Skip to main content
nd.gov - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government
Bird on a letter header graphic

Wildlife Notes

In the summer, American tree sparrows can be found nesting (on or near the ground, not in trees as their name might imply) in the far northern regions of Canada and in Alaska. However, in the winter, you can find small flocks in North Dakota. These little birds require food and water equal to about 30% of their body weight each day, so look for them industriously foraging for seeds and berries…

Salmon are a popular species in Lake Sakakawea. While not native to North Dakota, salmon do well in the deeper areas of the lake and provide a unique fishing opportunity to North Dakota anglers. Because conditions in the lake and surrounding streams are not suitable for natural reproduction, salmon must be stocked into the lake. This process requires some effort. …

Plains gartersnakes can be found across North Dakota and can be identified by three stripes, with the middle stripe often being bright orange or yellow. The side stripes may take on a bluish-green hue. Females normally give birth to about 20-40 live young, but can have over 90!

Did you know that sagebrush lizards (found in the North Dakota badlands) can drop their tail to distract an attacking predator? They escape while the predator goes after their still twitching tail. Later their tail grows back. Learn more.

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. While their backs vary in color from light ot dark brown, gray or chestnut, they have bright red to salmon colored bellies. When feeling threatened, they will curl their lips upward to show off their tiny teeth which is thought to be an attempt to…

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), a member of the rose family, is the state fruit of North Dakota. This small tree or shrub grows to a height of 20 feet. Often found in ravines and valleys. The white flowers grow in clusters on the tips of branches and bloom in May. The slightly tart fruit is ripe in late July and August. Chokecherry berries were one of the main ingredients in a food commonly…

Snapping turtles are common throughout North Dakota. These big turtles can live 40-50 years or more in the wild and can grow to around 65 pounds (though most are in the 10-35 pound range). Mind your fingers and toes should you ever encounter one of these critters. When they feel threatened, these turtles will use their powerful, beak-like mouth to bite, and they don't like to let go.

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."

They're common in wooded areas in North Dakota usually accompanied by warbling vireos. Other vireo species…

All birds molt - shedding their old, weathered feathers with new ones. Some birds molt once per year, others two or three times per year. Sometimes the molt process is simultaneous, such as with waterfowl when they lose all of the primary feathers at once, leaving them flightless for 3-4 weeks. You’ve probably seen them this time of year in a wetland doing a breast-stroke swim to escape to…

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.

Their back feet have a digging spur (spade) used to burrow into the soil. They may burrow 3 feet or more…

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,…

So, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Well, a New York state wildlife expert, Richard Thomas, decided to answer that question some years back. He found that, while a woodchuck doesn’t actually chuck wood, they do in fact chuck quite a bit of dirt when digging out a burrow. On a good day they can chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt (or about 700 pounds). So…

Sights and sounds of spring advancing across our North Dakota

 

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…

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.

This iconic bird of the northern Great Plains was reported by Theodore Roosevelt as “the most plentiful feathered game to be found” in the region. Thus, it is not surprising then that the sharptail has such a prominent place on the logos of both the…