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North Dakota Bird Life: Tracking Changes Over a Quarter Century

Douglas H. Johnson, Lawrence D. Igl, and Christopher J. Johnson

Originally published in: North Dakota Outdoors (June, 1997)

Official Publication of the State Game and Fish Department
100 North Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, North Dakota 58501-5095


In the early 1960's, two wildlife biologists, Robert "Bob" Stewart, Sr., and Harold "Hal" Kantrud, began censusing breeding waterfowl throughout North Dakota. Their objective was to learn how waterfowl were distributed across the state and determine which habitat types waterfowl preferred. Stewart and Kantrud's work was instrumental in focusing the service's wetland acquisition program and guiding future management plans.

Given the service's interests at that time, Stewart—a seasoned ornithologist and research biologist—and Kantrud—a fledgling wildlife biologist—could have been content with just collecting waterfowl data. Ducks were—and continue to be—an important resource in the northern Great Plains. But the two biologists' interests were broader, so they took it upon themselves to count all birds they encountered. Since they were in the field anyway, it wouldn't take much more effort to tally the rest of the species.

At the urging of colleague Lewis Cowardin, Stewart and Kantrud adopted a statistical sampling approach, choosing at random 130 quarter-sections throughout North Dakota. That scheme allowed them to estimate the number of breeding pairs for all bird species in the state, in much the same way the Gallup poll can determine opinions of an entire state by asking only a few hundred people.

In the spring and summer of 1967, Stewart and Kantrud surveyed breeding birds throughout North Dakota. Findings from their study were published a few years later in The Auk, a professional ornithological journal.


Table of Contents


This resource is based on the following source:

Johnson, Douglas H., Lawrence D. Igl and Christopher J. Johnson.  1997.  North Dakota Bird Life: Tracking changes over a quarter century.  North Dakota Outdoors 59(10)10-15.

This resource should be cited as:

Johnson, Douglas H., Lawrence D. Igl and Christopher J. Johnson.  1997.  North Dakota Bird Life: Tracking changes over a quarter century.  North Dakota Outdoors 59(10)10-15.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/birdlife/index.htm (Version 31JUL97).


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