Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
The Buffalo Gap National Grasslands offer a rich diversity of prairie habitats, including riparian areas, woody draws, shrublands, juniper breaks, and open grasslands. Intermingled private lands add croplands and shelterbelts to the impressive habitat mosaic.
A tremendous number of birds, over 230 specieslarge and small, silent and noisyspend part of the year here. Prairie birds are predominant and conspicuous, such as the Western meadowlark and Horned lark. Birds of prey find perfect hunting in the open country and can often be seen soaring above the grasslands. Stock ponds and cooperative Ducks Unlimited impoundments have created habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. The juniper breaks and woody draws are a sharp contrast to the grasslands, and provide critical habitat for many bird species.
An excellent checklist is available at the visitor center. Birdwatchers are encouraged to report observations of birds listed as rare, and birds not listed, to the Forest Service offices:
Trees: Cottonwoods, green ash, boxelder, elm, and juniper in woody draws and riparian areas. Various native and introduced species in shelterbelts.
Upland Shrubs: Big sagebrush, silver sagebrush, and greasewood (western half only)
Other Shrubs: Buffaloberry, chokecherry, plum, and willow found primarily in woody draws, and riparian areas, as well as in shelterbelts
Short Grass: Primarily buffalograss and blue grama on plains
Mid & Tall Grasses: Primary mid grasses: wheatgrass, green needlegrass, and sideoats grama. Tall grasses include prairie sandreed and prairie cordgrass.
Open Water: Occurs in streams, stockponds, and reservoirs. (Ice-covered mid-November to mid-March.)
Marsh: Primarily cattails and bulrush around stockponds
Shorelines: Bare ground around reservoirs and along streams
Prairie Dog Towns: Occur locally throughout area
Cliffs & Steep Banks: Badlands, stream cutbanks, and gullies
Cropland: Only on private land
Buildings, Bridges, & Various Structures: Mostly on private land
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication