South Dakota Birds and Birding - Home Page


South Dakota Birding"Hotspot"

Good Earth State Park

Point #1 - Good Earth Entrance Road

The photos below represent the entrance sign to Good Earth State Park, and typical habitat along the road that leads to the park Visitor's Center. The entrance is rather unusual, with a road a little over 1 mile that winds through some wonderful grassland habitat. That habitat is a thin strip of habitat amongst farmland and pasture, with a width that varies quite a bit along the entrance road. Unlike a lot of grassland in eastern South Dakota, it's not completely dominated by invasive Smooth Brome grass, a species that tends to form near monocultures and restricts biodiversity. There's a nice mix of grasses and herbaceous vegetation along the entrance road, providing some wonderful habitat for grassland species.

Good birding can start right from the park entrance, as the grassland habitat along the road stretches all the way from the entrance sign to the Visitor's Center. In summer months, typical grassland species can be found here, while during migration, the grassy area is often alive with migrating sparrows. There are a couple of slightly wetter spots along the entrance road as well, so the area can even hold birds that prefer wetland vegetation, as I've found Sedge Wrens, Marsh Wrens, and Swamp Sparrows along the road. A good strategy is to just take your time as you enter the park, walking it if you can. Or at a minimum, drive slowly with your windows down, and listen for the sounds of the season, whether it's the buzzy calls of a Clay-colored Sparrow migrating southward in the fall, or the sweet, tinkly sound of a Bobolink in the spring and summer months.

In the fall, the grassland area often seems to hold higher numbers of one of my favorite species than I can find anywhere else in South Dakota...LeConte's Sparrow. The photo of a LeConte's Sparrow below was taken along the entrance road.

Good Earth State Park - Entrance Sign

Good Earth State Park - Entrance Road

LeConte's Sparrow - Ammodramus leconteii

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Please mail any comments/suggestions/additional links for this page to: Terry L. Sohl