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Wildlife Notes

Yucca moth

Yucca Moths

Did you know that yucca moths are the yucca plant's only pollinator? Learn more here!

Coot chick with pare t

American Coots in North Dakota

American coots are a fairly common water bird in North Dakota. Check out this short video to learn more.

Richardson's ground squirrel

North Dakota Ground Squirrels

So is that ground squirrel you see in the North Dakota countryside a Flickertail or a Franklin's?

Wild turkey

Wild Turkey in North Dakota

Wild turkey, a popular upland game species in North Dakota, are not native to the state. Learn more in this Wildlife Notes post.

Ten-Petal Blazing Star

Ten-Petal Blazing Star

If you want to see one of the state’s most impressive wildflowers in full bloom, you need to know not only where to look, but when.

Weasel with white winter coat

Winter Camouflage

Did you know that North Dakota's two hare (white-tailed jackrabbits and snowshoe hares) and three weasel (long-tailed, short-tailed and least) species turn white in the winter.

Moose with bad case of winter ticks

Winter Ticks and Moose

Stories about ghost moose are being told with increased frequency across the southern portion of moose range in North America. Winter ticks are the cause.

Killdeer chicks

Newly Hatched Killdeer Chicks

Newly hatched killdeer chicks, while not the most graceful of creatures, are arguably one of the most adorable. These chicks were filmed in a gravel area right outside of one of the Department's offices.

Bison in badlands

Bison in North Dakota

Watch this short video for some facts on bison in North Dakota.

Eastern kingbird

Eastern Kingbird and Chitin Pellets

Eastern kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus), which can be found across North Dakota in the summer, feed primarily on insects during the breeding season. Like owls and some other birds, eastern kingbirds regurgitate pellets of indigestible prey parts, in this case insect chitin. Here is a series of photographs demonstrating this behavior (because we knew everyone would appreciate this visual to start your day out right!)

Tick waving front legs looking for dinner

Ticks

Ticks sit on the tips of vegetation with legs outstretched waiting for dinner to wander by. Learn more about one of North Dakota's least favorite insects here.

Black terns displaying fish flight courting

Black Tern Fish Flight

Black terns (Chlidonias niger) can be found across North Dakota during their breeding season. These birds do a courtship display called a Fish Flight. During a Fish Flight a male tern will catch and carry a fish or other larger food item in an attempt to attract a female. If he finds an interested female, he’ll feed her the item.
Canada geese on ice sleeping

The Sandman Goes Wild

For humans, sleeping involves closing their eyes and drifting away into a state of rest for the mind and body. In the safety and warmth of their home, this is typically accomplished in about eight hours. For teenagers, sometimes it takes much longer.

White-tailed deer walking through deep snow

White-Tailed Deer Movements

On the northern Great Plains, seasonal movements of white-tailed deer are highly variable. Find out more in this Wildlife Notes post.

Sharptail in grass

Sharp-tailed Grouse or Fire Bird

To the Lakota, the sharp-tailed grouse was called “Cansiyo” or the “Fire Bird”, because of its need for fire to keep the grasslands open. Learn more about this iconic bird in the Wildlife Notes post.

western prairie fringed orchid

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

The western prairie fringed orchid is North Dakota's only federally listed plant under the Endangered Species Act.

Mountain lion

Mountain Lion vs. Canine Tracks

How do you tell the difference between mountain lion and coyote tracks? Watch this short video for some tips.

Red-Eyed Vireo on limb

Red-Eyed Vireo

Red-eyed vireos typically sing high in tree canopies in short little bursts of 2-4 syllables, altering back and forth between ascending and descending tones so it sounds like a 90's Valley Girl on the phone saying, "Hello?" "Where are you?" "That's cool" "I'm up here." "Totally."

Kneeling cow moose

Kneeling Moose

Moose are tall, gangly creatures that normally eat from the trees. When a food source is on the ground things get challenging. Learn more in this post.

Long-billed curlew

Long-Billed Curlews

Long-billed curlews are one of the 13 shorebird species known to nest in North Dakota. Learn more about these neat little birds here.

Red-bellied snake

Red-Bellied Snakes

Red-bellied snakes can be found in the eastern half of North Dakota and are the state's smallest snake reaching lengths of only 8-10 inches. 

Pintails

Birds of a Feather

Did you know a hummingbird has about 1,000 feathers on its body, whereas a Northern pintail has nearly 15,000? Feathers vary in structure and function. Check out this cool interactive learning tool, All About Feathers.

Otolith

Aging Fish

Have you ever wondered how a bony fish can be aged? Biologists count the growth sections of their otoliths. Learn more in this post.

Plains spadefoot held in hand

Plains Spadefoot

The plains spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) is the most easily recognized toad in North Dakota. Its skin is smooth like that of a frog, and it has a distinct vertical pupil like that of a cat. Its color varies from a light cream, to gray or brown, and may have small orange spots.

Whooping cranes flying

Whooping Crane Migration

The whooping cranes that make their way through North Dakota each spring are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from their wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

Channel catfish

Catfish Taste Receptors

Channel catfish are aptly nicknamed swimming tongues. Find out why in this Wildlife News post

Elk bugling

Elk Bugling

Department Upland Game Management Supervisor Jesse Kolar took this awesome video of a bull elk bugling in the badlands (Fall 2019).

Canada geese sitting in bald eagle nest

Canada Geese and Tree Nests

Did you know that Canada geese will sometimes appropriate old nests of tree nesting birds like eagles? How do the goslings get down from these nests? Find out here.