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Wildlife Notes

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…

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…

So you're out for a hike and see a track in the snow, a big track. You wonder if it might be a mountain lion track. How do you tell? Check out this short video for some tips.

 

Sleep.

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.

All living creatures, from the smallest to the largest, must obtain some form of rest in their daily cycle, but how much…

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. For both species, turning white allows them to better blend into the snowy winter landscape. For weasels it has the added advantage of camouflaging them from their prey. (Pictured: long-tailed weasel and white-tailed…

The species name for the North American “moose” is said to have its roots in Algonquin language, and depending on the source, can mean anything from “stripper of bark” to “twig eater.”

Either of those generally sum up what moose typically eat, as they easily extend their head and neck up to 8 feet off the ground, to reach leaves and tender branches that pretty much no other North…

This clash of bighorn sheep was observed in the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the fall of 2019. It was an epic battle, but in the end, no clear winner emerged...

(Note: These two sparring youngsters are actually ewes, one a yearling and one a lamb. Bighorn ewes will sometimes fight one another for dominance and sometimes just because one annoyed the other. Big Game…

Wild turkey are another popular North Dakota upland game species. Turkeys are not native to North Dakota. Their historical range extended only as far north as southern South Dakota and Minnesota. The first introduction of turkeys into North Dakota took place in the early 1950s along the Missouri, Knife and Heart rivers. Turkeys need several types of habitat to survive: trees for roosting,…

North Dakota is home to several upland game species. Arguably one of the most entertaining of these is the sharp-tailed grouse. In the spring these grouse can be found on leks (dancing grounds) where males display to attract mates.

While the criteria for (vegetation and topography play a role as the birds prefer areas with low grass height and an easy view of the surrounding area to…

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

Did you know that North Dakota has two softshell turtle species? Spiny and smooth softshell turtles are found only in the southern Missouri River System. Learn more here!