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South Dakota Birding Hotspot

Outdoor Campus - Sioux Falls

Minnehaha County

Click on points to view actual ground photos and birding information for those locations.  Use the Google tools to switch between road maps, terrain, or satellite images.


The Outdoor Campus is in the southern part of Sioux Falls, about a half a mile southeast of the mall.  From I-229, take the Louise exit and go north until you get to 49th street.  Turn right until you get to Oxbow Avenue, and turn right again.  After about 2 blocks you'll see the entrance to Sertoma Park on your left.  A parking lot sits right in front of the Outdoor Campus.

Geographic Coordinates:  43° 30' 21'' N,  96° 45' 43'' W


The Outdoor Campus hosts a diverse array of habitats, right in the heart of South Dakota's biggest city.  Established as an educational facility for outdoor activities, classes taught include fishing, canoeing, hiking, and yes, bird watching.  It is found in the midst of Seratoma Park, an area which also includes the Sertoma Butterfly House and a popular playground. 

The aerial photograph below shows the different habitats of the Outdoor Campus.  Trails weave through maintained grasslands, along the open water of a slough and its associated wetland vegetation, and through woodlands.  Despite the location in the heart of the city, this variety of habitats attracts a large number of bird species.

Points of Note:

The primary trails through the Outdoor Campus are shown on the aerial photo below (shown in red).  Click on the numbers on the image below for actual ground photos for those locations.  The trails are all easily accessible with no climbs or drops of elevation, and are relatively short in distance.   Immediately in back of the Outdoor Campus building are sets of feeders which attract a variety of species.  

Two large grassland areas can be found, and are labeled on the image below.  Trails go around and through each of the grassland areas.  The grassland loop on the right has many nest boxes setup, most of which are inhabited by Tree Swallows in the summer months.  The grasslands can hold a variety of grassland species such as Sedge Wrens, and even offers views of Ring-necked Pheasants right in the heart of Sioux Falls.

Much of the Outdoor Campus is a riparian area with wetland and open water, created from an oxbow off of the Big Sioux River to the east.  Trails are found on both sides of the oxbow, winding along the edges of the grassland, through the riparian woodlands, and along the wetlands of the sloughs.  The sloughs may contain a variety of waterfowl, occasionally wading birds, and occasionally a few shorebirds during migration.  The woodlands found along the slough hold a variety of woodland species, and can be a truly wonderful place to find warblers during the spring migration.

Birds of Note:

The diversity of habitat attracts a variety of species.  Grassland areas may hold Sedge Wrens, Tree Swallows (on nesting boxes), Eastern Bluebirds, Ring-necked Pheasants, and other typical grassland species.

The feeders immediately behind the Outdoor Campus building attract the usual array of feeder birds, including several types of woodpeckers (Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Red-headed, and Northern Flicker), a variety of sparrows depending upon season (House, Harris's, Lincoln's, White-crowned, White-throated, American Tree, and Dark-eyed Juncos), both White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches (seasonal), Northern Cardinals, and occasionally other woodland species such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

The riparian woodlands around the sloughs may attract nearly any woodland species found in southeastern South Dakota, and have even occasionally hosted a Barred Owl, a true rarity in South Dakota.  Cooper's Hawks commonly nest in these trees. Northern Goshawks have also been found around the Outdoor Campus in the winter.  Scarlet Tanagers and Indigo Buntings can sometimes be found.  A key attraction of these woodlands, however, is the warblers which migrate through in the spring.  Some of the less common warblers that may sometimes be found here include the Golden-winged Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Blackburnian Warbler

The sloughs and water features of the Outdoor Campus may attract the typical waterfowl that summer in the region, and are especially good for nesting Wood Ducks Belted Kingfishers may be found almost anywhere along these water features, and examining the pond from the small willows along the edges of the pond. Wading birds such as Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Green Herons can occasionally be found here (especially during migration), while American Bitterns and Sora can occasionally be found in the wetland vegetation.  While not a prime spot for shorebirds, small numbers can sometimes be found in the sloughs during migration.

Click on the photos or species names on the bottom of this page for actual bird photos taken within the Outdoor Campus.

Other Birding Locations (sorted by distance):


Bird Photos from the Outdoor Campus

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos Wood Duck - Aix sponsa Green Heron - Butorides virescens
Mallard Wood Duck Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-heron - Nyctanassa violacea Sharp-shinned Hawk - Accipiter striatus Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
Yellow-crowned Night-heron Sharp-shinned Hawk Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimus
Red-tailed Hawk Downy Woodpecker Least Flycatcher
Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapilla Swainson's Thrush - Catharus ustulatus
Tree Swallow Black-capped Chickadee Swainson's Thrush
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum Orange-crowned Warbler - Vermivora celata
Gray Catbird Cedar Waxwing Orange-crowned Warbler
Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensis Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronata American Tree Sparrow - Spizelloides arborea
Northern Waterthrush Yellow-rumped Warbler American Tree Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow - Spizella pallida Lincoln's Sparrow - Melospiza lincolnii Harris's Sparrow - Zonotrichia querula
Clay-colored Sparrow Lincoln's Sparrow Harris's Sparrow