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Bird Checklists of the United States

Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

small state map showing location

Ortonville, Minnesota


Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Big Stone Lake - Whetstone River Flood control project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers transferred lands to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, establishing the refuge in 1975. The refuge now encompasses 11,275 acres of the Minnesota River valley in Western Minnesota. A unique visual and geographical feature is the red lichen-covered granite outcrops for which the refuge was named.

Big Stone is primarily a grassland system with an interesting prairie-floodplain forest transition. Wildlife diversity is sustained by the variety of habitat types available, including native prairie, seeded grasses, wetlands, wetlands, wet meadows, floodplain forests, granite outcrops, wood lots, agricultural food plots, and various successional stages of trees and brush along sub-irrigated pool edges.

In addition to the variety of habitats, a combination of eastern and western bird species migrate through the Minnesota River valley, and Central and Mississippi Flyway; waterfowl populations intermingle throughout our Flyway border area. These conditions offer both the serious and casual "birder" some outstanding birdwatching opportunities.

The following bird list contains 240 species arranged in approximate taxonomic groups (solid lines) that have been observed in the area since 1971.


Seasonal occurrence and abundance are coded as follows:

Sp - Spring - March to May
S - Summer - June to August
F - Fall - September to November
W - Winter - December to February

c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, in low numbers
r - rare: occassionally present in some years
* - nests locally


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon r - r -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Red-necked Grebe r r r - ___ Horned Grebe u - u - ___ Eared Grebe* u u - - ___ Western Grebe* c c c - ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c c -
PELICANS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican c c c -
CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ Double-crested Cormorant* c c c -
HERONS Sp S F W ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c - ___ Green Heron* u u u - ___ Little Blue Heron u u u - ___ Cattle Egret r r r - ___ Great Egret* c c c - ___ Snowy Egret* r - r - ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron c c c - ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron r r r - ___ Least Bittern* u u u - ___ American Bittern* u u u -
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan r - r r ___ Canada Goose* c c c c ___ Greater White-Fronted Goose r - r - ___ Snow Goose u r c r ___ Ross Goose r - r - ___ Mallard* c c c r ___ American Black Duck r r r r ___ Gadwall* c c c r ___ Northern Pintail* c u c r ___ Green-winged Teal* c u c r ___ Blue-winged Teal* c c c r ___ American Wigeon* c u c r ___ Northern Shoveler* c c c r ___ Wood Duck* c c c r ___ Redhead* c u c r ___ Ring-necked Duck* c r - r ___ Canvasback* c u c r ___ Greater Scaup - - r - ___ Lesser Scaup c r c r ___ Common Goldeneye c - u u ___ Barrow's Goldeneye r - r r ___ Bufflehead c r u r ___ Ruddy Duck* c c c r ___ Hooded Merganser* c c c r ___ Common Merganser c - u u ___ Red-breasted Merganser r - r -
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture r - r -
HAWKS Sp S F W ___ Northern Goshawk r r r - ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk u r u r ___ Cooper's Hawk r r u r ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c c r ___ Red-shouldered Hawk r r r - ___ Broad-winged Hawk r - u - ___ Swainson's Hawk* u u u - ___ Rough-legged Hawk u - u r ___ Golden Eagle r - r - ___ Bald Eagle u - u - ___ Northern Harrier* c c c r
OSPREY Sp S F W ___ Osprey r r r -
FALCONS Sp S F W ___ Prairie Falcon r - r - ___ Peregrine Falcon r - r - ___ Merlin r - r r ___ American Kestrel* c c c r
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Ring-necked Pheasant* c c c c ___ Gray Partridge* u u u u ___ Wild Turkey r r r r
RAILS Sp S F W ___ King Rail r r r - ___ Virginia Rail* c c c - ___ Sora* c c c - ___ American Coot* c c c -
PLOVERS Sp S F W ___ Semipalmated Plover u - u - ___ Killdeer* c c c - ___ American Golden Plover r - u - ___ Black-bellied Plover u - u -
SANDPIPERS Sp S F W ___ Ruddy Turnstone r - - - ___ American Woodcock* u u u - ___ Common Snipe* c c c - ___ Upland Sandpiper* c u u - ___ Spotted Sandpiper* c c c - ___ Solitary Sandpiper r - r - ___ Willet r - r - ___ Greater Yellowlegs* c u c - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs* c c c - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper u - u - ___ White-rumped Sandpiper u r u - ___ Baird's Sandpiper u r u - ___ Least Sandpiper u u u - ___ Dunlin u r u - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher r r r - ___ Stilt Sandpiper u r u - ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper* c c c - ___ Western Sandpiper r r r - ___ Marbled Godwit* u u u - ___ Hudsonian Godwit r r r - ___ Sanderling r r r -
AVOCETS Sp S F W ___ American Avocet* r r r -
PHALAROPES Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Phalarope c u u -
GULLS AND TERNS Sp S F W ___ Sabine's Gull r - r - ___ Herring Gull u u u r ___ Ring-billed Gull c u c r ___ Franklin's Gull* c c c - ___ Bonaparte's Gull u r u - ___ Forster's Tern* c c u - ___ Common Tern* c c c - ___ Caspian Tern r r r - ___ Black Tern* c c r -
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove* c c c c ___ Mourning Dove* c c c r
CUCKOOS Sp S F W ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo u u u - ___ Black-billed Cuckoo u c c -
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Eastern Screech-Owl* c c c c ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Snowy Owl r - - r ___ Barred Owl u u u u ___ Long-eared Owl - - r - ___ Short-eared Owl u u u u ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl - - r -
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Common Nighthawk* c c c -
SWIFTS Sp S F W ___ Chimney Swift* c u c -
HUMMINGBIRD Sp S F W ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird* u u r -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* c c r r
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Northern Flicker* c c c r ___ Red-headed Woodpecker* u c r - ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker* r r r r ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker* c c u - ___ Hairy Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Downy Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Pileated Woodpecker u u u u
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Eastern Kingbird* c c u - ___ Western Kingbird* u u u - ___ Great Crested Flycatcher u r r - ___ Say's Phoebe r - r - ___ Eastern Phoebe* u r r - ___ Willow Flycatcher u - - - ___ Least Flycatcher c r c - ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee* r r r -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* c u c c
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow* c c c - ___ Bank Swallow* c c c - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* c u c - ___ Barn Swallow* c c c - ___ Cliff Swallow* c c c - ___ Purple Martin* u c r -
JAYS AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Blue Jay* c c c c ___ Black-billed Magpie r - r r ___ American Crow* c c c u
CHICKADEES Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee* c c c c
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ White-breasted Nuthatch* c c c c ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch - - - r
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper u - c u
WRENS Sp S F W ___ House Wren* c c c - ___ Winter Wren r - - r ___ Marsh Wren* u u u - ___ Sedge Wren* c c c -
THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird* c c c - ___ Brown Thrasher* c c c -
THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ American Robin* c c c r ___ Wood Thrush r - r - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u - ___ Swainson's Thrush u - u - ___ Gray-cheecked Thrush r - r - ___ Veery r - r - ___ Eastern Bluebird* u u u -
KINGLETS Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet u - c r ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet c - c -
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing u u u r
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike u - u u ___ Loggerhead Shrike u - - -
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c c
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo u - - - ___ Red-eyed Vireo u c - - ___ Philadelphia Vireo u - - - ___ Warbling Vireo c u u -
WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Black-and-white Warbler c r u - ___ Golden-winged Warbler r - - - ___ Tennessee Warbler u - - - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler u - c - ___ Nashville Warbler c - c - ___ Yellow Warbler* c c c - ___ Magnolia Warbler u - - - ___ Cape May Warbler u - - - ___ Black-throated Green Warbler u - - - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c - ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler r - - - ___ Blackpoll Warbler r - - - ___ Pine Warbler r - - - ___ Palm Warbler r - - - ___ Ovenbird u - - - ___ Northern Waterthrush r - u - ___ Mourning Warbler r - - - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c c c - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat r r r - ___ Wilson's Warbler r - u - ___ Canada Warbler u - u - ___ American Redstart c u - -
WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* c c c c
BLACKBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Bobolink* c u u - ___ Western Meadowlark* c c c r ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* c c c r ___ Red-winged Blackbird* c c c r ___ Orchard Oriole* u r - - ___ Northern Oriole* c u u - ___ Rusty Blackbird c - c r ___ Brewer's Blackbird u - u r ___ Common Grackle* c c c r ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c c r
GROSBEAKS, FINCHES AND SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Northern Cardinal* r r r r ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak* u u r - ___ Indigo Bunting* r u r - ___ Dickcissel* u c u - ___ Evening Grosbeak - - u r ___ Purple Finch r - u u ___ Pine Grosbeak - - - r ___ Hoary Redpoll - - - r ___ Common Redpoll u - r u ___ Pine Siskin r - r r ___ American Goldfinch c c c u ___ Red Crossbill r - r u ___ White-winged Crossbill - - r r ___ Rufous-sided Towhee u r r - ___ Savannah Sparrow* c u u - ___ Grasshopper Sparrow* r r - - ___ Le Conte's Sparrow r - r - ___ Henslow's Sparrow r r r - ___ Vesper Sparrow* c c c - ___ Lark Sparrow r - - - ___ Dark-eyed Junco c - c c ___ American Tree Sparrow c - c c ___ Chipping Sparrow* c - c c ___ Clay-colored Sparrow* c c r - ___ Field Sparrow* c c u - ___ Harris' Sparrow u - c r ___ White-crowned Sparrow u - u - ___ White-throated Sparrow c - c - ___ Fox Sparrow u - u - ___ Lincoln's Sparrow c - c - ___ Swamp Sparrow r - r - ___ Song Sparrow* c c c r ___ Lapland Longspur r - - r ___ Snow Bunting r - u c
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Scarlet Tanager r r r - ___ Summer Tanager r r - -

For additional information contact:

                      Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
                      25 Northwest Second Street
                      Ortonville, MN  56278
                      Phone: (612)839-3700
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  No date.  Birds, mammals, reptiles and 
     amphibians of Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge.  U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  No date.  Birds, mammals, reptiles and 
     amphibians of Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge.  U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie 
     Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govbigstn.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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