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Songbirds of North Dakota

Chris Grondahl and Scott Gomes

JPG -- Picture of Cedar Waxwings

State Game and Fish Department
100 North Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, North Dakota 58501-5095

Songbird is a term often used to describe bird species belonging to the order Passeriformes. The passerines or "perching" birds make up the largest order of birds in the world and include 28 families in North America ranging in size from the 4-5 inch long warblers to the raven measuring over two feet long. Passerines are often noted for their singing capability and therefore have been commonly referred to as songbirds. They also have in common a perching foot with three toes directed forward and one backward enabling them to easily grip branches, twigs, reeds, and grass.

The songbirds pictured in the following pages are representatives of 15 families of passerines which nest in North Dakota. Some families described contain members which can be found in North Dakota, but are not pictured.

Identifying songbirds in the field is both educational and rewarding. Most species exhibit field marks that you must look for to distinguish them from other birds, such as a characteristic feather pattern, bill shape, and overall size. It can also be important to recognize a bird's song, behavior, preferred habitats, and range. The descriptions found within the following pages will help you identify many of the common songbirds found in North Dakota.

To further enhance your success, it is recommended you invest in a good pair of binoculars for closer viewing and a field guide. The inexpensive field guide will provide you with more specific range maps and illustrations of male, female, and juvenile birds of all species.

Note: Songbirds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is illegal to harm or posses any of these birds. Please contact the Game and Fish Department if you have any questions about these species.

This resource is based on the following source:

Grondahl, Chris and Scott Gomes.  No Date.  Songbirds of North Dakota.  North
     Dakota Game and Fish Department, Bismarck, ND.  11pp.
This resource should be cited as:
Grondahl, Chris and Scott Gomes.  No Date.  Songbirds of North Dakota.  North 
     Dakota Game and Fish Department, Bismarck, ND.  Jamestown, ND: Northern 
     Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 16JUL97).


Tyrant Flycatchers -- Family Tyrannidae

Eastern Kingbird
Western Kingbird

Swallows -- Family Hirundinidae

Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Purple Martin

Larks -- Family Alaudidae

Horned Larks

Chickadees -- Family Paridae

Black-Capped Chickadee

Nuthatches -- Family Sittidae

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Wrens -- Family Troglodytidae

House Wren

Thrushes -- Family Muscicapidae

American Robin
Eastern Bluebird

Shrikes -- Family Laniidae

Loggerhead Shrike

Mimic Thrushes -- Family Mimidae

Brown Thrasher

Waxwings -- Family Bombycillidae

Cedar Waxwing

Jays, Crows and Magpies -- Family Corvidae

Blue Jay

Vireos -- Family Vireonidae

Warbling Vireo

Finches -- Family Fringillidae

American Goldfinch

Warblers, Sparrows and Grosbeaks -- Family Emberizidae

Yellow Warbler
Black-Headed Grosbeak
Chipping Sparrow

Meadowlarks, Orioles and Blackbirds -- Family Icteridae

Western Meadowlark
Northern Oriole
Common Grackle
Red-Winged Blackbird

Downloading Instructions -- Instructions on downloading and extracting files from this site.
(Download) (603K) -- Songbirds of North Dakota
Installation: Extract all files and open songbird.htm in a web browser.

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