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Birds in wetland

Wildlife Viewing

North Dakota is home to a diversity of wildlife. Due to the state’s generally wide-open landscape, viewing wildlife can be as simple as taking a drive down a gravel road or a hike through a park or other public land.

Taking a field guide with you is a great way to help identify animals that you may see. Browsing through some of the species profiles of some common species, game species and Species of Conservation Priority is also a good way to get started.

Bighorn sheep juveniles sparring

Wildlife ID Resources

There are many helpful wildlife ID resources on the internet. Here are a few.

  • The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (USGS) website is an excellent resource for more information on species and ecology in North Dakota.
  •, a website maintained by the Central Flyway Council describes the flyway, its habitats and birds.
  • eBird, a website maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, is a tremendous resource for both birders and casual wildlife observers alike. The site includes a searchable database of recent species observations in North Dakota and the world.
  • All About Birds, another website maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is an excellent bird identification website.
  • North Dakota Herp Atlas - Amphibians and reptiles of North Dakota

A note on orphaned and injured wildlife: Handling or taking a wild animal reduces that animal’s chance of survival. In addition, possession of a live wild animal is illegal. If you encounter an animal that appears orphaned or injured, it's best leave it alone. Learn more here.

Wildlife Sightings Reports

Hunter looking through binoculars

Furbearer Species

If you spot a less common furbearer (ex. an American marten, brown bear, fisher, etc.), consider taking a photo (from a distance) and reporting it on our online furbearer observation form.

Banded Birds

Sometimes you may sight a bird that has a band on its leg. These bands are a research tool used for management and conservation of migratory bird populations.

If you can read the numbers on the bird's band from a distance using your binoculars or camera, you can report your sighting on the USGS website. This sighting information is invaluable to biologists studying the movements and ecology of birds.

Active Bald Eagle Nests

Bald eagles are increasing in North Dakota and may be seen any time of the year. During March/April and October/November, there are large numbers of adult and juvenile bald eagles migrating through the state. In the spring, the eagles nesting in North Dakota will be actively using their nest site. The Department is interested in documenting these nest sites as they increase in both number and distribution in North Dakota.

Active bald eagle nests can be reported here. NOTE: For the safety of the eagles and their young, do not approach an active bald eagle nest. Observe it from a distance with binoculars.

Citizen Science

There are a number of online communities and websites that encourage the general public to report sightings of different plants, insects and animals. Some are generalized and cover a wide range of species while others are more specialized focusing on just a few or even just a single species. Most of these communities also have experts that can help you identify creatures you find along the way.

Listed below are a few good places to start your journey into citizen science.



Habitat needs vary by species and season, so if you want to see a specific species in the wild, do your research on the habitats most used by that species. Then take a look at our habitat pages to get an idea of where in the state you might find the species in which you are interested.

Where to Look

Child fishing from shore

Public Lands

There are many public land options for wildlife viewing across the state including Wildlife Management Areas, State Trust Lands, state parks, and more...

  • Public Lands Interactive Map
    • Using this map to view public lands requires you turn on the lands data layers. On the map use the following three steps to do so.
      1. Click on the > arrow in the upper left corner of the map to view the data layer listing.
      2. Click on the + sign by "Lands" in the layer listing.
      3. Put a checkmark beside the types of lands you want to view on the map.
Farm equipment in field

Private Lands

Around 90% of land in North Dakota is privately owned.

You must have landowner permission to access private lands for wildlife watching.

This requirement includes PLOTS lands which are open to walk-in hunting only, not wildlife watching.

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