North Dakota Field Office
Mountain-Prairie Region

North Dakota Birding Hotline Reports

December 2008

The North Dakota Birding Hotline is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Dakota Birding Society.  To access the telephone birding hotline, call 701-355-8554.

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Welcome to the North Dakota Rare Bird Alert compiled by the North Dakota Birding Society.  This report was prepared on Tuesday, December 30, 2008.

This week, more Christmas Bird Count results including one real highlight.

glaucous gull by Art SowlesThe GLAUCOUS GULL that was seen west of Manvel by Mike Jacobs on December 22 was considerate enough to make an appearance within the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks count circle on the following day.  In addition to Jacobs, the gull was also seen by Dave Lambeth, Eve Freeberg, and Russ and Pat Wilber.  Lambeth also saw thousands of SNOW BUNTINGS along Grand Forks County Road 33.  Despite adverse weather conditions on the December 21 count day, 41 species were recorded, bringing the week's total to 49.  Other highlights included a new high of 678 PINE SISKINS, 15 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, and two HOARY REDPOLLS.  In addition to the gull, count week brought sightings of a COOPER'S HAWK and only the second record for BUFFLEHEAD.  For more information, contact Dave at

The Fargo/Moorhead count, held on December 20, was also conducted under lousy weather conditions.  Bob O'Connor says the counters ended up with 42 species, including 36 on the North Dakota side.  Highlights included PURPLE FINCH, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, GREAT HORNED OWL, BROWN CREEPER, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, COOPER'S HAWK, and AMERICAN KESTREL.  For details, contact Bob at

From north Fargo, Mel and Elaine Bennefeld's yard was visited by two COMMON REDPOLLSon December 23, and they say the PILEATED WOODPECKERS have been stopping twice a day.  Mel and Elaine also report a fly-over by about 100 MALLARDS on December 29.  They were heading east toward Minnesota.  You can reach the Bennefelds at

Rich Cunningham watched a NORTHERN HARRIER fly down Tyler Coulee in northwestern Bismarck on December 23.  He's at

From New Town, Alvin Houser discovered a dead clay-colored sparrow in the yard on December 27 and brought it in for Bernice to identify.  She believes it was the one that had been seen in the yard until the last big snowfall.  Their yard is still attracting an AMERICAN ROBIN, large numbers of HOUSE FINCHES and COMMON REDPOLLS, plus one HOARY REDPOLL.  The Houser's Christmas Day drive north from Bismarck along Highway 83 revealed large numbers of CANADA GEESE, plus hundreds of RING-NECKED PHEASANTS along the road between Wilton and Underwood.  For more information, it's

Mo O'Mara's December 28 drive north of East Fairview turned up two adult BALD EAGLES right across the road from each other, as well as a dark-morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK flying nearby.  For details, it's

That concludes this week’s report from the North Dakota Birding Society.

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Welcome to the North Dakota Rare Bird Alert compiled by the North Dakota Birding Society.  This report was prepared on Tuesday, December 23, 2008.

Happy Holidays.

Christmas Bird Count results and re-schedulings top our report this week.

merlin by USFWSCounters recorded 45 species or forms in the Jamestown count on December 17.  Larry Igl says the highlights included two CANVASBACKS, NORTHERN SHOVELER, two adult GOLDEN EAGLES, MERLIN, and HOARY REDPOLL.  Count week sightings included WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL and MERLIN.  For more information, contact Larry Igl at 701-253-5511.

The Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge count on December 19 turned up 29 species.  Ron Martin reports the highlights were NORTHERN HARRIER, the first-ever BROWN THRASHER for the count, two HOARY REDPOLLS, GOLDEN EAGLE, MERLIN, seven EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES, and BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE.  For details, contact Ron at

From South Dakota, the Shadehill count on December 18 found 40 species, one less than last year's record high.  Dan Svingen notes that about 8,000 CANADA GEESE and 4,000 MALLARDS were present on Shadehill Reservoir.  Other unusual sightings were SNOW GEESE, SHORT-EARED OWL, SANDHILL CRANE, GYRFALCON, and EASTERN SCREECH-OWL.  The count also registered some record highs:  3,114 RING-NECKED PHEASANTS, 483 SHARP-TAILED GROUSE, 54 WILD TURKEYS, 31 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, and 10 GOLDEN EAGLES, among others.  For additional information on that count, check in with Dan Svingen at

You can still participate in one of the remaining or re-scheduled counts.  The second annual Denbigh count in McHenry County is set for January 2.  Meet at the headquarters building at the Denbigh Experimental Forest at 8:15.  The Devils Lake count has been re-scheduled for Saturday, December 27.  Contact Charlie Christianson at 218-779-3506.  The Garrison Dam count is also set for December 27.  Meet at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge headquarters at 7:45.  And the Bismarck-Mandan count is scheduled for Saturday, January 3.  Contact Corey Ellingson at

Some yard birds in Bismarck:  Mark Gonzalez recorded 12 species in his yard on December 20 and 21.  They included the first PURPLE FINCHES in a long time as well as a CHUKAR.  You can reach Mark at 701-250-4443, extension 106.  Corey Ellingson's yard received visits from an AMERICAN ROBIN, COMMON GRACKLE, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK on December 20 and 21.  He also received a picture of a male WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL taken a few blocks away.  Corey is

From Fargo, Connie Norheim reports the first COMMON REDPOLLS in her yard on December 19.  You can call her at 701-232-4386.

At Buxton, Douglas Norquist has had several visits from a MOURNING DOVE in mid-December.  He also reports that DARK-EYED JUNCOS are quite common, including some of the Oregon race.  Doug recorded his first COMMON REDPOLL of the season on December 18.  He notes that the dozen or so EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES first seen in town last spring are quite conspicuous.  Doug also has received reports of a NORTHERN CARDINAL in Mayville and a BALD EAGLE south of Buxton.  For details, call him at 701-847-2210.

Wayne Easley discovered a SNOWY OWL just northwest of Drake on December 17, and another one the following day about four miles west of Fessenden.  He believes both were juveniles.  Call Wayne at 701-324-2344.

Dave and Ellin Lindee saw a SNOWY OWL about 25 miles southwest of Minot on December 17.  One week earlier, they witnessed three juvenile BALD EAGLES about 10 miles south of Berthold.  You can reach them at

Kay Buri reports a mature BALD EAGLE has been seen at the OWLS site between Balfour and Bergen since early November.  Call her at 701-739-7855 for specifics.

Mark Sherfy saw mature BALD EAGLES at separate locations on December 21--one just north of Falkirk and the other one mile East of Velva.  He's at 701-253-5504.

Peder Stenslie has been visiting just north of New Town.  He and his children saw and fed 61 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and 29 COMMON REDPOLLS on December 21 and 22, and had a close encounter with a DOWNY WOODPECKER.  The yard is also visited by both yellow-shafted and red-shafted NORTHERN FLICKERS.  A foray south of New Town produced a large flock of LAPLAND LONGSPURS and SNOW BUNTINGS plus a few HORNED LARKS.  You can reach Peder at

One final reminder to Christmas Bird Count compilers:  please post some highlights as soon as possible.

That concludes this week’s report from the North Dakota Birding Society.

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Welcome to the North Dakota Rare Bird Alert compiled by the North Dakota Birding Society.  This report was prepared on Tuesday, December 16, 2008.

One of North Dakota's "hypotheticals" picked an odd time to show up.

Leighann Gregoire spotted a CAROLINA WREN in her yard in south Bismarck on December 11.  Leighann told Clark Talkington the bird was only present for a few minutes.  And, a belated report: the Gregoire yard was visited by a BULLOCK'S ORIOLE back on May 27.  For details on those sightings, contact Clark at

snowy owl by USFWSRon Martin's December 12 drive past the Minot lagoons turned up two SNOWY OWLS, a BALD EAGLE and a RED-TAILED HAWK.  Ron also had a look at a small patch of open water in the Souris River at Roosevelt Park in Minot that day.  He counted 90 MALLARDS being accompanied by four CANADA GEESE and two WOOD DUCKS.  You can reach Ron at

An AMERICAN ROBIN showed up at Bernice Houser's heated bird bath near New Town on December 12.  On the following day, strong winds brought in a flock of COMMON REDPOLLS, the return of a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, and two SHARP-TAILED GROUSE.  For more information, it's

Diane Bingeman doesn't normally see the species this time of year, but two DARK-EYED JUNCOS joined the HOUSE SPARROWS in her yard near Beach on December 13.  She reported a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK fly-by one day earlier.  You can reach Diane at

Larry and Jan Jones reported two HARRIS' SPARROWS in their yard near Bowdon on December 13.  They told Wayne Easley the birds had been there for three or four days.  Wayne also passed along a report from Lonnie Eichele, who saw a SNOWY OWL north of the Manfred Adventist Church that day.  For details on those sightings, contact Wayne at 701-324-2344.

The first COMMON REDPOLLS of the season made their appearance in Rick Holbrook's yard at Fargo on December 12.  Contact Rick at

One more Christmas Bird Count to tell you about:  Shadehill, South Dakota, count has been re-scheduled for Thursday, December 18.  Meet at the Summerville store at 7:30 MST, which is located along South Dakota Highway 73 in Shadehill.  For more information, contact Dan Svingen at

And, another reminder:  we want some highlights from your recently-completed Christmas Bird Count.  Please get them posted as soon as possible.

That concludes this week’s report from the North Dakota Birding Society.

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Welcome to the North Dakota Rare Bird Alert compiled by the North Dakota Birding Society.  This report was prepared on Tuesday, December 9, 2008.

A rare wintertime appearance is at the top of our report this week.

There are just a few winter records for the species in North Dakota, but Dave and Cec Lambeth saw a GRAY CATBIRD in a shelterbelt near Grand Forks Air Force Base on December 5.  Dave believes the shelterbelt may be a food source for the bird.  For more information, contact him at

Betsy Batsham-Cunningham had her season-first COMMON REDPOLLS at her Grand Forks feeders on December 6.  She says they joined the DARK-EYED JUNCOS, PINE SISKINS, and some HOUSE FINCHES at her feeders.  Along the Greenway, she added a pair of northbound AMERICAN ROBINS and a BALD EAGLE.  Betsy is at

Wayne Easley and his wife discovered a SNOWY OWL on a fencepost in southern Sheridan County on December 6.  He describes the location as along Highway 14, south of the junction with Highway 200.  You can reach Wayne at 701-234-2344.

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK has been spending time in Sherry Leslie's yard near Burlington.  Contact her at

A very late CLAY-COLORED SPARROW visited Bernice Houser's feeders near New Town on December 2.  She says it's the latest sighting of the species by almost two months.  That same date also brought a yellow-shafted NORTHERN FLICKER and four season-first COMMON REDPOLLS.  You can reach Bernice at

evening grosbeakThe Garrison Dam area and portions of McLean County proved very productive for Ron Martin, David Walsh, and Corey Ellingson on December 6.  They witnessed a GREAT BLUE HERON and a BELTED KINGFISHER below the dam, plus three THAYER'S GULLS and three GLAUCOUS GULLS at the tailrace.  The area also held 12 species of waterfowl.  In McLean County, they added a GOLDEN EAGLE, PRAIRIE FALCON, two SNOWY OWLS, 200 LAPLAND LONGSPURS, 800 SNOW BUNTINGS, and 1,060 PINE SISKINS.  Most of the 50 AMERICAN ROBINS on the day were at Lake Sakakawea State Park, where they also saw three PINE GROSBEAKS and an EVENING GROSBEAK.  They saw a RED-TAILED HAWK at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.  An unharvested sunflower field held about 1,000 PINE SISKINS being watched by a MERLIN.  They also saw three NORTHERN SHRIKES and 40 COMMON REDPOLLS. In Velva, they added four COMMON RAVENS.  On December 7, Ron covered his winter raptor survey route in McHenry County.  On that route and on his drive back to Sawyer, he counted 13 BALD EAGLES, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, GOLDEN EAGLE, GREAT HORNED OWL, SNOWY OWL, and 15 COMMON RAVENS, plus 400 PINE SISKINS in a sunflower field near Granville.  For more information, contact Ron at

Here's one more Christmas Bird Count for your schedule.  The Devils Lake count has been set for Saturday, December 20.  Meet at the Cedar Inn at 7:30am where routes will be assigned, or at Kneadful Things from noon to 1:00.  If you have questions, call Charlie Christianson at 218-779-3506 or 701-775-8864.

And, this reminder:  if you're coordinating a Christmas Bird Count, please post some highlights as soon as possible after the conclusion of your count.

That concludes this week’s report from the North Dakota Birding Society.

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Welcome to the North Dakota Rare Bird Alert compiled by the North Dakota Birding Society.  This report was prepared on Tuesday, December 2, 2008.

Not one, but two rare gulls at separate locations in one day.

glaucous gull by Art Sowls & USFWSRon Martin discovered a GLAUCOUS GULL at the Garrison Dam tailrace on November 28, and then found another one on the ice at Lake Audubon.  His other finds that day included a late GREAT BLUE HERON at the marsh below Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery, 16 species of waterfowl, 165 AMERICAN COOTS on Lake Audubon, three SNOWY OWLS in McLean County, and two WOOD DUCKS and a LESSER SCAUP with the MALLARDS and CANADA GEESE on open spots in the Souris River in Minot.  On November 29, Ron birded the Denbigh Experimental Forest in McHenry County.  He recorded three NORTHERN GOSHAWKS, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, two TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES, 10 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 55 PURPLE FINCHES, 19 RED CROSSBILLS, two WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, and 16 COMMON REDPOLLS.  He also watched two NORTHERN GOSHAWKS chasing each other near Sawyer, and another one over the town.  Ron's son Lincoln saw a SNOWY OWL southwest of Sawyer.  For more information on those sightings, contact Ron at

Kim Breuer was delighted to see a red-shafted NORTHERN FLICKER in Minot on November 28.  For details, it's

pine grosbeak by James Leupold & USFWSCorey Ellingson passes along a second-hand report of a bright male PINE GROSBEAK in south Bismarck.  The bird's photo appeared in the November 26th Bismarck Tribune, but no date was listed.  Corey says he knows of only one other sighting of the species in Bismarck since 1995.  Contact him at

A female GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET stopped at Dan Buchanan's feeders in Jamestown on November 26.  He says a mixed flock of PINE SISKINS and various finches was foraging nearby.  On the following day, Dan found a NORTHERN SHRIKE near Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.  You can reach him at 701-252-6604.

Mark Otnes visited Pipestem Dam and Jamestown Dam for five hours on Novemer 28.  In addition to the PINE SISKINS that Mark says were "common and everywhere," he saw four PURPLE FINCHES, a flock of six WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, three COMMON REDPOLLS, seven RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, an immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and a GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, but only one flock of 10 waxwing species.  For more information, call Mark at 701-241-4194.

Rick Gjervold's Novemer 29 was special, but so was his December 1.  His yard in north Fargo was visited by a male NORTHERN CARDINAL.  There was only one such visit in the previous 20 years.  He's at

Dave Lambeth's feeder in Grand Forks attracted a CHIPPING SPARROW on November 28.  Dave says it's the second-latest appearance for the species.  He also reported one or two female RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS along the Greenway, and 10 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS feeding behind the Chester Fritz Library on the University of North Dakota campus.  Dave adds that a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW has visited his feeders recently, and was sometimes joined by a second.  He notes that small flocks of redpolls have been easy to find.  Contact Dave at

And there's another batch of Christmas Bird Counts.  The Minot count is set for December 28.  Meet at 7:45am at McDonald's on Broadway, or contact Ron Martin at  The Bismarck-Mandan count is scheduled for December 20.  Meet at Hardee's at 7:30am.  Corey Ellingson has more details at  The Medora count will take place on December 21, and the Teddy Roosevelt National Park North Unit count is set for December 22.  If you can help with the North Unit count, contact Terry Lincoln at the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck.

That concludes this week’s report from the North Dakota Birding Society.

Last updated: February 19, 2013