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Breeding Birds of North Dakota

Badlands Community Complex


This unique community complex represents one of the more prevalent types of environment in the Southwestern Slope Region. The largest tract of badlands, occupying about 2,000 square miles, is located along the Little Missouri River and its tributaries within Dunn, McKenzie, Golden Valley, Billings, Slope, and Bowman Counties. Smaller tracts occur along the Cannonball, Heart, Little Knife, and White Earth rivers and along the upper stretch of the Missouri River valley within Williams and McKenzie Counties.

JPG -- Picture of a badlands community.

Plate 15. Badlands Community Complex. Billings County, August 1975 (photo by John T. Lokemoen). Principal shrub species on the sparsely vegetated clay-scoria slopes include creeping juniper, soapwood yucca, spiny saltbush, greasewood, rabbitbrush, and silver sage. The small interrupted expanses of grassland and local thickets of small trees are also characteristic. Breeding birds of frequent occurrence are represented by the Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Say's Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Rock Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Loggerhead Shrike, Spotted Rufous-sided Towhee, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, and Field Sparrow.

The badlands community complex is composed of several distinct habitats that are interspersed in a mosaic pattern. Badly eroded clay-scoria slopes, usually sparsely vegetated with scattered low shrubs and fortes, are prominent throughout. The principal shrub or woody species in these situations include creeping juniper, soapwood yucca, spiny saltbush, greasewood, prickly pear, rabbitbrush, and silver sage. Some of the more characteristic herbaceous plants are as follows: woodsia fern, Indian ricegrass, mariposa lily, branched eriogonum, golden eriogonum, large-flowered dock, rillscale, moundscale, winter fat, false lupine, racemose milkvetch, combleaf milkvetch, slender loco, butte primrose, butte candle, narrowleaf beardtongue, broomweed, and Colorado rubber plant. Small interrupted expanses of grassland, represented chiefly by mixed-grass prairie associations, are of regular occurrence throughout the badlands, and, locally, in draws or on north- or east-facing escarpments, typical prairie thickets of small trees and tall shrubs also occur.

JPG -- Badlands complex with Western deciduous forest.

Plate 16. Badlands Community Complex with stands of Western Deciduous Forest. Dunn County, August 1975 (photo by John T. Lokemoen). Principal trees in these stands are represented by quaking aspen, paper birch, western black birch, bur oak, and green ash. Breeding birds of frequent occurrence include the Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, Least Flycatcher, Black-billed Magpie, Veery, Mountain Bluebird, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Ovenbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, and Spotted Rufous-sided Towhee.

Characteristic Breeding Birds

Primary intraneous species (including well-marked subspecies): Secondary intraneous species: Extraneous species:
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