Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region

Migration Update October 14, 2009

Fall has definitely arrived. We have had freezing temperatures dipping in to the low teens during the last week along with snow, drizzle, and some rain. Area roads are becoming muddy again.

With the changing weather we have had significant migration onto the refuge. Thousands of new ducks have arrived, including mallards, gadwalls, widgeon, redheads, canvasbacks, ruddy ducks, green winged teal, and shovelers. The ducks are feeding heavily on flooded areas of wildrice, burreed, and submerged aquatic vegetation such as sago pondweed. Canada goose numbers continue to build. Dozens of Northern harriers can be spotted hunting the marshes for blackbirds. Many other raptors have moved onto the Refuge in the last week, including bald eagles, golden eagles, ferruginous hawks, prairie falcons, kestrels, and the first rough legged hawks of the season. A few of the last shorebirds can be spotted on Pool 9 feeding before continuing south. Large flocks of sandhill cranes have been on the move, with many stopping to roost for the night on the larger pools. Several species of sparrows are here in large numbers, feeding heavily on Nuttals sunflower seeds.

The first trumpeter swans have arrived back at Lacreek NWR. Many more are expected over the next month. Refuge Biologists completed the annual trumpeter swan production survey in September. A milestone was reached when a total of 523 trumpeter swans were counted in the Sandhills and southwestern South Dakota. This is the first time the High Plains flock has exceeded 500 birds. In addition, a goal of 50 successful breeding pairs was set for this flock, and 60 successful breeding pairs were counted! As the sandhills marshes continue to freeze up, the Refuge will see increasing numbers of swans. They will spend the fall feeding heavily on sumberged arrowhead and sago pondweed tubers that grew on the Refuge during the summer months. Numbers will vary throughout the winter, as temperatures fluctuate. During warmer periods, swan numbers may exceed 300 on the Refuge. During colder periods that freeze up much of the food sources, numbers will drop below 100. The trumpeters move south onto the spring fed rivers including the Niobrara, Snake, North, Middle, and South Loup Rivers, and the Dismal River. Over the next month, peak numbers of ducks and trumpeter swans will make for great viewing opportunities.

Hunting seasons will be in full swing on the Refuge this weekend. The general pheasant season, along with grouse, opens on Lacreek NWR on Saturday, October 17th. Archery deer season is currently open. It will be closed during the Refuge muzzleload deer season, which runs October 21 through October 27th. If you are planning to hunt on Lacreek NWR, make sure to read and understand the regulations. Regulations on Lacreek NWR are more restrictive than hunting on surrounding lands. These regulations can be found ot this website in the Recreation section.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to call Headquarters at (605)685-6508 during our normal buisiness hours of 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM MST Monday through Friday, excluding Holidays. Enjoy your visit!

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

Migration Updates:

September 29, 2009
August 24, 2009
July 10, 2009
June 1, 2009
April 30, 2009
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

Last updated: November 2, 2012