The United States Fish & Wildlife Service does periodic surveys of wildlife-associated recreation,

Visit this link to see the 2022 survey & learn how popular & economically significant wildlife watching is.

 The Survey estimates participation and expenditures of persons 16 years and older in a single year derived from data collected in the detailed phase of the 2022 Survey.

See a chart at page 3, 

 Total wildlife watcher participants were estimated at 148.3 million participants – with around the home watchers at 146.5 million, away from home watchers at 73.3 million and total expenditures by watchers at $250.2 billion. This compares to hunting/fishing for 39.9 million anglers and 14.4 million hunters and $144.6 billion in total expenditure by hunters/anglers.  This shows wildlife watchers being about ten times the number of hunters.

Bird Watchers

At page 30 Bird watchers are estimated to be 96.3 million.

Here is a quote on bird watchers: 

Wild Bird Observers 

Of all of the wildlife in the United States, birds were the greatest focus of wildlife watchers interviewed in 2022. Approximately 96.3 million people observed birds around the home and on trips in 2022. A large majority, 95 percent (91.1 million), observed wild birds around the home, while 44 percent, 42.6 million, took trips away from home to observe wild birds. Participants averaged 78 days of birding in 2022, with 67 days for around-the-home birders. Away-from-home birders averaged 34 days.”  


NationalAudubon Society on South Dakota Birding

Bird Flu Information. Click here. 

Migratory Bird Day, spring time day is May 11th 2024,
This year there will be a day celebrated also in October  (10/12/24)  for the fall migration.



See also SD National Audubon’s Maps of Important Bird Areas,*1gmdjwr*_ga*NTQ4MTE2OTIuMTY5MjU0OTc1NQ..*_ga_X2XNL2MWTT*MTcwOTY5MjY3My4yMi4xLjE3MDk2OTI3MDYuMjcuMC4w#/nas-hub-site


See also SD Game, Fish and Parks (GFP)  Hunter Atlas, to learn where public land is for the whole state. Here is a link, but you can pick up hard copies at SDGFP offices

By county view of Hunter Atlas, to learn where public land is for a county


Birding information by SD Game, Fish and Parks

SD Birding trails (SD GFP):

Black Hills/Badlands Birding Trails

Birders Guide to Mickelson Trail


SD OU birding hotspots by Ornithological Society:


Why do you care? Lots of public land in SD…find out where you can wander without worry about trespass.
Save money buying maps from each federal agency’s office as you go through town.
GFP revises a map each year of land ownership in SD – State of SD creates the Hunter Atlas and hands out free versions at SDGFP offices, but you can get various versions on-line, all three versions are listed below.


South Dakota Birding Check list: (over 430 birds and there may be other checklists)


Check Lists

Badlands has 238 birds (I counted by hand so # might be off):

Black Hills National Forest bird list (did not count)

La creek NWR list has 281 birds

Waubay NWR Complex Birdlist-b.pdf

Lake Andes NWR

Avi Base list for SD


SD Breeding bird Atlas

The second South Dakota Breeding Bird Atlas revision, started in 2008 and was completed in 2012, was a statewide survey to determine the current distribution and status of every bird species breeding in the state of South Dakota. These results were compared to bird distributions during the first SDBBA (1988-1992) to see what changes have occurred. The atlas was conducted by volunteers . It  was a great opportunity  for birders to contribute to the knowledge of South Dakota birds while having fun and

learning about our local birds and their habitats.  Info is also posted SD Game, Fish and Parks (a state agency) web site.

For more information and to download  the Atlas or order a hard-copy go to:


Nebraska Crane Season Program

Annual Events in and near Kearney Nebraska


PHAS List Serve

Prairie Hills Audubon Society has a list serve for members and friends to discuss birds, issues associated with birds and birding field trips.

All field trips are announced on this list serve. To subscribe contact Nancy or Jedediah,, 605-787-6466, and jedediah (207) 310-4665‬,

Here is the address:,

Please watch our events page or Facebook for field trip announcements

There are also two other list serves in SD on birding : sd-birds and NHBC list serves at IO groups. Gene Hess is in charge of admittance to these…  Gene Hess <>



Northern Hills Bird Club –

Brookings Area Birders –

South Dakota Ornithologist’s Union

Black Hills Raptor Center

Sioux Fall Bird Club

Audubon Great Plains

Audubon Rockies

American Bird Consevancy

Bird Conservancy fo the Rockies


Migratory Bird Day, spring time day is May 11th 2024,
This year there will be a day celebrated also in October  (10/12/24)  for the fall migration.



La Creek National Wildlife Refuge sharp tailed grouse lek viewing blind is up and ready for people to use. 

There are two lek viewing options: one with viewing blind and one without. The one without the lek blind is called the Sandhills blind; it requires you to bring your own lek blind. 

  • The one with a physical blind is called the  Snakepatch blind; it  has a wooden blind with chairs and a mowed grass pathway to the location. 


Please call 308-760-6268 or 605-891-1071 or email to reserve a morning in the Snakepatch Blind. 

It is highly recommended that first you visit in the daylight and visit the headquarters for directions and a map, 

prior to a morning viewing at the lek. 

See the Lacreek NWR website for more details.

La Creek also has Facebook for the Refuge. Please feel free to share it with anyone interested.




Three of the five North American species of grassland grouse live in SD and the grouse gather in groups during the early spring breeding season to dance on leks—open areas of ground where males display for females. Greater sage grouse, sharp tailed grouse & greater prairie chicken live in SD.   Some public and private lands offer access to viewing during the height of grouse lekking activity. La Creek NWR offers a blind for viewing sharp tailed grouse (scroll down for info. on La Creek viewing)


Any trip to a lek starts with doing your homework: Two of SD’s  grassland grouse are listed as “Near Threatened”  by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUNC) so it’s critical for birders to plan carefully and follow all guidelines for minimizing disturbance at leks. 

Here is the link to the IUNC Red List web page:

Greater sage grouse  – Red List web page:

Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus has most recently been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2016. Centrocercus urophasianus is listed as Near Threatened under criteria A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd.

Greater prairie chicken – Red List web page:

Greater Prairie-chicken Tympanuchus cupido has most recently been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2020. Tympanuchus cupido is listed as Near Threatened under criteria A3bcde.

Sharp Tailed Grouse – Red List web page:

Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus has most recently been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2020. Tympanuchus phasianellus is listed as Least Concern.


SD Game,Fish and Parks (GFP) Action Plans for Prairie grouse & greater sage grouse (these have maps)


BIRDING TOURS IN NEBRASKA PANHANDLE  (we don’t know if they will offer again in 2024)
Join Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (BCR) to get to know the winged wonders that share our home. BCR explores a different areas of the Panhandle from April 2023 to November 2023, covering many habitats with a chance to discover new birds each time. This program was intended for anyone interested in birding; from beginners to experts.  Binoculars and field guides were  available to borrow. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to be outside for two hours.  (We don’t know if they will offer this program again in 2024 – we have sent off an e-mail to ask them.) 
All are welcome. BCR’s community of practice is to be an organization that empowers people of all backgrounds, beliefs, colors and creeds to join in, benefit from and contribute to our mission. They strive for inclusivity of all persons regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other status.