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Searching for State Bird at Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l. Park

Visitors to Theodore Roosevelt National Park are expected to spot the western meadowlark this weekend during the park's 61st Annual Spring Birdwalk. Credit: Kevin Cole/Flickr.
Visitors to Theodore Roosevelt National Park are expected to spot the western meadowlark this weekend during the park's 61st Annual Spring Birdwalk. Credit: Kevin Cole/Flickr.
June 4, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – The western meadowlark is not as common a sight as it once was in North Dakota, but some visitors to Theodore Roosevelt National Park will likely get a glimpse of the state bird this weekend.

Eileen Andes, the park’s chief of interpretation and public affairs, says this Sunday is the park’s 61st Annual Spring Birdwalk, and bird watchers expect to document around 50 different species in all.

"One that we always like to see is the western meadowlark,” she says. “And they have a beautiful song, and especially at that time of the year, birds are very vocal with nesting, mating, things like that."

The western meadowlark has been in decline for decades due to the loss of grasslands and the use of certain pesticides, and the bird is listed this year as one of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's species of conservation priority.

Andes says those on the bird walk are also expected to see a number of other songbirds, such as chickadees and grosbeaks, along with a variety of hawks and eagles.

She notes that bird watching was a favorite pastime of the park's namesake.

"Theodore Roosevelt became a noted ornithologist by the time he was about 19 or 20 years old,” Andes relates. “Of course, back in those days, the way that people studied birds (is) they would look for birds, shoot them and stuff them. Now, of course, we prefer to see them alive and in the wild and in their habitat."

The Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association, the park's nonprofit partner, is the sponsor of Sunday's bird walk.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND