Great Kiskadee Range Map
Great Kiskadee Range Map. Source:

In early Decmeber, I found out that a bird normally found in South and Central America has been hanging out in South Dakota for a few weeks. Although a fairly common bird in its range, it rarely makes it farther north than the southern tip of Texas. In fact, this was thefirst ever reported sighting of a Great Kiskadee near Volga,  South Dakota. After discussing it over with my 37 week pregnant wife, we decided it was worth the 6 hour drive (one-way). So on the next Saturday, we put the car seat received on Friday and our bag that is prepped for the hospital run in the car and headed out.

We actually saw quite a variety of birds (total of 29 species) on the trip without even getting out of the car on the way there (full trip list below). When we pulled up to he area it had been seen in, we came across one other car of birders also looking for the bird. They had just arrived as well but had not seen it yet.

After driving up and down the road a few times, I saw one of the home owners in his driveway so I pulled in to talk to him. I had been told that both of the land owners who’s feeders it was hanging around were more than happy to have people in their yards to see the bird. They had been out of town for the last 8 days and had not seen the bird yet.

After exchanging phone numbers, one of the other birders, Katie and I walked around the property searching for the Kiskadee. After 30 mins or so, I received a phone call from the other guy saying the bird was in a tree at the other person’s property. I went to grab my camera and head over, when I received another call saying it flew away. Dang. Katie and I spent the of the evening until dark searching for the bird with no luck. We had previously decided to stay the night in Brookings, South Dakota since Katie was in no condition for a 12+ hour car ride at 37 weeks. As it got dark, we decided to just come back in the morning when it should be more active.

The next morning we got up early and drove over to the location. We stopped at the first house from the day before and no one was home. We searched around for a little bit before heading over to the second house. We were not in the driveway a few minutes when he flew in. Suddenly the trip was worth it. We were able to watch him for quite a while. He did a bunch of calls when he first flew in but seemed to settle down after a little bit.

After 20 minutes and enough pictures in some of the worst lighting, we decided to head home. Overall it was a good trip. Click on the photos for full screen. Press ‘esc’ to escape full screen mode.



Trip List (new life lister in bold):
Ring-necked Pheasant
Horned Lark
Rock Pigeon
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Great Horned Owl
Golden Eagle
Black-billed Magpie
Northern Harrier
Swainson’s Hawk
Wild Turkey
Red-tailed Hawk
Gull spp.
Northern Goshawk
Eurasian Collard Dove
Blue Jay
Rough-legged Hawk
European Starling
American Crow
Dark-eyed Junco
House Sparrow
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Goldfinch
Black-capped Chickadee
Downey Woodpecker
Great Kiskadee
Cedar Waxwing
American Robin
American Tree Sparrow
Bald Eagle

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