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Bird Checklists of the United States

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

small state map showing location

Office in Missouri Valley, Iowa


Established in 1959, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge provides feeding and resting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. DeSoto's 7823 acres include a stretch of the Missouri River, DeSoto Lake, small ponds and cattail marshes as well as cultivated fields, grasslands, multiflora rose hedges and mature woodlands. At the heart of the refuge is a 750-acre oxbow lake formed when the Missouri river was channelized. The refuge is situated in the fertile Missouri River Valley containing land in the states of Iowa and Nebraska.

The fall and spring migratory periods provide the most exciting opportunities to observe bird life on the refuge. Concentrations of snow geese and other migratory waterfowl reach peak numbers in mid-November and again in late March. In the fall and winter the endangered bald eagle is a common sight at DeSoto. During the spring and summer warblers and a host of small nesting birds can be found on the refuge.


This bird list contains 240 species which have been recorded on the refuge. Another eleven birds, listed under Accidentals, have been reported but are considered outside normal ranges.

Sp - March - May
S - June - August
F - September - November
W - December - February

a - abundant: common species that is very numerous
c - common: usually found in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years
r - rare: seen less often every 5 years
* - species known to breed on DeSoto NWR
# - Endangered


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

ACCIDENTAL BIRDS: Species recorded on refuge only once or twice and considered outside normal range.

White-faced Ibis                        Common Ground-Dove
Bean Goose                              Northern Saw-whet Owl
Brant                                   Black-billed Magpie
Oldsquaw                                Summer Tanager
King Rail                               Black-headed Grosbeak
Common Moorhen

Birdwatching is encouraged. Please check at the DeSoto Visitor Center for information on recent sightings. PLEASE OBEY POSTED SIGNS. For further information contact:
                 Refuge Manager
                 DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge
                 Route 1, Box 114
                 Missouri Valley, Iowa 51555
                 Telephone: 712/642-4121

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1985.  Birds of DeSoto National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1985.  Birds of DeSoto National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, 
     ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govdesoto.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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