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North Dakota Outdoors Television - Songbirds


When you think of migratory birds, perhaps you think of ... Snow Geese, or ducks. Or maybe, Canada Geese, making their great, sweeping journeys across the sky ...

But there are many, much smaller birds that journey south, each fall, and return each spring to the Northern Plains. They travel as far, or farther, as their larger brethren ...

Goldfinches come all the way back from Louisiana.

Cape May Warblers arrive from the West Indies.

Northern Orioles make it back from Columbia.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks travel up from Mexico.

And Bobolinks return all the way from Brazil. A journey of 5000 miles.

They're all songbirds -- singers whose quick calls trip up and down the scales, giving life to the dusky evening. They're smaller than your hand -- an ounce or two at most. Yet they fight their way across half a continent -- to return home. Think of how much harder a songbird has to work, than a giant Canada -- a mallard. Yet they make it, each year. Think of the instinct, the will, that drives them.

Many of these sojourners come to rest at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, north of Jamestown. Manager Mark Vaniman has a special attachment to these bright vivid creatures ...

(Mark) "I enjoy them all. It's a challenge to identify them and learn about the birds as they come through.'

The Refuge holds much more that songbirds -- as if that weren't enough. White Pelicans, Western Grebes, Bald Eagles ...

(Mark) "There are over 215 kinds of birds that use the refuge and over 100 that nest here."

The richness of this spot can hardly be overstated. And that's what the refuge system is for: to conserve a treasure.

(Mark) "If wildlife can't survive on this planet, how can we?"

In the truest sense of the word, this spot is a home. Home to some of the brightest, bravest travelers you'll even encounter.

This is Lex Hames, for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department -- caught up in a song.

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Last modified Mar. 16, 1996