How Climate Change Will Affect South Dakota's Birds

Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo: Tracy Brunner/Audubon Photography Awards

Vulnerable Birds in South Dakota

Highly and moderately vulnerable birds may lose more than half of their current range—the geographic area where they live—as they are forced to search for suitable habitat and climate conditions elsewhere.

South Dakota

Flyway Central Flyway
State Brief Download [PDF]

Below, find out which of the birds that nest or spend the winter in your area are most vulnerable across their entire range. Some birds may lose range outside of your state, making the protection of their current habitat in your area even more important.

Search Another Location


How will the Sharp-tailed Grouse's range be affected in South Dakota?

Rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns affect birds' ability to find food and reproduce, which over time impacts local populations, and ultimately continent-wide populations, too. Some species may even go extinct in your state if they cannot find the conditions they need to survive and raise their young.

Select a warming scenario to see how this species’ range will change under increased global temperatures.

Reducing warming makes many types of birds found in South Dakota less vulnerable.

In order to hold warming steady, we must act now to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We must reduce our carbon emissions and also absorb what is produced through natural solutions like reforestation or with technology that removes carbon from the air.

Click the three different warming scenarios to explore how increased warming puts more species in South Dakota at risk.

South Dakota's Birds and Habitats

South Dakota’s Black Hills support nesting birds like Ruffed Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Western Tanager. The Missouri Couteau produces staggering amounts of ducks, geese, and shorebirds in this high-density nesting area, while the grasslands of western South Dakota provide nesting habitat for prairie species like the Sharp-tailed Grouse and Bobolink. In the Badlands, Western Meadowlarks sing on mixed-grass prairie and Ovenbirds live in forests.

Audubon Dakota’s Working Lands program has helped maintain more than 170,000 acres of grasslands in the northern Great Plains.

Climate Policy in South Dakota

Electricity Generation Breakdown
27.1% Wind
48.1% Hydro
6% Natural Gas
18.9% Coal
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
Renewable Portfolio Standard
BY 2015
Climate Alliance?
Member of US
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

(Data: U.S. EIA)

Though South Dakota has the 14th-greatest solar potential of U.S. states, it is ranked 50th in installed capacity. In 2019, Governor Kristi Noem signed legislation to streamline wind and solar on state-owned lands.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in South Dakota

South Dakota has warmed between 1 and 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Greater precipitation and heavier storms threaten South Dakota’s significant corn and agricultural production. In the coming decades, South Dakota will likely experience more extreme heats days and more intense droughts.

The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk harm people, too. Hover over or tap an area on the map to see specific threats that will affect that area as warming increases.

Birds tell us: It’s time to act. See how you can help improve the chances for three-quarters of species at risk.