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South Dakota Birding"Hotspot"

Presho Area

Area #2 - The magical section!

This is an aerial photo primarily showing one section (a one mile by one mile section of land) southwest of Presho South Dakota.  Are you not impressed?  Doesn't look like much?  Don't let the rather ordinary aerial photo fool you!  This one square mile section of land is THE best location in the entire state when birding for raptors.  I swear there's like some kind of "bird black hole" that sucks in raptors and keeps them in this spot in winter.  That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!! 

We're talking winter raptor viewing (although it's also decent in the summer).  This entire section of land seems to be primarily devoted to supporting the local Ring-necked Pheasant and Sharp-tailed Grouse populations.  The small strips of land are all planted in sorghum, corn, or cover for pheasants and grouse,.  During the late fall, as you bird, you may run into the occasional hunter.  However, the huge numbers of game birds here (i've literally seen hundreds milling about one field at one time) attract what seems to be equally huge numbers of raptors in the winter.  The whole area is great for winter raptors, but on this one square mile section of land, I've seen pretty much every raptor you'd ever expect to find in South Dakota in winter.

Simply drive around the roads that border the section, along with some of the surrounding roads.  In winter, I can pretty much guarantee you'll see great numbers, and variety, of raptors.  Rough-legged Hawks are the most common species.  There are Northern Harriers that are always here in winter (getting towards the north edge of their winter range). You will always (yes, I said ALWAYS!) see one of the eagle species, and usually you'll see both Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles Ferruginous Hawks are pretty common here, as are Red-tailed Hawks.  For some reason, 244th street on the north side of this section is THE place where I've seen the most Merlins in South Dakota.  I've got terrific photos of a Gyrfalcon here, have often seen Short-eared Owls, and you may also run across a Prairie Falcon, Snowy Owl, or Great Horned Owl (they like the abandoned farmstead here). 

The photos below the aerial photo show both what attracts raptors to the area, and one of the raptors itself.

Presho Area - Aerial Photo of birding hotspot

Ring-necked Pheasant - "No Hunting"

This photo of a Ring-necked Pheasant was taken at the abandoned farmstead on the "magical section".

Gyrfalcon - Falco rusticolus

A juvenile Gyrfalcon spreading its wings near the "magical section"

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Please mail any comments/suggestions/additional links for this page to: Terry L. Sohl