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Birding in South Dakota

South Dakota is perfectly positioned with a mix of landscapes and habitat types, making it a wonderful spot for birding enthusiasts.

The state is close enough to Canada to attract wintering species, such as snowy owls and snow buntings. Missouri River reservoirs attract bald eagles, waterfowl, gulls and terns. Native prairies provide habitat for greater prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse, which gather on breeding sites called leks each spring. Globally rare species, such as the Baird's sparrow, are special finds for dedicated birders. Endangered whooping cranes are rare, but regular migrants through central South Dakota.

Eastern South Dakota's "pothole" wetlands provide vital nesting and migratory habitat for ducks, geese and shorebirds. Several national wildlife refuges in the state attract visitors from throughout the continent to view impressive concentrations of ducks and geese. "East meets West" is demonstrated by the possibility of seeing hybrids between spotted towhee and Eastern towhees and between Bullock's and Baltimore orioles.

South Dakota's state parks provide many opportunities to view and enjoy breeding, wintering and migrating birds.

Learn More

Regional birding guides

Bird booklets

Request a copy of the following publications

  • Backyard Birds of South Dakota booklet
  • Owls of South Dakota booklet

Birding at SD State Parks

Bird Banding

Osprey Recovery