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South Dakota Birding"Hotspot"

Pierre Oahe Dam Area

Location#1 -- Below Oahe Dam

The area directly below Oahe Dam is a wonderful location to find true rarities for South Dakota, especially gulls, terns, and waterfowl.  Begin by visiting point 1, the primary outlet below the power plant.  The churning water released at this point not only ensures open water during all times of the year, but also stuns or kills baitfish that may have been sucked into the intake above the dam.  You never know what you may find in this general area, but past rarities found below the dam include Sabine's Gull, Mew Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Glaucous Gull, Jaeger species, Arctic Tern, Harlequin Duck, Scoter species, and Long-tailed Duck.

Another location to check for rarities is Point 2, the stilling basin further to the southwest.   Given the lack of dynamics found at Point 1, I've typically found far fewer birds here.  However, the most gulls I've ever seen in one location was one very early spring at the stilling basin, as the ice just started to break up and release many dead fish for the gulls to feast on.

One more area to check is the large forested expanse in and around point 3.  The habitat here actually varies from swampy wetland areas, to shrubby thickets, to forested areas with very large trees. 

Pierre and Oahe Dam Area - South Dakota Birding Hotspot 


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