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Breeding Birds of North Dakota


North Dakota, the only Great Plains state that lacks a state ornithological society, has for too long been neglected by field ornithologists. A few counties, especially those close to Kenmare, Fargo, and Bismarck, have been intensively worked for years, but the avifauna of many parts of this fascinating state has until now been known only by inference.

When our colleague, the late Thomas D. Burleigh, went before the Georgia State Legislature to request funds for publication of his Georgia Birds the Delegates were impressed by the fact that he had worked in every county of that State. Robert E. Stewart has not only performed extensive quantitative field work in every North Dakota county; he has also conducted surveys of avian environmental relationships in virtually every township.

In this age of rapid changes in land use, this sound documentation of our present wildlife resources carries special significance; it lays a firm foundation for the future monitoring of changes in bird populations. Even in the wide open spaces of North Dakota, man is becoming aware that he lives in a finite world. To live a healthy and prosperous life he must have clean air, pure water, and productive soil. The necessary control of pests and the maintenance of soil fertility must now be considered in the light of their total effect upon the environment. Just as the caged canary of yesteryear warned the miner of the presence of poisonous gases, the free-flying birds of today can give the ecologist an early warning of detrimental trends in his surroundings.

Having had the pleasure of being the junior author of Robert E. Stewart's first book, "The Birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia" in 1958, I can appreciate perhaps better than anyone else the tremendous amount of painstaking field work and compilation that were involved in the present volume. The results presented here are all new material, based on original research within the boundaries of North Dakota.

No other state can boast so complete a picture of the distribution and abundance of breeding birds as this volume now supplies for North Dakota.

Chandler S. Robbins
Migratory Bird and Habitat Research Lab.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Laurel, Maryland

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