Watchable Wildlife

Bird watching is one of the most popular forms of nature-related recreation. All you need is a good pair of eyes (though binoculars sure help!) and a field guide. The following information should also help get you started.

When to look for birds

The time of day is important if you want to make the most of your bird-watching hours. Songbirds are easiest to spot during the first hours after dawn and before sunset, while vultures, hawks, and eagles are likeliest to be seen at midday. Birding check lists can be helpful.

Birding tips

  • Look, listen, and move carefully.
  • If you hear a sound or notice movement, your goal is to locate, identify, and observe the bird without frightening it away.
  • Keep conversation to a minimum. Avoid abrupt movements. Remember that experienced birders usually travel less than a mile per hour on foot.
  • Watch for signs of alarm in birds: a freeze in posture, a cocked head, a half-raising of the wings, and so on. These tell you to stop moving until the bird calms down or to back away if necessary.
  • Study an unfamiliar bird thoroughly before consulting your field guide, and take notes if necessary.

 In conjunction with local birding clubs and birding enthusiasts, the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department has made available birding checklist:

  • Cross Ranch State Park Bird Checklist Bird Checklist
  • Fort Ransom State Park Bird Checklist
  • Lake Metigoshe State Park Bird Checklist
  • Lake Sakakawea State Park Bird Checklist
  • Turtle River State Park Bird Checklist

Please Remember

  • While driving through our park and recreation areas, please remember animals have the right away on roadways and trails. Don’t honk at animals, this stresses them out and in some cases can make animals act aggressively.
  • Please watch your step as turtles and some birds can nest on the ground. Lake Metigoshe State Park and Turtle River have a large number of turtles.  
  • Do not feed wildlife. Animals can easily pick up scavenging practices, so never feed them. Animals stay healthier when you do not feed them. And, once they learn to beg, they can become aggressive, more likely to get injured by vehicles, and become seriously ill. They do not need your food handouts to survive. You can help us curtail this unwanted behavior from animals by putting your food away and moving away from the animal.
  • Don’t touch animals
  • Keep distance for viewing Stay at least 75 feet (23 meters) or about two buslengths away from all wildlife. We advise keeping at least 120 feet (36 meters) or about three bus-lengths away from black bears, moose, and mountain lions.