The Upper Souris NWR has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy, and Lake Darling is listed as a critical habitat for the threatened piping plover. Grassland species of conservation concern include grasshopper sparrow and northern harrier, Baird's sparrow, Sprague's pipet, Leconte's sparrow, Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow, marbled godwit and upland sandpiper are fairly common.
Other species of interest to birders include sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge, five species of grebes including Clark's grebe, Cooper's hawk, horned lark, Savannah and vesper sparrows.
Among the thousands of waterfowl using the refuge seasonally are snow geese, tundra swans, mallard, pintail, canvasback, redhead, bufflehead and ruddy ducks. Yellow rail, a species of special concern, breeds at Upper Souris, as does the threatened piping plover. Whooping cranes occasionally stop during migration. Waterfowl numbers may exceed 200,000 during spring and fall migration.
For a list of common birds in our area, please see the Along the Souris River Loop Bird List.
Follow Us Online
While Lake Darling was originally intended as a water supply reservoir for downstream refuges, it has become a productive fishery and important fall staging areas for snow geese.