phil jeffrey:: MN-ND-MT-WY-SD trip report



Painted Canyon, North Dakota Jenny Lake Lark Bunting Taggart Lake
Gallery for aggregated trip photos is at http://www.catharus.com/gallery2/v/MN-ND-WY.
Click on any of the small images in the text below and the corresponding gallery page will open.

This is an incomplete version of the trip report for my epic trip across Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota from June 10th-23rd 2009. Although in principle this was a "Prairie Pothole" trip, it became obvious that I could wedge both Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons into a longer loop trip. Since I had been to neither of these places and have a natural affinity for western montane environments I added them at the expense of dragging the trip out to two weeks in length. The other thing is that I had only one prairie life bird of any significance (Baird's Sparrow), one introduced agricultural one (Gray Partridge) and the rest were montane or boreal birds (Ruffed Grouse, Blue Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker). I had no realistic chance at Yellow Rail on this trip because I do not count heard-only birds. In the schedule Minnesota was given fairly short shrift, and was really on there because flying into Minneapolis was more practical (non-stop from PHL) than other options where I'd pretty much have to change planes in MN anyway. A more linear route of flying into Denver and flying out of Minneapolis may have worked slightly better, however, and reduced the gas-hungry total of 5,500 miles. Those rental car companies have got to love people like me.

Life target list:

Secondary list:

Species

After the trip I have the following observations to make about ND birds:

Maps

RBAs

Prior Trip Reports

The Europeans and the prolific Stuart Healey (ex-pat Brit) are pretty much holding down the fort on trip reports, which are otherwise thin on the ground. This is one reason that I was particularly motivated to put this trip report on line because I ended up doing a LOT of pre-trip research.

Books

I used the following books for trip planning, but limited myself to bringing only the MN and WY guides and making scans/photocopies of small parts of the other one to keep the weight and bulk down. As it was my bag checked in at 49.5 lbs after a bit of hasty repacking on the outward leg.

Distances

Distances and timings via Google maps. In some cases Google directions are very pessimistic (e.g. 2 hours from Duluth to Sax, MN when it is closer to half that time). This should give you an idea of the scale of the place.

Sunrise, Sunset

All times for June 15th 2009. Both Mountain and Central time zones are in play. MDT is sw.ND, w.SD (Rapid City), MT, WY. CDT is MN, e.SD, most of ND (Minot, Bismarck). There's actually not a lot of light around at 9pm, so effective sunset is probably up to an hour earlier if you're doing any sort of photography.

Trip Report

In what follows I use the cryptic style of (species name) when I want to refer to a bird that I heard only. Rather than track down every single bird in these sort of trips I made a strategic decision to not chase some because of time and knowledge of Eastern passerine song, which helped a lot especially in MN and eastern ND. Also to be frank, I don't really care if I saw Ovenbird or Northern Waterthrush on these trips or not - I see lots of them every year and the point of the trip is to see something different. (I'm aware this is heresey to some).

Wed June 10th: Minneapolis - Duluth, ~350 miles

A relatively uneventful flight landed in Minneapolis with heavy overcast progressing into rain. As I drove north on I-35 the rain cleared to a partially cloudy sky. Interstate birding wasn't all bad: two Bald Eagles, Great Blue Heron and Green Heron were the most interesting ones. Along MN-27 west of Moose Lake I added Eastern Bluebird, a fly-by Cuckoo (perhaps Black-billed) and Pileated Woodpecker.

The good thing was that the sky had cleared by the time I made the first stop at Rice Lake NWR. The bad thing was that it was already 11am and breezy - nevertheless quite a few birds were singing and I birded there for two hours from 11am-1pm. Sedge Wren, (Golden-winged Warbler), (Clay-colored Sparrow) were the most interesting ones. Many species I just heard and chose not to spend 15 minutes trying to find: (Ovenbird), (Northern Parula), (Least Flycatcher), (Yellow-throated Vireo). Nice extras were Black Tern and Common Nighthawk, the latter the only one for the trip. Savannah and Song Sparrows were common, as were Common Yellowthroat and Alder Flycatcher. The lake itself was quiet with a few Bufflehead, Ring-necked Ducks and Mallard. The passerine species were classical eastern deciduous - in addition to the heard-onlies I actually did see Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler and Bobolink.

Eastern Kingbird Then I went to nearby Aitkin Twp Road 380 where I saw more Bobolink, Savannah and Song Sparrows but no Ammodramus sparrows, before heading for Sax-Zim Bog via a winding road that paralleled the west side of the Mississippi River and passed through more grasslands containing Bobolinks and one or two (Sedge Wrens). The Sax-Zim Bog was a mixed bag, given it was later in the day with a decent breeze. Nashville Warblers were numerous as were Common Yellowthroats and Alder Flycatchers. I birded Blue Spruce Road east of Meadowlands and turned up Black-and-white Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. In farm fields off Arkola Rd while failing to find either Sharp-tailed Grouse or Upland Sandpiper I saw a small flock of Brewer's Blackbirds. Up McDavitt Rd around sunset while waiting to see if the Great Gray Owl would put in an appearance I saw a fairly tame Broad-winged Hawk. Bobolinks were widespread in the grassier fields and Sedge Wren was in the scrubbier areas.

Overnight at Motel 6 in Duluth, MN.

Thursday June 11th - Duluth MN to Jamestown ND, ~560 miles

Mourning Warbler My body had other ideas when I woke it up at 3:30am to go looking for Yellow Rails, so instead a more sedate 6am departure from Duluth saw me headed for Sax-Zim bog, getting there at 7am just as the sun emerged from the overcast and the weather cleared. Surely this good weather karma was going to come to a nasty end soon. I started at Blue Spruce Rd, where activity was unsurprisingly better than the previous afternoon. Yellow-rumped Warblers, heard then seen Hermit Thrushes and a singing male Blackburnian Warbler were good starts, then male and female Purple Finch, a singing Mourning Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Eastern Phoebe at the bridge. I heard Veery singing and calling. A Broad-winged Hawk was drying out in the early morning sun. Chestnut-sided Warbler, Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Wood-Pewee were on the west side of this loop and another Mourning Warbler was heard.

After Blue Spruce Rd I revisited the meadows on Rt.29 north of Meadowlands but had no success with Le Conte's Sparrow, didn't manage to be totally certain I was seeing the singing (Eastern Meadowlark), and headed up Owl Ave to the intersection with Mottonen Rd stopping briefly to track down a Clay-colored Sparrow en route. Like magic, I heard a somewhat distant (Connecticut Warbler) to the west of Owl Ave at Mottonen along with Magnolia Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Nashville Warbler. Half a mile to the north a Mourning Warbler was singing with the right pitch but a Connecticut Warbler cadence. Some confusion was cleared up when I actually saw the bird which turned out to be a Mourning Warbler. Along Arkola Road I added Olive-sided Flycatcher - initial qualms about relative size were abated once one of the ubiquitous Alder Flycatchers perched just below it.

Then north along McDavitt Rd where I stopped briefly at the conifer bog ~3 mi north of Sax Rd to listen to a Black-and-white Warbler song, then saw Boreal Chickadee and hung out there long enough to hear a very strange Woodpecker call. Non Hairy-like. I'd already done some research on the relative calls (and disagree with Sibley's descriptions of them). Advancing down the road on the suspicion that it could be Black-backed, I saw a male Black-backed Woodpecker fly past me down McDavitt and into the forest. No luck on further searching, but this was an eye-level view of a roadside fly-by so pretty much unambiguous. I struck out on a possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher that I couldn't see, and further searching of reported Connecticut Warbler spots turned up nothing. By now it was noon, however and it was time to head west. I think Connecticut Warbler was reported from this section of Owl Ave around the same time as I was there, but I certainly didn't hear it.

Trumpeter Swan I started the long drive south west in which I skipped the optional site of Itasca SP (BBWP spot), but cut through Tamarack NWR where the birding drive held Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon and a host of eastern deciduous species including (Yellow Warbler), (American Redstart), (Veery), (Great-crested Flycatcher), Least Flycatcher, (Northern Parula) etc. I didn't spend much time walking the drive to find most of the species since I was on a tight schedule. Exiting Tamarack it was just some quick road miles down out of the deciduous rolling hills around Detroit Lakes and into the very flat agricultural land beyond Fergus Falls. I crossed into ND via Breckenridge, adding Horned Lark as the last MN bird.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Entering ND at Wahepton, House Sparrow, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, Killdeer, and other roadside birds started out my ND list. I followed ND-13 out to Milnor, located the uninspiring rest area referenced by the Zen & Art of Motorcycle Maintenance fandom, but at the nearby pond on the south side of town added prairie birds quickly: Black Tern, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Canvasback, Redhead, American Coot, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Savannah Sparrow. Going through Milnor I saw Chipping Sparrow and heard (Chimney Swifts). Going north out of Milnor I went east on 75th for 6 mi east of (Route 10?) then 2 miles north to the Nature Conservancy wetlands at Sheyenne National Grasslands for Upland Sandpiper and Marbled Godwit but I didn't find any Le Conte's or Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows. I think this is the area of Brown Ranch but I didn't attempt to find it. Further north still along ?10? I added Grasshopper Sparrow and Western Meadowlark at the grasslands trail parking lot but since there was a dog hanging around it was difficult to approach them.

As night fell I started the long trek to Jamestown where I stayed at a very budget motel.

Friday June 12th - Jamestown to Bottineau, ~420 miles

Left Jamestown at 6am following the Jamestown-Chase Lake birding drive, and was amazed at all sorts of waterfowl on the road, in the fields and especially in numerous road-side ponds. I also found Marbled Godwit, Franklin's and California Gulls and an out-of-place American Bittern wandering around out in the open at the side of a large lake. This was the first of four American Bitterns on the trip. All the usual ducks were present and also less numerous American Wigeon and Black Terns, and there were a few Wilsons Phalaropes and White-rumped Sandpipers. Some Brewer's Blackbirds were present in addition to common ones, numerous Savannah Sparrows, and Clay-colored and Song Sparrows, with Western Meadowlark. Sedge Wren was present in a few areas and Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler and a single Sage Thrasher were found in a small shrubby section. Sage Thrasher turns out to be a ND bird record committee review species, although the range maps for Sibley didn't make it look all that rare so I didn't snap a distant pic of it. Ah well. I did submit the record. The Birds of North America Online range maps show ND lying outside the extreme north-east edge of the breeding range, which explains why I saw them in WY rather more readily.

I added Western Grebe at a large lake near the entrance to Chase Lake NWR where the causeway had young Killdeer and young Marbled Godwit. The adult Killdeer was performing the broken wing display but the Godwits were less hands-on about protecting their somewhat confused juvenile. Both fledgelings were in the road and getting past them was nerve-wracking. Black-backed Night-Herons were in some ponds and I saw fly-by Great Egret and Snowy Egret near Chase Lake, with the latter two not billed as exactly common in ND - perhaps the influence of a wet year or out-of-date bird lists. The road into Chase Lake NWR was in good condition but the grass in the middle of the track scraped against the underside of the car. It's not easy to find places to turn around along this road and it would be extra fun to meet someone coming in the other direction. I saw Clay-colored Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow and several Grasshopper Sparrows but a notable absence of Baird's or Sprague's Pipit which were the main targets for this place. American White Pelicans were fly-overs.

By now it was late morning and getting too hot to be good for finding much. Checking the area around the nearby Chicago Lake added nothing (previous ND list report suggested this was useful) Crop dusting was happening nearby which didn't help but the time of day was the killer.

In the heat of the day I drove west to Tuttle where the marsh east of town had American Avocet, Green-winged Teal, more Wilson's Phalaropes and White-rumped Sandpipers as well as the usual suspects in the duck department. There were a couple of Chestnut-collared Longspurs in state land used for grazing south-east of town, Orchard Oriole west of town and Josephine Lake had Double-crested Cormorants, Forster's Tern and Willet. Grasslands had Red-tailed Hawk and Northern Harrier but raptor numbers were pretty low and American Kestrels were conspicuous by their absence, especially compared to MN where they were quite numerous.

I then drove a fair distance due north to Bottineau and the Turtle Mountains finding Red-necked Grebes, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler at School Section lake and other heard several other eastern deciduous birds (Common Raven, Least Flycatcher, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush were all heard). Black-billed Magpie was a nice addition. Heavy rain in the Turtle Mountains abruptly truncated birding there so I headed back down to the plains. Down to Bottineau to check in at the Super8 and then to J. Clark Salyer NWR where Eared Grebe was fairly common and there were all sorts of ducks including American Wigeon, lots of blackbirds, Tricolored Heron (ND review list), Black-crowned Night-Heron, the motherload of Franklin's Gulls hunting over the marsh, many vocal Marsh Wrens, Black Tern and Forster's Tern. An American Bittern was at the side of the auto tour trail but slunk back into the reeds as I approached. Apparently the Le Conte's habitat here is flooded but I failed to find the recently-reported Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows either. The nearby Grasslands Section west of Kramer held Western Meadowlark, Bobolink, Savannah and Clay-colored Sparrows. The gate was open but the road closed off 1 mile in making for an "interesting" U-turn in the narrow grassy track. Stuart Healey reported one Baird's that was difficult to find in this section around the same time, but given that Baird's are a lot easier in Lostwood this grassland did not seem that productive.

Overnight Super8 at Bottineau.

Saturday June 13th - Bottineau to Minot, ~340 miles

Brewer's Blackbird I started early at the road north of Lords Lake NWR, finding Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows almost immediately, and while striking out yet again on Le Conte's and Nelsons's I first heard then tracked down a singing Baird's Sparrow - most unexpected. The habitat seemed rather more lush than I would have associated with Baird's but perhaps it was the best compromise for that area. The bird was distant so plumage details were useless beyond the fact that it had a little streaking and didn't appear to be an orange-ish Ammodramus, but I could watch it sing in the scope and hear the song with a half-second delay. A life bird that got put on the "better view desired" list immediately. There were one or two Sharp-tailed Grouse along the road and Marbled Godwit. There were a few ducks including Bufflehead on Lords Lake itself. Driving down a few agricultural roads west of Bottineau I did not find any Gray Partidge, but after checking out of the hotel and taking back roads toward J. Clark Salyer NWR I found two Gray Partridges a few miles north-east of Kramer after I stopped to take photos of Franklin's Gulls. This was near one of the small grain silos that dot the area. However given the amount of back-road driving I did, seeing only two was not an outstanding total. These were also the only two for the entire trip. Two life birds for the morning. Not bad.

I walked into the Clark Salyer NWR grasslands section for half a mile but it was relatively quiet with just Bobolink and Savannah Sparrow and the most interesting birds were two fly-by American Bitterns. On the auto tour through the reserve I added pretty much the same birds as the previous day: Black and Forster's Tern, White-faced Ibis, Marsh and (Sedge) Wrens, Willow and Least Flycatchers, Sora. I walked into the sandhill section and wadered around, finding Eastern Bluebird, Veery, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Lark Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, (Warbling Vireo), (Ovenbird), Cedar Waxwings, Yellow Warbler and House Wren. There was also a Bald Eagle on the nest a little east of this section. Biting insects were only bad in the dark areas of riparian woodland.

En route south and west to Minot I added another Sharp-tailed Grouse and Upland Sandpiper but precious little else of interest despite a fair amount of driving on back roads. I took lunch at Minot, and checked into an uninspiring but entirely adequate Super8. North out of Minot I went first to Upper Souris NWR which had Purple Martin, Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler and Warbling Vireo at the HQ but very little along the auto loop to detain me. Then west to Carpio and US-52 north to Kenmare where I found the Des Lacs NWR visitor center offering very little information as to the tour loop, so I had to rely on road signs. The loop is more of a linear drive along a narrow road of variable quality and only intermittent view of the water, but there were many Eared and some Western Grebes, many waterfowl, a lot of Clay-colored Sparrows and Yellow Warblers along the road with a few Marsh Wrens down by the water. I saw a bird that might have been a Bullock's Oriole, and also a Broad-winged Hawk blasting through the canopy.

Finally I made it to Lostwood NWR in more favorable light in later afternoon. Savannah, Vesper and Clay-colored Sparrows were fairly numerous with especially the Vespers fond of feeding in the road. A couple of Marbled Godwits dive-bombed my car, Willets were less assertive and there were Wilson's Phalarope on the first pond. On the larger alkaline lake were American Avocet, more Phalaropes and Piping Plover. Two local birders scouting for the upcoming ABA convention in Minot (that I was anxious to avoid because I loathe birding crowds) told me about some relatively retiring Nelsons Sharp-tailed Sparrows in the wet marsh downhill from the fire tower that actually sang for us after a little wait. I also saw/heard 2-3 Bairds including one seen well near the grouse blind (stop #11). I also saw another Ammodramus sparrow that was probably a Le Conte's but too briefly to be certain about it. Sprague's Pipits were neither seen nor singing at that time of day.

Overnight Minot (but should have stayed in Kenmare).

Sunday June 14th - Minot to Glendive MT, ~380 miles

Nelson's Sparrow I went to Lostwood NWR at dawn. Baird's Sparrow was singing elusively but there were several individuals from points #11 to #14. Sprague's Pipits were also around the grouse blind but took some finding until I adopted the old Skylark technique of gridding the sky when they weren't nearly as impossible to find with binoculars. Pretty invisible to the naked eye. There were two more Sprague's at the Fire Tower. Grasshopper, Clay-colored, Savannah, Vesper and Song Sparrows were also in evidence, with Least and Willow Flycatchers plus Warbling Vireos at the willow and alder patches. The two singing Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows were still present at the marsh below the fire tower but once again there were no traces of Le Conte's. One of the Nelson's was uncharacteristically cooperative and sat on a reed-covered barbed wire fence while singing. Contrary to what you might think, I did not tape this bird in, but the competition between the singing males and the ability to sit on location for an extended time without other birders around certainly were factors. Even on a Sunday Lostwood is largely deserted.


Exiting Lostwood, I went west to Lake Zahl NWR where I found Clay-colored, Grasshopper, (Baird's) Sparrows and Sprague's Pipit - the latter two obviously quite widespread in the right habitat. At nearby Alkali Lake there was a FWS staff member walking the shore line so I put up with distant American Avocet and Wilson's Phalarope views.

Painted Canyon Then south to Roosevelt National Park north section after lunch in Watford City. Conditions were windy and hot so I saw relatively little although it was obvious there was a transition to more western species: Western Meadowlark, singing Lazuli Bunting, singing Spotted Towhee and a few Buffalo. There was a Wood Duck in the flooded woodland bottomland, although at least this was better habitat than the one I saw in a small flooded woodland in the middle of the prairie on the way to Chase Lake two days previously. Because of lack of enthusiasm, conditions and the necessary road miles I skipped the secondary sites around Shirley, MT and headed straight to Glendive, MT via US-85 and I-94 and a scenery stop at Painted Canyon, just west of Belfield and part of the southern section of Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Overnight at Super8 in Glendive.

Monday June 15th - Glendive MT to Red Lodge MT, ~460 miles

Mountain Bluebird Mostly a long drive day, I started at Makoshika State Park in the badlands just to the south of Glendive. There I found a nice variety of birds in overcast conditions: Mountain Bluebird, House Finch, Rock Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Grasshopper, Chipping, Vesper, Field and Lark Sparrows, American Robin, Prairie Falcon flying up valley, two Wild Turkeys, Spotted Towhee, Western Meadowlark and Say's phoebe.

The forecast called for patchy sun with thunderstorms and this was certainly the case with large storms dropping water across the landscape with sunny intervals in between them. I headed south-west along I-94 for a bit of long-haul driving. En route there were a few Lark Buntings and a couple of American Kestrels. Stopping outside Miles City at Strawberry Hill BLM I found the usual suspects: Brewer's Blackbird, (Yellow Warbler), Spotted Towhee, Lazuli Bunting. Further driving west on I-94 and then I-90 I finally turned south into the river valley toward Red Lodge, seeing American Kestrel and Northern Flicker along this riparian route and Pine Siskin as I checked into Yodeler Motel in Red Lodge. This small town reminded me a little of Steamboat CO and was clearly geared up to cater to the winter ski trade with a ski lift up to Beartooth Pass to the south. In fact after checking in I headed up there myself.

Black Rosy-Finch Up toward Beartooth Pass I hit my first montane habitat of the trip and added Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee and Common Raven to the MT list at the Rock Creek Vista, then Black Rosy-Finch, American Pipit and Horned Lark just before the east summit on the MT side of the state line. The Rosy-Finches were fairly numerous (30+) feeding in the melting snow fields. Later I added Black Rosy-Finch and American Pipit on the west side of the west summit to the WY list. There was a decent amount of snow present, with snow walls up to 10 feet in places and snow persisting down into the "Top of the World" alpine area in WY down off the west summit. Two Red-tailed Hawks were in this valley. Several lakes were still at least partially frozen. Beartooth Lake was barely unfrozen but the campsite road was closed and not particularly productive as a walk-in. In fact many facilities like campsites were closed in this particular National Forest (Shoshone?). The storms appeared to be gathering in greater numbers and it was relatively cool and wet. Down into the very small and rustic Cooke City the road deteriorated just west of there, so I turned around just shy of the Yellowstone north-east entrance where it looked like the weather was closing in. Trying to avoid the storm I headed quickly back east to the junction with Chief Joseph highway where rain storms appeared to be converging. I made rapid stops at sagebrush and aspen areas along the road as I made my way back toward Beartooth Pass, seeing Hairy Woodpecker, American Robin, White-crowned Sparrow, Empidonax sp (probably Dusky), and Mountain Bluebird. Further east at a bog were Green-winged Teal, Mallard, American Robin, Mountain Chickadee, (Hermit Thrush) and full breeding-plumaged male Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler. I made it back over the pass in a snow storm and then down quickly into Red Lodge for the night.

Tuesday June 16th - Red Lodge MT to Jackson WY via Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, ~290 miles

Starting from Red Lodge MT at 6:35 am I climbed quickly (well, OK, the car did) toward Beartooth Pass again. The only thing at Rock Creek Vista was a Common Raven. It was sunny at the summit, but just American Pipit and Horned Lark were seen from the state line through the West Summit - there were no Rosy-Finches! Immediately beyond the west summit it was down into cloud, partially clearing around Top of the World with American Pipit and several White-crowned Sparrows. Pine Grosbeak was heard then seen briefly in this open Alpine area, together with Dark-eyed Junco (pink-sided). Further down at Beartooth Lake there was surveying in progress so I didn't walk in along the closed road, but Gray Jay was at the roadside stop nearby. There was a veritable torrent emptying from the south side of the lake - a combination of meltwater and rain. Further down the road a little I revisited the bog from the previous day, finding much the same species with Mountain Bluebird, Dark-eyed Junco (pink-sided), Green-winged Teal, Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler.

After a few uneventful stops at alder grove sites I drove through Cooke City MT, and was delayed by traffic construction into Yellowstone NP's north-east entrance. At least I got to watch a White-crowned Sparrow hop along the road as I waited. A ranger saved us some time by checking passes etc as we waited and I learnt from him about a Great Gray Owl that was being seen at Floating Island Lake - doubtless dawn or dusk would have been the best time to look for this bird. Once through the entrance gate there was a veritable convoy downhill so I baled out at the Pebble Creek trail pullout and a short walk through sagebrush next to a conifer forest yielded Green-tailed Towhee, Warbling Vireo (finally saw one), (Ruby-crowned Kinglet). I saw a single male Common Merganser along Soda Butte Creek. Vesper Sparrow was in the valley as it opened up into sagebrush but I didn't find Brewer's Sparrow.

Many Buffalo were present as the Lamar Valley widened, including a group that crossed the road at Soda Butte itself followed by a flock of Brewer's Blackbirds. I saw one Pronghorn that had not yet attracted attention, which was somewhat of a miracle given the general human behavior in Yellowstone. At the next pullout the Cliff Swallows were nesting at the restrooms and Bank Swallows flew by. There were a remarkable number of Buffalo littered across this broad grassy valley (Lamar Valley), Common Raven wandered up and down the valley and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks were seen near Slough Creek. While searching unsuccessfully for Brewer's Sparrow I did at least turn up Sage Thrasher, and while failing to find Goldeneyes I saw a Spotted Sandpiper and a few E. Starlings. The first Osprey of the trip flew overhead calling. Cinnamon Teal was found in a couple of the calmer areas along the river.

I took the side road to Slough Creek campground and at the pullout overlooking the creek saw Green-winged Teal, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Black-backed Magpie, a female Goldeneye sp. with a dark bill (see later - Barrow's females have dark bills at the height of breeding plumage), a sleeping swan (should be Trumpeter) and American Wigeon.

A little further along the Slough Creek road, but short of the campground, I took a trail along a small stream which turned out to be very productive. Several vocal Pine Siskins and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers were the first finds. Then a large raptor drew my interest, and I was overjoyed to find it was an adult Northern Goshawk which had prey in its talons but was in no apparent hurry and was in full view circling for several minutes. Lincoln's Sparrow, Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Warbling Vireo and Cassin's Finch were also present. I gave up on the trail when a storm rolled in. There was an Empidonax here that could have been either Hammond's, Cordilleran or Dusky but it was totally silent and I had no desire to open that can of worms with so little recent experience with them in a habitat which could suit any of the three.

Traveling down the river I didn't find anything else new, and at Tower Junction I headed west toward Gardiner to check out Floating Island Lake, where indeed there was a floating island and a Sandhill Crane nesting on it ! Then I pulled out at Blacktail Plateau Drive and found it closed. Nevertheless I parked and walked in for a while and saw Williamson's Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco. More interesting were three Coyotes that loped along 100 yards away and largely ignored me. I turned around on the road when it became somewhat obvious that no other alder groves were appearing, but before I did I managed to find a Dusky Flycatcher. The human behavior at Yellowstone is fundementally parasitic, where the traffic slows to a halt whenever someone appears to have found something interesting, and all sorts of gratuitously touristic behavior then manifests. This can reach silly heights, and I precipitated one myself with the help of a British (presumed) birding group. At the start I was the only one parked at the start of the closed Blacktail Drive, and then the British group van parked behind me. I bumped into them walking up the trail as I walked back down it as they were engrossed in examining some Wolf scat. This number of people precipitated the "must be something good" parasitic behavior where suddenly all sorts of tourists pulled off the road and wandered up to me asking what was there. Clearly this is the way to go if you want to perpetrate a full-blown hoax (claiming a Grizzly 300 yards up the trail would be an excellent story). Nevertheless this sort of behavior is not idyllic and might be viewed by some (e.g. me) as farcical.

Returning to Tower Junction I headed south toward Canyon, and apparently everyone else had the same idea, with many pullouts jammed with cars, and one "bear jam" where two Black Bears (a brown-colored one was being mis-ID'd as a Grizzly). So I skipped the worst of them (e.g. Tower Falls) that were swarming with tourists. I got a very late lunch at Canyon and carried on south toward Hayden Valley. There weren't many big mammals there, and the Yellowstone River that drained Yellowstone Lake looked swollen and fast upstream of the canyon falls near Canyon. I noticed Western Grebe from the roadside. In a wider section in Hayden Valley a few American Avocet and Wilson's Phalarope were present along with California Gull. There were decent numbers of Canada Geese. But I wasn't finding any Goldeneyes.

Finally I made it to Yellowstone Lake and found a pullout where a flock of male, immature male and one or two apparent female Barrow's Goldeneye's were feeding. The "females" had all dark bills so I'm not sure of both their gender and the reliability of that ID feature - allegedly Barrow's have small yellow bills as females. A few Scaup sp. and a pair of Buffleheads were also present. I carried on through to Grand Teton NP in the face of time marching on, storms wandering around the mountain valleys, more road construction and a growing sense of exhaustion. Finally reaching Grand Teton NP I saw an American White Pelican below the dam. The small lake nearby was closed because of Trumpeter Swan breeding activity with no clear visibility from the road. I actually got better Trumpeter Swan views in MN this trip than in WY. I drove up Signal Mtn in search of the elusive Dusky Grouse. No Grouse, but there were Rock Wren, Western Tanager, (Swainson's Thrush), (Hermit Thrush), (Ruby-crowned Kinglet), Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler, a single Townsend's Solitaire and Red-tailed Hawk as dusk fell.

Overnight (and some laundry) at one of the better Motel6's I stayed at all trip, in Jackson, with a price tag to match ($75). Jackson's a good tourist town with many restaurant options and lurks as a triplet with Red Lodge (MT) and Steamboat (CO) as places that might be good to explore when not on some crazy birding trip. The 20-something check-in clerk at the Motel6 asked me if I was a member of AARP, so it was possible that the successive early mornings were getting to me. (I was 45 when I took this trip).

Wednesday June 17th - Grand Teton NP, ~170 miles

Early at Signal Mountain, I found no Dusky (Blue) Grouse (0/1 targets for the day) and only a subset of the previous evening's species, but got a bonus in the form of 40+ Crossbills, mostly White-winged but also at least a couple of Red Crossbills moving in a rapid feeding flock through the pines at the summit. Pine Siskins flew in to join the mobile foraging group. Olive-sided Flycatcher was hunting on the slopes below. In retrospect listening for Dusky Grouse song is a waste of time since I can barely hear it when I'm standing 50 feet from the bird.

Taggart Lake Down to the Jenny Lake scenic drive to take advantage of the sunny morning, I then hiked the trail to Taggart Lake through some very promising habitat for Ruffed Grouse - finding Yellow Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher, (Western Wood-Pewee), several Chipping Sparrows, Pine Siskin, displaying Broad-tailed Hummingbird. The trail crossed two streams and paralleled the second one up through the alders to an open scrubbier patch for another Dusky Flycatcher, then into a young pine grove (post-burn) for Clark's Nutcracher, (Swainson's Thrush), Dark-eyed Junco until it reached Taggart Lake - where Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes were singing, and a Coyote was encountered jogging down the trail.

Returning back down the trail I found the same species and more hikers, so I completed my second strike-out for the morning on grouse. I went to the Jenny Lake Burn which had pretty much no woodpeckers except a few Northern Flickers, one American Kestrel, Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows, MacGillivray's Warbler, Brown Creeper, Western Wood-Pewee, (Olive-sided Flycatcher), Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, a fly by immature Bald Eagle, an Osprey nest, and a few Common Mergansers along the lake. That's a good list, bracketed either side of a short hail storm from one of the storms that continued the stormy-and-sunny trend of the previous day. However the actual target was woodpeckers, and I only heard two Hairies. This might reflect the fact that it's not a recent burn, so that it's "played out", or that I should have started there first rather than mid-morning.

Back toward Jackson I saw Trumpeter Swan, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck at the river overlook on the north side of town. After lunch and a short rest at the hotel I decided to hit a few trails in the later afternoon in search of primarily Ruffed Grouse. I went to the Death Valley trailhead off Moose-Wilson Rd, which was a relatively rough road but just traversable by passenger car (the sign recommended 4-wheel drive, but the conditions at the time were mostly dry). The Valley Trail northbound was flat and went through excellent habitat for Ruffed Grouse - but there were none to be found. A plus was the fact that hikers weren't to be found either. Instead I did find more Swainson's Thrushes, Williamson's Sapsucker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Dark-eyed Junco. Along the edge of the parking lot at Lupine Trail many Elk were gathering. I followed the paved trail and saw Swainson's Thrush, fly-by Great Blue Heron and adult Bald Eagle. It was getting fairly dark, fairly late and lightly drizzling, perhaps not the best conditions to find anything. Nevertheless I made a stab at the Taggart Lake trail, hiking to the second stream crossing and a little way up into the aspens, but saw a subset of the morning's species and no grouse. I was 0/3 at this point for target species for the day.

It was already sunset and was quite murky out but I made the 18 minute drive north to Signal Mountain once more, in the distant hope of Dusky Grouse. Climbing the mountain I had my headlights on, and increasingly needed them to see to drive in the pine forest. Up at the top, around the last corner, I slowed down thinking that if there was a Dusky in the road it would be a shame to hit it. And there it was, in the middle of the road, wandering down toward me through my headlight beams. I parked up along the side of the road 75 yards away and proceeded to watch it sing in dark conditions by the side of the road before it wandered off into the brush. When I say "sing" I mean give a series of barely audible ultra-low pitch hoots. Quite the finale for the day.

Overnight Jackson Motel6 for second night.

Thursday June 18th - Jackson WY to Gillette WY, ~530 miles

Dusky Grouse I returned to Signal Mtn at dawn and initially thought I'd failed to find the Dusky Grouse until I noticed it sheltering under a conifer from the rain, singing again. It sat there for a while hooting away as I shot about 200 images of it in impossibly dark conditions requiring high ISO - the picture at left was shot at ISO 1600 at something absurd like 1/30th at f4. The inherent sharpness of the EOS 5D Mark II and the 500/4L helps to overcome the noise in the image, especially after using Noise Ninja. Elk and Mule Deer were feeding in the forest, and there was the mostly the same mix of birds as the previous days visits there. This Dusky Grouse was unquestionably the bird of the trip, even edging out that Northern Goshawk.

This was mostly planned on being a Tetons-Yellowstone-and-eastward day, and the weather wasn't particularly friendly with low cloud and frequent patches of rain. For one last attempt at Ruffed Grouse I was the first person on the Taggart Lake trail finding a subset of species from the previous day but Ruffed Grouse were conspicuous by their absence. The rain got heavier and I made my way back to the car to drive north to Yellowstone.

In Yellowstone I took the south-west corner to Old Faithful to at least take a look at the scene. Big mistake, as I found it had been turned into a tourist magnet with few redeeming features. The road to Old Faithful even had its own exit ramp although one threatened by some geothermal activity. The old lodge overlooking Old Faithful was huge and magnificent, but the rest of the area had been developed in standard National Park mode to cater to the mass of tourists, rather strongly detracting from the spectacle. . Common Raven was the only bird species I saw at Old Faithful. I exited in a hurry, working my way around the south-east corner as far north as Canyon. Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Yellowstone Lake, Common Mergansers and Western Grebes were on the Yellowstone River north of there in the Hayden Valley, but apart from scenic stops at Mud Volcano and Lower Canyon Falls I failed to find any interesting bird species in variable weather conditions. In driving rain I did come across an interesting conifer burn near the Hayden Valley but conditions didn't allow me to check it out. Finally I returned to Yellowstone Lake and took the road toward the East Entrance. On the road east of the Fishing Bridge I saw Eared Grebe, Northern Rough-winged Swallow mixed in with Bank and Cliff Swallows. A little further along at Steamboat Point there was a Common Loon along the lake and Violet-green Swallows nesting on the cliffs.

The road through the East Entrance of the park takes you toward Cody along US-20/16/14. As I was dropping out of the mountains as the valley starts to widen at Wapiti I came across a small group of what appeared to be Mountain Goats, walking uphill out of a river valley after either coming down to drink (or perhaps visiting a salt lick). Out of Cody, I followed the US-20/16/14 combination to Greybull and US-14 to Shell into the Bighorn Mountains and up via Granite Pass. The drier conditions between the mountain ranges suggested that this was in the rain shadow of the Rockies. At a small National Forest site along the canyon I stopped to find Lazuli Bunting, Chipping Sparrow, Cassin's Finch and Common Raven streamside. Then up through the the pass into a greener alpine area that would seem to be promising for all sorts of montane birds if it had more public land access - however it appeared to be mostly private land so I didn't stop to investigate. I made good time across the plateau at the top of the Bighorns, exiting the mountain range on the east side and meeting the interstate at Ranchester. I managed to make it as far as Gillette overnight seeing Killdeer, Brewer's Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Red-tailed Hawk along the interstate.

Friday June 19th - Gillette MT to Belfield ND, ~530 miles

Western Meadnowlark A little after dawn I made it to Lynch Road in Thunder Basin NG west of Newcastle and south of Gillette. There were several Lark Buntings, Western Meadowlarks, Brewer's Sparrows, and smaller numbers of Sage Thrasher and Killdeer. There were a decent number of Pronghorn in the lusher areas. Despite good numbers of birds the diversity was low, so after a couple of hours chasing photographs I headed east toward Newcastle through the grasslands. An older trip report had indicated some shortgrass prairie with Chestnut-collared Longspurs along this route (WY-450) but I didn't see any on the fence lines and it was pretty obvious that the land was all private. Newcastle is on the south-west edge of the Black Hills, and I crossed into this higher rolling terrain and into SD via US-16, ultimately reaching Custer. My sole target in this region was the productive burn at Four Mile Draw at Custer State Park so after paying the $6 access fee I headed straight for it, ignoring other potentially productive places. Several Buffalo were seen roadside. Up at the burn (~3 miles along the Wildlife Drive, 0.5 miles up the dirt road of Four Mile Draw itself) I sheltered under one of the living trees while a rain storm passed, then finally found some woodpeckers. Two of these turned out to be male Black-backed Woodpeckers ! The rest were Hairies with a some Flickers heard across the valley. Chipping Sparrows and Brewer's Blackbirds were around, and Western Tanager was heard.

At this point I made a tactical decision to exit the Black Hills rather than take the slow winding roads north to Spearfish Canyon. In light of what I didn't achieve in Theodore Roosevelt SP that evening, it would have made more sense to spend the time in Spearfish Canyon and head north later - the benefits of hindsight. As it transpired I took a long drive north along US-85 through SD into ND. Roadside birding was less productive in SD because there are no prairie potholes, but I did see a few Lark Buntings south of the border in SD and fewer north of the border in ND. In fact there appeared to be a marked uptick in agricultural land use in ND compared to the similar area in SD. In ND there were more roadside ponds and a Swainson's Hawk.

Finally I made it to Theodore Roosevelt's south unit late in the afternoon and went to the picnic area in Cottonwood Canyon where I found Yellow Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, Lazuli Bunting and a first year male American Redstart. The American Redstart surprised me but it appears to be well within the breeding range. There were no viable photographic opportunities, however. I stayed overnight at the Cowboy Motel in Belfield which had wired internet via satellite.

Saturday June 20th - Belfield ND to Kenmare ND, ~320 miles

Say's Phoebe Not long after sunrise on the valley floor I started out at the Cottonwood picnic area at T. Roosevelt NP South and saw Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bullock's Oriole, Spotted Towhee, Eastern Bluebird and Barn Swallow. American Redstarts sang from multiple brushy areas. Field Sparrows sang from the sage brush and so did several Chats and Lazuli Buntings in mixed Juniper/sage river valleys. Photo ops were less common than I would like with the exception of a single Say's Phoebe and I left the south unit after covering the river valleys





By the time I reached Theodore Roosevelt NP north unit it was a redux of conditions on the way to MT - windy and hot. I managed to find (Yellow Warbler), (Rock Wren), an immature Golden Eagle, Spotted Towhee, Western Meadowlark and Say's Phoebe but birding conditions were fairly poor. After driving to the end of the auto tour I left to have lunch in Watford City before heading east then north to Stanley and then onto Lostwood NWR where in windy conditions I found Baird's, Vesper, Savannah and Clay-colored Sparrows, Marbled Godwit, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Swainson's Hawk, Northern Harrier and a Sharp-tailed Grouse on the road south of Lostwood NWR. Again, there was no evidence of singing Sprague's Pipit in the afternoon, and I could not find either Nelson's nor Le Conte's Sparrows. Given the conditions I left fairly early for Des Lacs NWR which is precisely when the rental car started to give problems starting, a symptom that would persist through the middle of the next day and may just have been dirt in the fuel line. Nevertheless your rental car refusing to start in rural ND is not the ideal situation.

Overnight in Kenmare.

Sunday June 21st - Kenmare ND to Bismarck ND, ~425 miles

The morning was windy and overcast and I had to contend with a cranky rental car. Not relishing the prospect of being stranded in the back of beyond at Lostwood NWR I simply did not turn off the rental car all morning, which certainly didn't help the resolution of some sparrow shots. At Lostwood NWR there were Baird's, Clay-colored, Savannah and Vesper Sparrows, singing Sprague's Pipits, Willow Flycatchers, Marbled Godwit, a brief look at a Le Conte's Sparrow (finally!) and Wilson's Phalarope. Conditions were pretty windy and not especially inspiring. Heading back to Kenmare I stopped at the state land "Chestnut-collared Longspur pasture" and made a quick walk down the slightly more sheltered east side while leaving the car running and found very little, but by then it was approaching mid morning and quite windy conditions.

Black Tern I headed into Minot and then east on US-2 to Berwick where a little rummaging around in the ponds north of this hamlet produced Horned Grebe for the trip list and the usual marshland birds including Wilson's Phalarope and Black Tern in good numbers. Then I backtracked a little and headed north-west to Clark Salyer NWR where the wind hadn't lessened and parts of the auto tour had minor grit storms. Black and Forster's Terns handled the conditions well, as did many Franklin's Gulls, with a variety of waterfowl hunkered down in calmer areas. Sora's were heard, but predictably Ammodramus sparrows were nowhere to be found. After being buffeted by wind all day I made a late afternoon drive to Bismarck without further stops, although as it passed through the hillier country north of Wing I noted that this had been reported as good territory for Baird's Sparrow and Sprague's Pipit and one could see why - it bore a strong resemblence to the terrain around Chase Lake NWR a little to the east of there and somewhat like Lostwood NWR.

Overnight Bismarck at a fairly basic Motel6.

Monday 22nd June - Bismarck ND to Fargo ND, ~350 miles

Chestnut-collared Longspur The day started dry but with heavy low cloud and fog that slowly lifted throughout the morning. I started in and round the state lands south-east of Tuttle finding Chestnut-collared Longspur, Grasshopper Sparrow, Wilson's Snipe, Clay-colored Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, one briefly heard (Baird's Sparrow), Black Terns, Western Meadowlark, various waterfowl, Sharp-tailed Grouse, a possible singing Indigo Bunting and an American White Pelican on the lake east of Tuttle. From there I went west and tracked north along the route of the Carrington Birding Drives. At various stops I found Chestnut-collared Longspur, NO Baird's/Sprague's, another Horned Grebe, Black Tern, White Pelican, waterfowl, Harrier, RT Hawk with a white tail, Clay-colored and Savannah Sparrows, Pied-billed Grebe, Upland Sandpiper, Sedge and Marsh Wrens and heard a (Sora).



Western Grebe Driving south I went as far as Chase Lake NWR but only walked a short distance along the entrance road. A silent Sprague's Pipit circled in the air before diving into the prairie, there were Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows and there were scolding Brewer's Blackbirds. Otherwise nothing to detain me. The causeway across the lake east of here didn't have the fledgeling Killdeer and Marbled Godwits of the previous week but Western Grebes were in higher numbers. Great and Snowy Egrets were around here. I drove the Jamestown-Chase Lake birding drive in reverse, finding nothing special in the middle of the day beyond Sedge Wren and Pied-billed Grebe, but there was increased truck traffic compared to the first time I visited it.

Black Tern I made a quick check of the WPA near Rogers but despite reports of Le Conte's and Nelson's here there was nothing beyond Savannah Sparrows at 2pm with a good breeze. It's not obvious to me if the people that post the reports are walking into the areas too, which would explain the high counts, but I'm reluctant to do that in breeding season without a compelling reason. Finding birds for the year list doesn't quite meet that standard.





Upland Sandpiper Then I headed south towards Lisbon and Sheyenne NG. Going through Lisbon just after 4pm I decided it was too late to get info about the grasslands so I headed to the walk in at trail - actually more of a ride-in trail - Grasshopper, Savannah, Clay-colored Sparrows were in the grasslands along with Bobolink and Western Meadowlark. Some of the prairie was fairly wet, doubtless in view of the recent rains, so I also encountered winnowing Wilson's Snipe, agitated Wilson's Phalarope and Black Terns. Over on the south side of Sheyenne NG near Brown Ranch the wetlands turned up more Snipe, Upland Sandpiper, American Coots with young, numerous icterids, a heard (Sora) and finally, finally two heard-only Le Conte's Sparrows which were entirely invisible.



Overnight Fargo

Tuesday June 23rd - Fargo ND to Minneapolis MN, ~375 miles

Pretty much no birding was done on this travel day - the day dawned humid, then strong storms developed that eliminated any desire I had to bird the local prairie areas although I did start to drive there before a heavy storm overtook me. I started the drive to Minneapolis, stopping briefly at Rothsay to look at the roadside Prairie-Chicken statue, and by the time I emerged from the car it was breezy in the 90's so I just returned the rental car and spent the rest of the time in the airport working on photos before the flight back.


Web Resources used for Trip Planning

LOCATION means a "significant" place, "Location" means something of less epic importance. Links to mailing lists and birding sites are included where I found them useful. In some cases I list a bunch of locations within (e.g.) Grand Teton NP that seem to keep cropping up in birding trip reports. They usually don't have URLs. Should be noted that what follows is still mostly in the fairly rough trip-planning form.

Minnesota

Really you should just read Eckert, which was used for planning this segment, but recent sightings for other species were lifted from the MN lists.

North Dakota

South Dakota

Montana

Wyoming

Recent Sightings from Regional Lists

Directions to Various Sites

ND and SD in particular are not covered by any guide books currently available (there is a very old 1979 birding guide by Zimmer, but a lot changes in 30 years and it is very much out of print). MN, MT and WY are covered by the birding guides and are in general not repeated here.

North Dakota

South Dakota

Final Trip List

204 species including heard-only birds like Black-throated Green Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush that I was sure of the ID of. (MN) means heard only in MN. Without parentheses it means seen.
Common Loon Gavia immer MN
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps ND
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena ND:Turtle Mtns
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus ND
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis ND, WY
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis ND, WY
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos ND, WY
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus ND
American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus ND
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias MN, WY
Great Egret Ardea alba ND, MN
Snowy Egret Egretta thula ND
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor ND
Green Heron Butorides virescens MN
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax ND
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi ND
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura MN, ND, MT
Canada Goose Branta canadensis MN, ND, WY
Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator MN, WY
Wood Duck Aix sponsa MN, ND
Gadwall Anas strepera ND, WY
American Wigeon Anas americana ND, WY
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos MN, ND, WY
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors ND
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera WY
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata ND
Northern Pintail Anas acuta ND
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca ND, WY
Canvasback Aythya valisineria ND
Redhead Aythya americana ND
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris MN, ND
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis ND, WY
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola MN, ND, WY
Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica WY
Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus ND
Common Merganser Mergus merganser WY
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis MN, ND
Osprey Pandion haliaetus WY
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus MN, ND, WY
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus ND
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus MN
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii MN
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis WY
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus MN, ND
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni ND
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis ND, WY
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos ND
American Kestrel Falco sparverius MN, MT
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus MT
Gray Partridge Perdix perdix ND (Life bird)
Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus ND
Dusky Grouse Dendragapus obscurus WY (Life bird)
Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus ND
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo MT
Sora Porzana carolina ND
American Coot Fulica americana ND, WY
Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis WY
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus ND
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus MN, ND, WY
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana ND, WY
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus ND
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia ND, WY
Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda ND
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa ND
White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis ND
Sanderling Calidris alba ND
Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata ND
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor ND, WY
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan ND
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis MN
California Gull Larus californicus ND, WY
Herring Gull Larus argentatus MN
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri ND
Black Tern Chlidonias niger MN, ND
Rock Pigeon Columba livia MN, ND, MT
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura MN, ND, MT
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor MN
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica (ND), MT
Broad-tailed Hummingbird Selasphorus platycercus WY
Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus WY
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius MN, ND
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus MN, MT, WY
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus MN, SD (Life bird)
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus MN, ND, MT, WY
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus MN
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi MN, WY
Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus WY
Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens MN, ND
Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum MN
Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii ND
Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus MN, ND
Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri WY
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe MN, ND
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya MT, ND
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus MN, ND
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis ND, MT, WY
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus MN, ND, MT
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons (MN)
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus (ND), WY
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus MN, (ND)
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis WY
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata MN
Clark's Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana MT, WY
Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia ND, MT, WY
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos MN, ND, MT, WY
Common Raven Corvus corax MN, (ND), MT, WY
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris MN, ND, MT, WY
Purple Martin Progne subis ND
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor MN, ND, WY
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina MT, WY, ND
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis WY
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia ND, WY
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota MN, ND, MT, WY
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica MN, ND, MT
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapilla MN
Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli MT, WY
Boreal Chickadee Poecile hudsonica MN
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis (MN), WY
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis SD
Brown Creeper Certhia americana WY
Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus MT, WY
House Wren Troglodytes aedon (ND), (MT), WY
Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis MN, ND
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris ND
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula WY
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis MN, ND
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides MT, WY
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi WY
Veery Catharus fuscescens (MN), ND
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus WY
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus MN, WY
American Robin Turdus migratorius MN, ND, WY
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis MN, ND
Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus ND, WY
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum ND
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris MN, ND, WY
American Pipit Anthus rubescens MT, WY
Sprague's Pipit Anthus spragueii ND
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum MN, ND, WY
Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera (MN)
Nashville Warbler Oreothlypis ruficapilla MN
Northern Parula Parula americana (MN)
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia MN, ND, (MT), WY
Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica MN
Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia MN
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata MN, WY
Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens (MN)
Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca MN
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia MN
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla MN, ND
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapillus (MN), (ND)
Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis (ND)
Connecticut Warbler Oporornis agilis (MN)
Mourning Warbler Oporornis philadelphia MN
MacGillivray's Warbler Oporornis tolmiei WY
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas MN, ND, WY
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens ND
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana WY, (SD)
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus WY
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus ND, (WY), MT
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina MN, ND, MT, WY, SD
Clay-colored Sparrow Spizella pallida MN, ND
Brewer's Sparrow Spizella breweri WY
Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla ND, MT
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus ND, MT, WY
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus ND, MT
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys MT, SD, ND
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis MN, ND, WY
Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum ND, MT
Baird's Sparrow Ammodramus bairdii ND
Le Conte's Sparrow Ammodramus leconteii ND
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow Ammodramus nelsoni ND
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia MN, ND
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii WY
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis MN
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys WY
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis WY
Chestnut-collared Longspur Calcarius ornatus ND
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis MN
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus MN, ND
Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus WY
Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena ND, MT, WY
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea MN, (?ND)
Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus MN, ND
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus MN, ND, MT, WY
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna (MN)
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta ND, MT, WY
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus MN, ND, MT, WY, SD
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus MN, ND, WY
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula MN, ND, MT, WY
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater MN, ND, MT, WY
Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius ND
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula ND
Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii ND
Black Rosy-Finch Leucosticte atrata MT, WY
Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator WY
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus MN
Cassin's Finch Carpodacus cassinii WY
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus MT
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra WY
White-winged Crossbill Loxia leucoptera WY
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus MN, MT, WY, ND?
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis MN, ND
House Sparrow Passer domesticus MN, ND