Conservation Program Area

Prairie Coteau

Paul Raymaker

A landscape significantly impacted by the glaciers that once advanced over it, the Prairie Coteau is also known as Minnesota’s “duck factory” for its numerous small lakes and ponds.

This area encompasses Minnesota’s portion of a high, glacially-formed plateau that stretches from northeastern South Dakota into southwestern Minnesota. Known colloquially as “Buffalo Ridge”, this windswept landscape was historically dominated by native prairie and wetlands. Although a few scattered remnants of native prairie remain, the landscape today is dominated by agricultural land uses. Prairie pothole wetlands and shallow lakes that have not been drained for agricultural use provide critical habitat for migratory waterfowl and are considered part of Minnesota’s ‘duck factory’ that produces many of the region’s ducks.

As you might expect for the duck factory, a number of ducks species can be found in the area, but so can unique birds like the American white pelican, Swainson’s Hawk, and burrowing owl. The burrowing owl in particular is a state endangered species that is unique in this area of Minnesota. Other unique animals include jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and badgers.


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