SD: Ft. Randall Birding Festival Comes to Southeast South Dakota

Mark your calendars for May 20, 21, 22, when the Fort Randall
Birding Festival will be held in the Wagner, Lake Andes and
Pickstown area of South Dakota.

The unique weekend event has something for everyone interested
in birds that are found in the area or are passing through the
great lakes region of South Dakota.

The area boasts at least 322 species of birds, of which 164 are
breeding species. Experts say there will also be many migratory
birds in the region.

Two National Wildlife Refuges and a South Dakota Wildlife
Production Area will be featured, with birding field trips to all
three. The area is unique because those excellent birding areas are
in close proximity. The Lake Andes Refuge borders Lake Andes – a
4,616-acre lake north of the Missouri River – and is only 10 miles
from the Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge, which is located
on the Missouri River. Red Lake is a short jaunt (six miles) south
of the Lake Andes Refuge.

Birding is defined as the act of observing or identifying wild
birds in their natural environment. It’s an activity the whole
family can enjoy.

In addition to birding field trips, another option is a tour of
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers welcome center and dam at

The festival starts Friday, May 20, at 7 p.m. CDT (6 p.m.
registration) at the Wagner National Guard Armory with an overview
of the weekend events. That will be followed by a talk on birds and
birding in the Lake Andes/Fort Randall area by David Swanson, a
member of the Biology Department at the University of South Dakota.
The evening will be capped off with a program on live raptors,
presented by personnel from the Black Hills Raptor Center.
Ambassadors from four species of raptors will be featured.

Saturday morning birders will meet at the Lake Andes National
Wildlife Refuge for a guided field trip led by David Swanson. In
the afternoon, Ricky Olson, one of South Dakota’s top birders, will
lead a gull and tern identification field trip and talk. The Red
Lake Wildlife Production Area and Ft Randall Dam will be visited.
Saturday evening will feature a presentation and talk about
bluebirds by David Jeffcoat, the South Dakota coordinator of
Bluebirds Across Nebraska and South Dakota. A whippoorwill walk
will also take place for night owls, starting from the city park in

Sunday morning will feature a field trip at the Karl Mundt National
Wildlife Refuge, guided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
personnel. Bald eagle viewing and nesting will be featured until
the noon conclusion of the Fort Randall Birding Festival

Pre-registration for the festival by May 16 will help with
logistics, save money and is highly recommended. You may download
the pre-registration form at and send it to
the Wagner Chamber of Commerce. Or you can request a registration
form by calling the Wagner Chamber of Commerce at 605-384-3741.

Sponsors for the weekend events include: The Wagner Chamber of
Commerce; the City of Wagner; City of Lake Andes; Town of
Pickstown; Randall RC&D; Sioux Falls Bird Club; South Dakota
Ornithologists Union; Bluebirds Across Nebraska & South Dakota;
Fort Randall Casino; USDA-NRCS; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service; Great Lakes of South Dakota Tourism;
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department; and Southeast South
Dakota Tourism.

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