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Wildlife Notes

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

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

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.

Bigmouth buffalo and smallmouth buffalo are members of the sucker family and both native to the Missouri River System in North Dakota. Bigmouth buffalo (left) have long filaments on their gills that strain food from the water and they feed primarily by filter feeding, similar to paddlefish.

Smallmouth buffalo (right) by contrast feed primarily on the bottom.

Buffalo are…

“Barotrauma” is the term used to describe any of the number of injuries, or trauma, a fish may receive from rapid changes in atmospheric (i.e. barometric) pressures. For fish caught by anglers, these rapid pressure changes occur when fish are reeled to the surface from deep water. Barotrauma injuries include things like eversion, prolapse, torsion and volvulus of the stomach, hemorrhaging of…

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…

If you’ve spent much time in western North Dakota, you’ve probably run across yucca (Yucca glauca). This is the time of year that yucca are blooming. If you get a chance to look inside some of a yucca’s flowers, there is a good chance you’ll find one or more of these little moths. This is a yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella). Yucca moths provide a critical service to yucca…

While nearly 40 shorebird species migrate through North Dakota, only 13 are known to stick around and nest in the state. The long-billed curlew is one.

More Information (Cronell Lab's All About Birds website)

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. Learn more about…

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.

North Dakota is sometimes referred to as the “Flickertail State”, a reference to the Richardson’s ground squirrel (Flickertail), a ground squirrel that is common throughout much of the state. Did you know that there is another ground squirrel in the state that looks very similar to the Flickertail? The Franklin’s ground squirrel, like the Richardson’s, can be found in areas of the state north…

Ticks come out in force in the spring (as many of you who spend time outdoors in the spring have long since discovered). Dog ticks (also called wood ticks) are North Dakota's most common ticks.

They wait, with their front legs stretched out, on the tips of leaves or stems for a food source to brush up against their perch. When this happens, they latch on. The first two photos in this…

Leopard Pike? Northern pike typically have a cream colored belly, olive sides with oblong cream colored spots, and a dark olive back. However, two additional naturally occurring color variations have been observed in North American northern pike populations. Leopard pike have a dark mottled pattern on cream colored sides and silver pike lack spots and may have olive to blue-gray sides. NDGF…

A number of larger predators like coyotes, great horned owls and bobcats will take an occasional porcupine, but these predators have little impact on porcupine numbers. Fisher, however, are effective predators of porcupines and can control porcupine populations in areas where they both live. Fisher will repeatedly attack a porcupine’s head to kill…

Have you ever been driving down a back road during the spring and seen tubes of dirt meandering along a ditch? These tubes are created by northern pocket gophers. Pocket gophers are small mammals that live mostly underground and are seldom spotted outside of their tunnels. They create dirt tubes when they are excavating tunnels in the winter and pushing the dirt up into tunnels in the snow. In…