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Wildlife Notes

Ghost Moose - Stories about ghost moose are being told with increased frequency across the southern portion of moose range in North America. These are not supernatural moose, but moose that appear grey in color due to the loss of hair and their sickly appearance. In some instances, they appear like something right out of “The Walking Dead”.

Unlike other ticks, the winter tick has just…

Batesian vs. Mullerian Mimicry

Mimicry, the fascinating art of imitation, is all around us in the natural world. There are endless examples of both animals and plants that mimic other living creatures or inanimate objects, in a variety of different ways. One example with which many people are familiar is the monarch and viceroy butterflies.

It has long been believed that…

Did you know that sharp-tailed grouse dig snow caves? To help them withstand harsh winter weather, sharp-tailed grouse will often burrow into the snow to roost. If you stumble across a burrow in the snow with grouse poo in it, you've found a grouse snow cave!

Badgers are found statewide in North Dakota. Find out more about this hard-digging furbearer in this segment of North Dakota Outdoors.

Did you know that bony fish have three pairs of otoliths, also known as ear stones, within their skull? Together, otoliths are involved in the detection of both sound for hearing and gravity for balance. Otoliths also form annuli or rings as fish experience periods of fast growth in the summer and slow growth in the winter, much like tree rings. Sagitta (photo 1 - an example from a 16 inch…

Did you know that channel catfish have one of the most highly developed senses of taste of all of North Dakota’s fishes? While taste buds are most abundant near the mouth and on its barbels (whiskers), the entire body of a channel catfish is covered in taste receptors.

These taste receptors are especially adept at detecting proteins dissolved in water from potential food sources as…

Did you know there’s an owl in North Dakota that lives underground? Learn more in this segment of North Dakota Outdoors.

Getting to watch an adult monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis is something most of us never get the opportunity to do, so we thought we’d share these photos. These were taken in 2018 and are of a monarch that had been housed in a live display at the Bismarck office.

As a monarch’s time to emerge nears, the once greenish chrysalis appears black with clear areas where the…

Did you know that temperature influences the gender of painted turtles in the egg? If the temperature of egg incubation is around 78 degrees F, then the hatchlings will be male. If it is around 86 degrees F they will be females. For temperatures between 78 and 86 F they could be either.

The parts of a bird’s leg may not be what you think. They do not stand on feet, but rather on their toes. What appears to be a backwards bent knee is actually their ankle or heel. Their knee does bend forward like a human’s but you usually can’t see it because it’s covered by feathers. Most birds have four toes, with the first toe, or hallux, turned backwards.

On some birds, such as…

The western prairie fringed orchid is the state’s only federally listed plant under the Endangered Species Act. It was listed as endangered in 1984, changed to threatened in 1989, and added to the IUCN Red List in 2008.

This unique orchid was first documented by Lewis and Clark in present day Wyoming and was once found across all of the central Great Plains. Unfortunately, habitat loss…

As any dog owner knows, dogs love to pick up and carry around any dead critters they may happen across (a behavior which is perhaps preferable to their unfortunate penchant for rolling on the carcasses of dead critters they happen across), but imagine the surprise of one rural Mandan resident when his dog dragged home a two-headed white-tailed deer fetus. The female whitetail was hit and…

Did you know that the eyes on an American Bittern are set in their face so they can easily focus downward? Bittern eat a wide variety of prey like fish, insects, small reptiles and mammals which they use stalking behaviors to capture. Their downward focusing eyes are thought to help them better spot and hunt their prey on…

Lowhead dams can be great locations for fishing, but they can also present real safety hazards. Find out more in this short video from a 2018 North Dakota Outdoors program.

Many species of wading birds migrate through North Dakota. Some even breed here. Learn more in this short video.