Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, located in south-central North Dakota, was established in 1932 as a migratory bird refuge by President Herbert Hoover. The 22,300-acre (90 km2) refuge consists of a 15,000-acre (61 km2) saline basin that is 18 miles (29 km) long and is appropriately named "Long Lake." The lake is 2 miles wide in some locations. Long Lake is relatively shallow; it is normally 3–4 feet (0.91–1.22 m) deep. During extended wet periods, Long Lake reaches depths up to 7 feet (2.1 m). The dikes and building were constructed in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) by residents of Burleigh County. Prior to the dike's construction, avian botulism killed hundreds of thousands of birds. The resulting deeper water levels reduced the frequency of avian botulism.

 

The shallow depths and lengths of meandering shoreline provide vast expanses of habitat that attract migrating and nesting species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and rare migrant birds. In recognition of the Refuge's significance in the ongoing effort to conserve wild birds and their habitat, Long Lake was designated as a "Globally Important Bird Area" in 2001. Also, due to the special importance of Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge to migrating shorebirds, the Refuge was recently recognized as a "Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network" site.

 

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Firsh and Wildlife Service, July 2005

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

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Whooping Crane

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

October 2018

 

The whooping crane is the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its whooping sound. Along with the sandhill crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America. The whooping crane's lifespan is estimated to be 22 to 24 years in the wild. After being pushed to the brink of extinction by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat to just 21 wild and two captive whooping cranes by 1941, conservation efforts have led to a limited recovery. The total number of cranes in the surviving migratory population, plus three reintroduced flocks and in captivity, now exceeds 800 birds.

 

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

 

Whooping Crane traveling with Sandhill Cranes

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

October 2018

 

Approximately 500 whooping cranes travel north from Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to Wood Buffalo National Park where they nest in the summer before returning to Aransas. North Dakota is part of their flyway and occasionally they will stop for several days on their migration.

 

Whooping cranes are nearly 5 feet tall with a wing span of 7.5 feet, males average 16 pounds while females average 14 pounds. Sandhill cranes are 4 feet tall and their wing span can be over 7 feet, males average 10 pounds and females 9 pounds.

 

Bald Eagle during Spring Migration

March 16, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent location to see bald eagles during their spring migration north. The bald eagles will often stay several weeks waiting for the ice to melt so they can feed on carp who did not survive the winter.

 

Bald Eagle during Fall Migration

November 17, 2017 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Long Lake National Wildlife Refugecan be an area to see bald eagles during their fall migration south although the numbers are not as concentrated as in the spring. Some bald eagles may winter over in North Dakota if the winter is milder and the nearby Missouri River does not freeze over .

 

Bald Eagle during Spring Migration

March 14, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Blue skies at Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge provides excellent opportunites to photograph bald eagles during their spring migration north. They are 3 feet tall and their wingspan is up to 7.5 feet. Females average 12 pounds while males average 9 pounds.

 

Northern Shovelers during Spring Migration

April 26, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful location to see migrating waterfowl as they head north during their spring migration. Northern shovelers are 19 in long and have a wingspan of 30 in with a weight of 600 grams or 1.3 lb.

 

Northern Shovelers during Spring Migration

April 26, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Northern shovelers are named after the shape of their bill. They feed by using their bill to strain their food (aquatic invertebrates) from the water.

 

Common Mergansers during Spring Migration

April 23, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Common mergansers are 23–28 inch long with a 31–38 inch wingspan and a weight of 2.0–4.6 lbs; males average slightly larger than females.

 

Common Mergansers during Spring Migration

March 19, 2017 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

This male was not having a good day. The common merganser is generally monogamous and I am not sure what the discussion was about.

 

Common Merganser during Spring Migration

March 19, 2017 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

This female was photographed in flight. Common megansers are divers and feed on fish. The females nest in cavities and lay between 6 and 17 creamy-white eggs, which are incubated by the female for 28 to 35 days.

 

Common Goldeneyes during Spring Migration

March 19, 2017 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

These males were photographed in flight. Common goldeneyes are divers and feed on crustaceans, aquatic insects and molluscs. The females nest in cavities and lay between 4 and eggs, which are incubated by the female for 27 to 33 days.

 

Horned Grebe during Spring Migration

May 22, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

This bird is primarily found in Canada from south-central Alaska to northwestern Ontario. The horned grebe nests from the Yukon to northwestern states, from Washington to Minnesota. Its wintering range is primarily coastal from southern Alaska down to the northern Gulf of California.

 

Greater Scaup during Spring Migration

April 28, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

This bird is a mid-sized diving duck, larger than the closely related lesser scaup. It spends the summer months breeding in Alaska and northern Canada. During the winter, it migrates south to the coasts of North America.

 

Canada Goose during Spring Migration

April 4, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

The giant Canada goose subspecies was believed to be extinct in the 1950s until, in 1962, a small flock was discovered wintering in Rochester, Minnesota, by Harold Hanson of the Illinois Natural History Survey. In 1964, the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center was built near Jamestown, North Dakota. Its first director, Harvey K. Nelson, talked Forrest Lee into leaving Minnesota to head the center's Canada goose production and restoration program. Forrest soon had 64 pens with 64 breeding pairs of screened, high-quality birds. The project involved private, state, and federal resources and relied on the expertise and cooperation of many individuals. By the end of 1981, more than 6,000 giant Canada geese had been released at 83 sites in 26 counties in North Dakota.

 

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

 

Franklin's Gull during Spring Migration

May 3, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

This small gull breeds in central provinces of Canada and adjacent states of the northern United States. It is a migratory bird, wintering in Argentina, the Caribbean, Chile, and Peru.

 

Great Blue Heron during Fall Migration

October 6, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

The great blue heron is the largest North American heron with a wingspan up to 7.5 feeet, a height of up to 4.5 feet and a weight of 4 to almost 8 pounds.

 

Mallard during Spring Migration

April 23, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

The mallard is commonly found in North Dakota from spring to fall.

 

Ring-billed Gull during Fall Migration

October 6, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

The ring-billed gulls is a medium sized gull that breeds in Canada and the northern United States. They are migratory and most move south to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, and the Great Lakes.

 

Snow Geese during Spring Migration

March 24, 2017 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Snow geese breed north of the timberline in Canada and Alaska and spens winters in southern United States and Mexico. They were heading to the Arctic tundra.

 

White Pelican

June 21, 2018 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. Both very large and plump, it has an overall length of about 50–70 inches, courtesy of the huge beak which measures 11.3–15.2 inches in males and 10.3–14.2 inches in females. It has a wingspan of about 95–120 in (10 feet) The species also has the second largest average wingspan of any North American bird, after the California condor. This large wingspan allows the bird to easily use soaring flight for migration. Body weight can range between 7.7 and 30 lb, although typically these birds average between 11 and 20 lb.

 

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

 

White-tailed Deer

March 27, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

White-tailed deer can run over 30 miles per hour, jump nearly 9 feet high and 33 feet long.

 

Snowy Owl

March 1, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Snowy owls have yellow eyes and black beaks. They are 20–28 inches long, with a wingspan of 4 to hearly 5 feet and can weigh anywhere from 3.5 to 6.6 lbs. The average lifespan in the wild is ten years. It is the heaviest owl in North America.

 

Snowy Owl

March 1, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

 

Snowy owls nest in the Arctic tundra north of latitude 60° north. Some winter south through Canada and northern states.

 

Snowy Owl

March 1, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

 

Snowy owls eat primarily lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season, They feed on a wide variety of small mammals such as meadow voles and deer mice, but will take advantage of larger prey, including hares, muskrats, marmots, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, prairie dogs, rats, moles and entrapped furbearers. Birds preyed upon include ptarmigan, ducks, geese, shorebirds, pheasants, grouse, coots, grebes, gulls, songbirds, and even other raptors, including other owl species. Most of the owls' hunting is done in the "sit and wait" style; prey may be captured on the ground or in the air, or fish may be snatched off the surface of bodies of water using their sharp talons. Each bird must capture roughly 7 to 12 mice per day to meet its food requirement and can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year. Unlike most owls that hunt at night, snowy owls are also diurnal and hunt during the day and night

 

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

 

Sharp-tailed Grouse

April 3, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Aerial Combat

 

Sharp-tailed Grouse

April 21, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Leapfrog

 

 

Sharp-tailed Grouse

April 1, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Sharp-tailed grouse dance in open areas called as leks with other males. Long Lake National Wildlife sets up a blind in the spring where the grouse can be observed at a let. The males display by stamping their feet rapidly, about 20 times per second. They fan out their wings and and rattle their tail feathers. Males will intermittently attack each other. Purple neck sacs are inflated and deflated during display. The males use "cooing" calls also to attract and compete for females.

 

Sharp-tailed Grouse

April 9, 2015 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

This was my first decent photophraph of a sharp-tailed grouse, showing both wings extended.

 

Sharp-tailed Grouse

April 21, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Getting Up Close and Personal

 

Swainson Hawk

May 22, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Swainson’s hawks have one of the longest migrations of any raptor and will travel from their wintering range in Argentina all the way to their nesting areas in the northern plains and southern Canada. This round trip can amount to 6,000 miles. Three age groups are seen: adult, one-year old and juvenile. Females are larger than males. Color varies from light-morph, rufous-morph to dark-morph. The Swainson’s hawk is one of the largest raptors. They breed on open areas and prairies of western states from Texas to North Dakota and over to California and western states.

 

 

 

Swainson Hawk

May 22, 2018 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

Length averages 19 inches, wingspan 51 inches and weight nearly 2 pounds although some Swainson’s will weigh nearly 3 pounds. Key recognition features on the classic adult are the red bib on the upper chest with on the unmarked white belly and a two-toned underwing with a pale wing front. A white throat patch may also be seen. The rufous morph has a rufous belly and red markings on the pale front underwing. The dark morph has all dark body and underwings.

 

 

Western Meadowlark and Sharp-tailed Grouse

April 21, 2016 Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

There were over 20 sharp-tailed grouse dancing at the lek when this western meadowlark showed up, first landing and singing on the roof of the blind, then flying on to the lek and getting into a fight with several sharp-tailed grouse.

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