|Yes, it actually looks like this. Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt NP.|
The only truly protected areas of the badlands of any considerable size are the two units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The South Unit is right off of I-94 with the town of Medora serving as gateway. The North Unit is a bit more remote, but no less scenic. The park has plenty of rocky scrubland, grassland, and riparian habitat with the Little Missouri River winding its way through the wilderness. Spotted Towhees provide the background soundtrack for the park while Lark Sparrows are the real "trashbird." When something as cool as a Lark Sparrow is your trashbird, you know you're in a good spot!
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus. They are EVERYWHERE in Teddy Roosevelt.
|Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) in the North Unit.|
|This is him glaring at me after he gave me some room. I deeply appreciate his decision to not punish my stupidity.|
There are several active Prairie Dog towns in the park, providing endless entertainment. If you're watching a town and suddenly every single Prairie Dog gives an alarm cry and disappears into the ground...look up. There's likely a Golden Eagle about to swoop over your head.
|Pretty cute for not being a bird.|
|Sarah scoping the bluffs above the Cottonwood Campground for eagles. Golden Eagles nest on those highest cliffs.|
|Did I mention the wild horses?|
|To get a better view in the grassland, simply hop atop some bison dung.|
|Not a great photo, but this is the Yellow-breasted Chat that almost got me killed, so he deserves a spot here.|
|The Little Missouri River provides an excellent riparian oasis.|
Birding is fun anywhere you do it. I mean, we all love sewage ponds, don't we? But when you find good birds in a breathtaking natural area it's extra special. Here's a video I shot of a Lazuli Bunting. I think this captures the feel of the place. Watch it till the end, it's short.
|Sunset at Painted Canyon. I can hear the Spotted Towhees serenading the last light of day.|