Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region

Migration Update April 30, 2009

The migration is in full swing at the refuge!  Mornings and evenings are the best times to view wildlife at the refuge.  Call ahead to the refuge to check on road conditions if you are planning a visit – 605-685-6508.

New birds are showing up daily.  Our most exciting visitors are a pair of whooping cranes that showed up April 26 and are still on the refuge.  They have been seen regularly on the north side of Pool 10 and on private property just north of Pool 10.  Refuge staff and neighboring landowners have also seen the cranes fly across Pools 1, 7, & 8.  These cranes are part of a wild flock of whooping cranes called the Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population, which consists of less than 200 individuals.  This flock winters on Aransas NWR in southern coastal Texas, and breeds in Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories, Canada.  So to see these two is extremely rare.  Anyone who has the chance should come out to the refuge and see these majestic endangered birds.  The private landowner has restricted travel onto his property until the whooping cranes leave.  We have not posted any closures on the refuge, but for obvious reasons, ask that you give the whooping cranes plenty of space.  They are very sensitive to disturbance.  The best chance to spot the whooping cranes would be from the parking lot area at the northeast entrance to the refuge.  They have been flying out as early as 5:45 am.  No guarantees, but might be a chance to see a wild whooping crane in South Dakota.

We have had several other birds arrive too.  Our shorebird numbers and diversity are increasing daily with the arrival of marbled godwits, willets, Wilson’s phalaropes, American avocets, and common snipe.  Shorebirds can be seen in the shallow areas of Pools 3, 5, 6, and 9.  Many new marsh birds and wading birds have showed up in the last week.  Black-crowned night herons and American bitterns can be seen by Pool 9 and the pelican islands; white-faced ibis were seen in Pool 5, and if you listen close you may hear a sora rail.  At the Little White River Recreation Area you can find many species of waterfowl, coots, Clark’s grebes, and western grebes.  There are a couple pairs of trumpeter swans still hanging around Pool 8; we are hoping they stick around to nest.  Other recently observed birds include a peregrine falcon, Swainson’s hawks, a belted kingfisher, Forester’s terns, red-breasted nuthatches, and a few species of sparrows.

We recently completed our annual waterfowl pair count and found 938 pairs on the refuge.

Species – Number of pairs
Mallard – 135
Gadwall – 83
American wigeon – 13
Green-winged teal – 45
Blue-winged teal – 250
Northern shoveler – 144
Northern pintail – 29
Wood duck – 4
Redhead – 17
Canvasback – 3
Lesser Scaup – 35
Ring-necked duck – 40
Common goldeneye – 4
Bufflehead – 26
Hooded merganser – 1
Canada goose – 107
Trumpeter swan – 2

Thinking of making a trip to Lacreek NWR?  Check out the latest weather forecast for the Lacreek area at    

Migration Updates:

April 28, 2009
April 14, 2009
April 7, 2009
March 26, 2009
March 2, 2009
February 2, 2009
January 7, 2009
December 18, 2008
December 10, 2008
November 12, 2008
October 31, 2008
October 14, 2008
September 25, 2008
August 4, 2008
June 12, 2008
May 13, 2008
April 21, 2008
March 27, 2008
March 3, 2008

Last updated: November 2, 2012