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Just the second time I'd seen the species in the county, this red knot was one of many shorebird species present during the extremely high water of spring, 2009. Keith Corliss/The Pioneer

Flight lines: Falling short of county bird challenge

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It had been accomplished twice in the past, once in 2005 in Burleigh County, and again in 2007 in McHenry County. But no one that we know of had done it in Cass.

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This all started rather innocently several years ago when Corey Ellingson, a devout bird-watcher from Bismarck, issued a challenge to the state's birders. It was simply this: Find 250 bird species in one North Dakota county in the span of one calendar year.

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