (1).
American Beaver (Castor canadensis) Savannah Portage SP (3); dams throughout northern MN; Theodore Roosevelt NP; Black Hills.
Common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) Lima Grade Rd.; Maplewood SP.
Common Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) Feeding traces: Devils Tower (plentiful).
Coyote (Canis latrans) Lostwood NWR (1).
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) Savannah Portage SP (1).
Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Tracks: Rabey Tree Farm.
Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Nerstrand Big Woods SP (4).
Mink (Mustela vison) Roadkill.
American Badger (Taxidea taxus) Roadkill.
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) Rothsay Prairie (1); many roadkills (a smell to remember).
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) Theodore Roosevelt NP; Black Hills; Thunder Basin; Devils Tower.
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Very common traffic hazard.
Moose (Alces alces) Tracks: Lima Mtn. Road; Lima Grade Rd.
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) Theodore Roosevelt NP (10); Very common in Northwestern ND and Thunder Basin.
American Bison (Bos bison) Reintroduced: Theodore Roosevelt NP (many).
Amphibians and reptiles
Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pretiosa) La Crescent;
Aitkin TWP 380; many heard throughout MN.
Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) Northern MN, south to Harry Larson Co. Park.
American Toad (Bufo americanus) Beaver Creek Valley SP; Harry Larson Co. Park.
Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) Savannah Portage SP; Maplewood SP.
Turtle (Emydidae) La Crescent; looked most like Blanding’s Turtle.
Eastern Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassii) Columnar Cedars.
Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer) Devils Tower.
Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) Harry Larson Co. Park (2).
Many sulphurs, fritillaries and skippers (the most
interesting group in prairies…) were left unidentified.
Phoebus Parnassian (Parnassius phoebus) Cement Ridge.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis)
Mustard White (Pieris napi)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
Pink-edged Sulphur (Colias interior) Sax-Zim Bog, Arkola Rd.
‘Siva’ Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) Columnar Cedars (1).
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) Lima Grade Rd.; Black Hills
Northern Blue (Lycaeides idas) Lima Grade Rd.
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia) Lima Grade Rd.
Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
Gray Comma (Polygonia progne) Beaver Creek Valley SP.
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) Beaver Creek Valley SP.
Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) Beaver Creek Valley SP.
Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela)
Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)
Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)
Small Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis oetus)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) Murphy-Hanrehan.
Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) Lima Grade Rd.
Pahaska Skipper (Hesperia pahaska) Devils Tower.
Long Dash (Polites mystic) Sax-Zim Bog, Owl Ave.
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris) Devils Tower.
Strecker’s Giant-Skipper (Megathymus streckeri) Thunder Basin, Cellars Loop Rd. Look for yucca!