Lacreek NWR - Bennett County

Lacreek NWR is a unique area featuring native sandhills, marshes, meadows, open water, and prairie upland habitats and is home to an equally diverse set of bird species. The best areas to bird at Lacreek are along the dike roads that circle each of the 11 water management pools found on the refuge. In the wild plum and chokecherry thickets, one should have no trouble finding Willow Flycatchers, Brown Thrashers, Bell's Vireos, Yellow Warblers, and Common Yellowthroats. Marsh Wrens are abundant in the horsetails and cattails along pool and canal edges. Black-crowned Night-Herons and American Bitterns are possible in some of the thicker marsh vegetation. Black and Forster's Terns are commonly seen flying over the canals, although you should check carefully as Common Terns have occasionally been sighted as well. If you take the self-guided auto tour around pool 8, check the overspill on the northwest side for Cliff and Bank Swallows. Several species of shorebird including Killdeer, American Avocets, Willets, Upland Sandpipers, Common Snipe, and Wilson's Phalarope breed on the refuge. However, water levels are managed more carefully during spring and fall to provide more open sand and mud flats, and during migration any number of other shorebird species may be possible.

Perhaps the biggest attraction at Lacreek is the waterfowl. The refuge is home to a population of Trumpeter Swans that were first introduced to the refuge in the 1960's. The swans are most commonly seen in pools number 8 and 4, located on the southern end of the refuge. Canada Geese are numerous, as are Blue- and Green-winged Teal, Mallards, and Northern Pintails. As an added attraction, pool 9 on the northern end of the refuge features two islands that are home to hundreds of pelicans and cormorants.

One worthwhile stop you may also want to make on your drive through the refuge is at the prairie dog town located just west of pool 9 and the pelican islands. Check the fence posts and dirt mounds for the Burrowing Owls that reside here. This stretch of road is also a good area to watch for Lark Buntings and Bobolinks. Contributed by Johnida Martin

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