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Bird Checklists of the United States

Waubay National Wildlife Refuge

Waubay, South Dakota


Waubay National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 and is administered by the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge is located in the prairie pothole region, the largest duck production area in the continental United States. The Refuge includes 4,650 acres of lakes, marshlands, grasslands, and woodlands which support diverse and abundant wildlife. Both eastern and western bird species of the United States can be found here.

The name "Waubay" is of Sioux Indian origin meaning "a nesting place for birds." Although more than 150 years of white settlement has brought sweeping changes to this area, the Refuge itself retains much of the natural character of the tallgrass prairie region.

Birding on the Refuge is best during the spring (March-April) and fall (October-November) when peak waterfowl numbers occur. Spring and fall migrations of warblers and shorebirds occur in May and September. The most sought after species on the Refuge is the red-necked grebe. Waubay is one of the southern-most locations where this species is known to nest. Also of interest are the eastern bluebirds which nest in the wood boxes set out for them.

This bird list contains 244 species which have been recorded by Refuge personnel and visiting bird watchers since the Refuge was established. Another 12 species of accidental or extirpated occurrence are included at the end of the list.


Those species marked with an "*" nest on the Refuge.
The season of occurrence and relative abundance of each species are defined by the following:

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

a - abundant: common species, very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times during a season
r - rare: seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon o r o -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c a - ___ Horned Grebe* c o u - ___ Red-necked Grebe* c c c - ___ Eared Grebe* c u u - ___ Western 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 r
HERONS, BITTERNS, AND IBIS Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* c c c - ___ Least Bittern* - o o - ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c - ___ Great Egret u u u - ___ Snowy Egret u o u - ___ Little Blue Heron r - - - ___ Cattle Egret o o o - ___ Green Heron o o o - ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* c c c - ___ White-faced Ibis o o o -
SWANS, GEESE, AND DUCKS Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan (Whistling Swan) o - c - ___ Greater White-fronted Goose o - o - ___ Snow Goose o r c - ___ Canada Goose* c c c o ___ Wood Duck* c c c - ___ Green-winged Teal* c o c - ___ American Black Duck* o o o - ___ Mallard* a a a o ___ Northern Pintail* c c c r ___ Blue-winged Teal* a a a - ___ Cinnamon Teal r r - - ___ Northern Shoveler* c c c - ___ Gadwall* a a a - ___ American Wigeon* c u c - ___ Canvasback* c u c - ___ Redhead* c c c - ___ Ring-necked Duck* u o u - ___ Lesser Scaup* a u a - ___ Oldsquaw r - r - ___ White-winged Scoter r r r - ___ Common Goldeneye* c r c - ___ Bufflehead c r c - ___ Hooded Merganser o r o - ___ Common Merganser c r c - ___ Red-breasted Merganser u - r - ___ Ruddy Duck* c c c -
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture r r r -
HAWKS AND FALCONS Sp S F W ___ Osprey o r o - ___ Bald Eagle o o o r ___ Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk)* c c c o ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk* o r o r ___ Cooper's Hawk* u u u - ___ Northern Goshawk o - o - ___ Broad-winged Hawk o o o - ___ Swainson's Hawk* u u u - ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c c - ___ Ferruginous Hawk r - r - ___ Rough-legged Hawk o - o o ___ Golden Eagle o - o - ___ American Kestrel* c c c r ___ Merlin o o - - ___ Peregrine Falcon o o - - ___ Prairie Falcon r r - -
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Gray Partridge* u u u u ___ Ring-necked Pheasant* c c c c ___ Sharp-tailed Grouse* r r r r
RAILS AND COOTS Sp S F W ___ Virginia Rail* u u u - ___ Sora* c c c - ___ American Coot* a a a -
CRANES Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane o - o -
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover u - u - ___ American Golden Plover (Lesser Gol-Pl.) u - u - ___ Semipalmated Plover c - c - ___ Piping Plover* o o o - ___ Killdeer* c c c - ___ American Avocet u u u - ___ Greater Yellowlegs c u c - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs c u c - ___ Solitary Sandpiper o o o - ___ Willet* c o c - ___ Spotted Sandpiper* u u u - ___ Upland Sandpiper* c c c - ___ Long-billed Curlew r - - - ___ Hudsonian Godwit o o o - ___ Marbled Godwit* c c u - ___ Ruddy Turnstone u o u - ___ Sanderling o o o - ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper a u a - ___ Least Sandpiper c u c - ___ White-rumped Sandpiper c u c - ___ Baird's Sandpiper u u u - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper c u c - ___ Dunlin u - u - ___ Stilt Sandpiper o o o - ___ Buff-breasted Sandpiper r - r - ___ Short-billed Dowitcher o o o - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher o o o - ___ Common Snipe u u c - ___ American Woodcock* c u u - ___ Wilson's Phalarope* c u c - ___ Red-necked Phalarope c u c -
GULLS AND TERNS Sp S F W ___ Franklin's Gull* c c a - ___ Bonaparte's Gull o - - - ___ Ring-billed Gull c c c - ___ California Gull u u u - ___ Herring Gull u - u - ___ Common Tern* c c c - ___ Forster's Tern* c c c - ___ Black Tern* c c c -
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Mourning Dove* c c c -
CUCKOOS Sp S F W ___ Black-billed Cuckoo c c c - ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo r r r -
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Eastern Screech-Owl* u u u u ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Snowy Owl - - o o ___ Burrowing Owl* r r r - ___ Long-eared Owl* r r r 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 o o - -
HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird* o o o -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher u u c -
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Red-headed Woodpecker* o o o - ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker - - r r ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker o o o - ___ Downy Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Hairy Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Northern Flicker (Common Flicker)* c c c r
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher r r r - ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee c c c - ___ Yellow-bellied Flycatcher r r r - ___ Willow Flycatcher* c c c - ___ Least Flycatcher c u c - ___ Eastern Phoebe* c c c - ___ Great Crested Flycatcher* u u u - ___ Western Kingbird* c c c - ___ Eastern Kingbird* c c c -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* a c a o
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Purple Martin* c c c - ___ Tree Swallow* a a a - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow r r r - ___ Bank Swallow* u u u - ___ Cliff Swallow* u u u - ___ Barn Swallow* c c a -
JAYS AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Blue Jay* c c c o ___ Black-billed Magpie r - r r ___ American Crow* c u c o
CHICKADEES Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee* c c c c
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch o - u o ___ White-breasted Nuthatch* c c c c
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper o - o o
WRENS Sp S F W ___ House Wren* c c c - ___ Sedge Wren* u u u - ___ Marsh Wren* c c c -
KINGLETS AND THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet u - u o ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet u - u - ___ Eastern Bluebird* c c c - ___ Veery r - - - ___ Gray-cheeked Thrush u - o - ___ Swainson's Thrush u - u - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u - ___ American Robin* a c a -
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird* c c c - ___ Northern Mockingbird r r - - ___ Brown Thrasher* c c c r
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit (Water Pipit) o - o -
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Bohemian Waxwing o - o o ___ Cedar Waxwing* u u u o
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike - - o o ___ Loggerhead Shrike* u u u -
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c o
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Yellow-throated Vireo - o - - ___ Warbling Vireo u u u - ___ Philadelphia Vireo r - - - ___ Red-eyed Vireo u u u -
WOOD WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Tennessee Warbler c - c - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler c - c - ___ Nashville Warbler r - - - ___ Northern Parula r - r - ___ Yellow Warbler* c c c - ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler o - o - ___ Magnolia Warbler o - o - ___ Cape May Warbler r - r - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c - ___ Blackburnian Warbler r - r - ___ Palm Warbler o - o - ___ Bay-breasted Warbler r - - - ___ Blackpoll Warbler c - c - ___ Black-and-white Warbler c - c - ___ American Redstart c o c - ___ Ovenbird c - c - ___ Northern Waterthrush u - u - ___ Mourning Warbler o - o - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c c c - ___ Wilson's Warbler o - o - ___ Canada Warbler r r r - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat o o - -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Scarlet Tanager o r - -
GROSBEAKS AND SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak c c c - ___ Lazuli Bunting r r r - ___ Indigo Bunting o o - - ___ Dickcissel u u u - ___ Rufous-sided Towhee o r r - ___ American Tree Sparrow c - c o ___ Chipping Sparrow* u u u - ___ Clay-colored Sparrow* c c c - ___ Field Sparrow r r - - ___ Vesper Sparrow* c c c - ___ Lark Sparrow* r r r - ___ Lark Bunting* r r r - ___ Savannah Sparrow* u u u - ___ Grasshopper Sparrow* u u u - ___ Le Conte's Sparrow - r - - ___ Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow* r r r - ___ Fox Sparrow o - o - ___ Song Sparrow* c c c - ___ Lincoln's Sparrow u - u - ___ Swamp Sparrow o - o - ___ White-throated Sparrow c - c r ___ White-crowned Sparrow u - u r ___ Harris' Sparrow c - c r ___ Dark-eyed Junco c - c o ___ Lapland Longspur u - u u ___ Chestnut-collared Longspur u o u - ___ Snow Bunting o - o o
BLACKBIRDS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Bobolink* c c c - ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a c a r ___ Western Meadowlark* c c c r ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* c c c - ___ Rusty Blackbird u - u o ___ Brewer's Blackbird* o o o - ___ Common Grackle* a c a o ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c c - ___ Orchard Oriole* u c c - ___ Northern Oriole* c c c -
FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Pine Grosbeak - - o o ___ Purple Finch - - o o ___ Red Crossbill - - - r ___ White-winged Crossbill - - r r ___ Common Redpoll o - o o ___ Hoary Redpoll - - r r ___ Pine Siskin o - o o ___ American Goldfinch* c c c o ___ Evening Grosbeak o - o o
WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* c c c c

Accidental or Extirpated Species:

Greater Scaup                           Greater Prairie-Chicken
Northern Bobwhite                       Common Moorhen
Black-necked Stilt                      Passenger Pigeon (extinct)
Barred Owl                              Western Bluebird
Varied Thrush                           Summer Tanager
Northern Cardinal                       Green-tailed Towhee

For additional information contact:
                 Refuge Manager
                 Waubay National Wildlife Refuge
                 44401 134 A Street
                 Waubay, South Dakota 57273
                 Telephone: 605/947-4521

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1988.  Birds of Waubay.  U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1988.  Birds of Waubay.  U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie 
     Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govwaubay.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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