Dakota Water Birds

The prairie pothole region of the northern plains is a result of the last glaciation ice age of 10,000 years ago. The Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and parts of Montana comprise the pothole region as do Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta provinces in Canada.  The shallow ponds, lakes and sloughs are important habitat for migrating waterfowl and other birds.  Kidder County, just east of Burleigh County, is one of the top birding sites in the United States.

Dakota Waterbirds



White-faced Ibis



White-faced Ibis



Northern Shoveler



Black-crowned Night-Heron



Northern Pintails



Wilson's Snipe



Pectoral Sandpiper



Canada Geese



American Bittern



Wilson's Phalarope



Franklin's Gull



Common Terns



American Bittern



White-faced Ibis



Wood Duck



Mallard



Green-winged Teals


American Avocet



American Avocet



Eared Grebe



Horned Grebe



Marbled Godwit


Canada Geese



Canada Goose



American Coots


Black-crowned Night-Heron


This black-crowned night-heron has found a salamander for breakfast. If you look closely, the heron's eye is partially covered by the nictitating membrane which protects the eye but allows vision. Birds and reptiles use the membrane during activities that may have potential of eye injury, such as trying to subdue your breakfast.


Great Blue Herons


The great blue heron is found throughout much of the United States but they are seasonal to North Dakota.  They are the largest heron in North America with a height over 4 feet tall and a wingspan of nearly 6 1/2 feet long.


Canada Geese


American Coot


Black-crowned Night-Heron


Marbled Godwit


Black-crowned Night-Heron


Eared Grebe


Black-crowned Night-Heron


White-faced Ibis


Black-crowned Night-Heron


Wood Duck

Burleigh County


Wood Ducks are unique.  The have claws that allow them to perch on and nest in trees.  The feed on water plants but also berries, seeds, acorns and insects on land.   Wood Duck numbers were critically low in the early 1900s due to habitat loss and overhunting for meat and feathers.   The  U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 allowed Wood Duck populations to recover slowly.  Many communities promote nesting boxes near lakes and ponds.


Horned Grebe

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


Horned Grebes are named from the large patches of yellowish feathers located behind their eyes, called "horns", which they can raise and lower at will.


Northern Shoveler

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


Northern shovelers are named from the shape of its bill, which has small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water's surface.


American Avocet

Burleigh County


American avocets breed in Western states from Texas and New Mexico to Alberta and Saskatchewan and winter in Texas, California and Central America.


Northern Shovelers

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


The breeding drake has an iridescent dark green or blue head, white breast and chestnut belly and flanks. In flight, pale blue forewing feathers are revealed, separated from the green speculum by a white border.


The female is a drab mottled brown like other dabblers, with plumage much like a female mallard, but easily distinguished by the long broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible. The female's forewing is gray.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_shoveler


Bonaparte's Gull

Burleigh County


The Bonaparte's Gull is the only gull that regularly nests in trees.

Bonaparte's Gull is named after Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who made important contributions to American ornithology while an active member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia during the 1820s.


Ring-billed Gull

Burleigh County


Ring-billed gulls breed near lakes, rivers, or the coast in Canada and the northern United States. They nest colonially on the ground, often on islands.


Common Mergansers

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


The common merganser breeds in Canada and northwestern states and winters in southern states.  The common merganser eats fish and nests in holes in trees.


White Pelican

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge


The American white pelican rivals the trumpeter swan, with a similar overall length, as the longest bird native to North America.  The species also has the second largest average wingspan of any North American bird, after the California condor.  White pelicans breed in southern Canada and in selected areas of western United States.


Willet

Burleigh County


Willets nest in the Northern Plains and the Prairie Provinces of Canada south to north-eastern California, northern Colorado and western Nebraska and winter on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and Central and South America.


Western Grebe Photos 2019


May I Please see the Children's Menu?


Proud Papa on the right had caugh a fish but it was too large for his babies to eat.  After several attempts, he dropped it in the water for mom to eat.



When tending their young, Western grebe parents use different types of vocalization to communicate. Ticking is one of the two and is used as an alarm signal. Parents carry their newly hatched young on their backs, and when the parents make ticking sound, this is used as a signal for their chicks to hide their heads beneath the back of their parents and be silent. If chicks are greater than 4 weeks of age, they respond to the ticking by swimming or diving away on their own. When making a ticking sound, the callers do not open their mouths, so it is hard to distinguish who is the maker of the sound. The parent who carries the chicks tend to make the ticking sound more often than those that do not, and both of male and female parents are equally likely to tick. Another vocalization noise is clucking, and this signals for food. When a parent clucks, the young respond to it by poking their head out of their parent back where they are on to receive food.  This bird dives for carp, herring, mollusks, crabs, and amphibians, such as salamanders. It often peers below the water before diving. Recent observations suggest that the grebe dives at the bottom of the lake. Some smaller fish are impaled much like herons, with the bill, but others are grasped. Most are swallowed underwater, but some are brought to the surface, pinched, and swallowed.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_grebe


Photo of the Day for August 8, 2019



Children's Menu


Now That is a Meal that I can Handle!


This baby Western Grebe was excited to get a minnow for breakfast!


The western grebe is the largest North American grebe. It is 55–75 cm (22–30 in) long, weighs 795–2,000 g (1.753–4.409 lb) and measures 79–102 cm (31–40 in) across the wings. It is black-and-white, with a long, slender, swan-like neck and red eyes. It is easily confused with Clark's grebe, which shares similar features, body size, behavior and habitat, and hybrids are known. Western grebes nest in colonies on lakes that are mixed with marsh vegetation and open water. Western Grebe nests are made of plant debris and sodden materials, and the nest building begins roughly around late April through June. The construction is done by both sexes and is continued on throughout laying and incubation. This species of water birds is widespread in western North America, so there is no specific place of abundance. It has a spectacular courtship display; two birds will rear up and patter across the water's surface.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_grebe


Photo of the Day for August 10, 2019



Can a Baby Western Grebe Swallow a Big Fish?


Baby Couldn't Hold on to the Fish


Dad Picked up the Fish again and Gave it to Baby!


This Time Baby Got the Fish!  Can Baby Swallow It?


Down Went the Fish!  The Baby Got Its Breakfast!!


Breakfast in Bed!


The Western Grebe Mom on the left had three babies.  The bed for the babies was Mom's back, a floating bed that can move toward food.  Every other time that I had seen Dad feeding the babies, fish was on the menu.  In fact, only fish was on the menu.  Sometimes it was a medium size fish but often it was a menu.


Apparently, dragonflies are also on the menu.  Dad on the right had found a large dragonfly.  After several attempts, one of the babies was able to grasp the dragonfly and have a wonderful breakfast.


For additional photographs, please see the Water birds page in the Dakota Region tab.


Photo of the Day for August 14, 2019



Three Babies Looking for Breakfast in Bed!


Not a Common Visitor to North Dakota!


This Snowy Egret was photographed on August 20, 2019 in McKenzie Slough in Burleigh County, North Dakota.


Snowy egrets are permanent residents in most of South America and Central America. In the United States, they are often permanent residents along the Atlantic coast north to Virginia Beach, Virginia, along the Gulf Coast, and along the Pacific lowlands from central California southward. During the breeding season, snowy egrets wander north along the Atlantic flyway between the lower Chesapeake Bay and coastal Rhode Island, and up the Pacific Coast to northern California. Snowy egrets also breed in the lower Mississippi Valley westward into eastern Texas.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_egret


Photo of the Day for August 20, 2019


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