Birding South Dakota

South Dakota is a study in habitat variety: large reservoirs from the Missouri River, mountains of the Black Hills, and tallgrass prairie and farmland. A visit to the 109-mile Mickelson Trail, located in the western section of South Dakota’s Black Hills region, provides excellent terrain diversity, where 176 of South Dakota’s 438 birds can potentially be observed. This area contains many pothole lakes as well as mixed-grass native prairie, ideally suited to nesting waterfowl and songbirds, respectively. As such, optimal times for visitors to bird the Mickelson Trail range from April through October.

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  • South dakota Birding & Nature Festivals

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BWD Festival Finder

During the peak of bird migration, there's nothing more exciting than attending a birding festival. The birds are spectacular and the people are great. If you haven't tried a festival yet, this is a must-do for next season! Use BWD's Birding and Nature Festival Finder to help you select from the many available in special areas all over the country.
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  • South dakota Birding Hotspots

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Three-towed woodpecker photo by R. Knight / Wikimedia.

Seeking South Dakota's Birds

South Dakota is a land of tremendous habitat diversity, resulting in a great number of bird species. From the vast prairie grasslands in the east to the arid Badlands and dark, forested Black Hills in the west, the state boasts more than 400 species of birds. And you’ll likely have most birding areas to yourself, because South Dakota is the sixteenth-largest state in the United States—covering some 75,000 square miles— yet has fewer than 1 million people living within its borders.
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