Bird Guide

Initially this guide displays common birds of all types that are flying right now in our area. Use the selectors below to view rare birds, view birds flying any time, restrict the output to a certain shape of bird, or search by name.

New Mexico is on the western edge of the Central Flyway which is one of the major migration pathways between north and south for birds traveling between breeding and wintering grounds along the Rocky Mountains. This has resulted in the state having an incredible diversity of birds with over 550 different species reported. A little more than half of this number are sighted annually on the Pajarito Plateau. Some of these birds are full-time residents, some migrate here for a few weeks or months, and other are only seen briefly as they pass through the region.

This guide features many of the birds known to frequent Los Alamos county by when they are likely to be seen in the area. You can get additional information on local birds by joining PEEC Birders or going to the eBird website. eBird also includes lists of rare bird sightings and birding hot spots.

Bird References

Birdweb
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
eBird
eNature
Institute for Bird Populations
National Audubon Society
New Mexico Ornithology Society
What Bird
xeno-canto

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

Web Development and Content Management

Pat Bacha
Jennifer Macke
Graham Mark
Akkana Peck

Contact

Please contact us for local nature questions and sightings. We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to our guides.

For more information about local nature, please visit our Nature Blog or subscribe to PEEC This Week.

Make selection

Flying now     Flying anytime

Common     Include rare

Shape:



Search for birds:


Showing 120 of 176 birds.
male

Photo: male by Betsy Matsubara

female

Photo: female by Betsy Matsubara

nest

Photo: nest by Ryan J. Daniels

Bushtit, American Bushtit; Least Titmouse

BUSH (Psaltriparus minimus)

Family: Aegithalidae (Bushtits)
Size: 3.8 - 4 in (10 - 10 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are similar with gray and brown plumage; males have a dark rim around the eye while females have a yellow one

Status: native; common
Food source: wide variety of tiny insects, insect eggs, spiders, berries and some seeds

Habitat: deciduous growth, chaparral, pinyon-juniper and pine-oak woods

The American Bushtit is the smallest passerine bird in North America. These birds are very sociable, particularly in winter when they form flocks and will even huddle together on cold nights. They are most often seen congregating in trees or at feeders in large groups. When ready to move on, they tend to fly off one at a time and may perform acrobatic stunts. Bushtits tend to forage in flocks except when nesting. They probe at the base of leaves or needles for insects. Bushtit nests are hang down from a branch and are made of moss and lichen held together with spider silk and lined with feathers. Both parents incubate and fed the young (eggs hatch in about 12 days, young fledge in approximately 2 weeks; typically 2 broods per year).

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



breeding male

Photo: breeding male by Maggie Smith

non-breeding male

Photo: non-breeding male by Diana-Terry Hibbitts

female

Photo: female by Fyn Kynd

Lazuli Bunting

LAZB (Passerina amoena)

Family: Cardinalidae (Cardinals, Grosbecks, and Allies)
Size: 5 - 5.5 in (13 - 14 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Oct 01

Morphology: breeding males are brilliant blue above with a pumpkin-colored breast and a white belly; non-breeding males have mottled blue and tan head and back with pumpkin-colored breast; females are grayish-brown above with pale cinnamon or tan breast

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: seeds make up most of winter diet; insects are more than half of summer diet; young fed mostly insects

Habitat: brushy ravines and slopes, cleared areas, weedy pastures
Typical location: Rio Grande

In summer male Lazuli Buntings will sing out from the treetops but the plainer females tend to remain hidden in thick bushes. During migration, though, both sexes are more conspicuous as whole flocks can be seen foraging. They most often search for seeds on the ground or in low growth and occasionally take insects while hovering. They may visit feeders and water gardens. Cup-shaped nests constructed of grasses and roots can be found in bushes. The young hatch in about 12 days and leave the nest in another 10 to 12 days. The Lazuli Bunting and Indigo Bunting may cross-bred in areas such as the Southwest where their breeding ranges overlap.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Greg Lasley

adult

Photo: adult by Christian Schwarz

Brewer's Sparrow

BRSP (Spizella breweri, Spinus psaltria)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 in (13 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Oct 21

Morphology: adults have a gray-brown back with streaks, a gray breast, and a thin white eyering

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: seeds and insects; can survive for long periods of time without water eating only dry seeds

Habitat: sagebrush, alpine meadows
Typical location: The Stables

The Brewer’s Sparrow has few field marks and is easily confused with other sparrows. It forages on the ground and in low shrubs. Outside of breeding season, these birds typically forage for food as part of a flock which may include other species of sparrows. Males sing in spring to defend their nesting territory but may also sing as part of a chorus in winter while perched on top of desert shrubs. Nests are well hidden and cup-shaped. Little is known about the young except that they typically leave the nest at a little over a week of age prior to being able to fly.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



breeding adult

Photo: breeding adult by Gowri Srinivasan

non-breeding adult

Photo: non-breeding adult by Mouser Williams

immature

Photo: immature by Bob Walker

Chipping Sparrow

CHSP (Spizella passerina)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 5.5 in (13 - 14 cm)
Flies: Mar 15 - Nov 01

Morphology: breeding adults have a pale face, black line through the eye, and a bright rusty crown; non-breeding adults have more subdued coloring particularly for the crown; immatures have a dark crown and streaky plumage

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly insects including grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles and grass and weed seeds

Habitat: edges of grassy woodlands, gardens, parks
Typical location: Los Alamos

Chipping Sparrows are common over much of North America. These birds are relatively tame and gregarious, particularly in winter. They primarily forage on the ground or in low trees and shrubs, often in flocks. In many areas they will nest in trees in gardens and parks. The nest is a compact open cup made of grasses lined with finer materials like hair. Eggs are incubated for a week and a half to two weeks. The young leave the nest in a week to a week and half after hatching. There can be two broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

raiding thistle feeder

Photo: raiding thistle feeder by Bob Walker

Pine Siskin, Pine Linnet

PISI (Carduelis pinus, Spinus pinus)

Family: Fringillidae (Finches)
Size: 4.5 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males are grayish brown with brown striping and yellow edges on both wings and tail; females are more brownish with much less yellow

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly seeds and other vegetable matter; some insects; may eat flower parts and young shoots

Habitat: mixed woodlands, thickets, brushy pastures

Although Pine Siskins are patterned like sparrows, their overall behavior emphasizes that they are are related to goldfinches. They actively forage for seeds in trees and shrubs and can spend all day at a thistle feeder. Pine Siskins are an irruptive species meaning that they can have an irregular migration pattern, i.e., large flocks of these birds are sometimes observed in unexpected areas. Pine Siskins may nest in loose colonies or isolated pairs. Cup-shaped nests are usually well hidden in a conifer. Incubation time is about 2 weeks with the young leaving the nest 2 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male, Eastern variant

Photo: male, Eastern variant by Bob Walker

male, Western variant

Photo: male, Western variant by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

Lesser Goldfinch, Arkansas Goldfinch

LEGO (Carduelis psaltria, Spinus psaltria)

Family: Fringillidae (Finches)
Size: 3.5 - 4 in (9 - 10 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: breeding males are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches around the tail; Eastern variant has a black back, whereas the Western variant has an olive back; breeding females are dull yellow beneath and olive above; nonbreeding birds are drab brown with blackish wings and pale wing bars

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly eats seeds, in particular composites such as thistle and sunflower; will also feed on flowers, buds, and berries as well as some small insects

Habitat: open brushy country, open woods, wooded streams, gardens

The Lesser Goldfinch is a common summer visitor that is attracted to feeders, hanging around all day if there is thistle seed present. These birds remain in flocks, except when nesting, actively moving through trees, shrubs, and weeds in search of food. In the warmer parts of the Southwest breeding may extend from early spring to mid-autumn. Open cup nests are build on a vertical fork in a shrub or tree fairly high above the ground. Incubation time is about 12 days. However, the time it takes for the young to leave the nest is not known. There are usually two and sometime three broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



breeding male

Photo: breeding male by Mouser Williams

breeding female

Photo: breeding female by molanic

nonbreeding adult

Photo: nonbreeding adult by Jerry Oldenettel

American Goldfinch, Black-winged Yellow Bird

AMGO (Carduelis tristis, Spinus tristis)

Family: Fringillidae (Finches)
Size: 4.5 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: breeding males are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white rump; breeding females are dull yellow beneath and olive above; non breeding birds of both sexes are drab brown overall with black wings and dark beak

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: primarily small seeds but will feed on some insects in summer

Habitat: brushy thickets, weedy grasslands

The American Goldfinch can be seen year-round in the area. This is in contrast to the Lesser Goldfinch which is only a summer visitor. The American Goldfinch actively forages in weeds and shrubs and will climb up into plants such as thistle to reach the seeds. They can be seen at feeders. Nesting occurs in July and August. The cup-like nest is very compact, usually located high above the ground on a horizontal or upright fork of a tree. The young hatch about two weeks after the eggs are laid. Both parents feed the young until they leave the nest at about 11 to 17 days old.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

adult

Photo: adult by David Yeamans

fledgling

Photo: fledgling by Bob Walker

Juniper Titmouse

JUTI (Baeolophus ridgwayi, Baeolophus griseus)

Family: Paridae (Chickadees and Titmice)
Size: 5.8 in (15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both males and females have gray bodies, paler bellies, dark eyes, short bill, and pointed crest

Status: native; common
Food source: mainly insects and some spiders but also eats nuts and seeds

Habitat: pinyon-juniper woodland, oak or pine woodlands

Juniper Titmice will come to bird feeders but can often be seen hopping around on tree branches hunting for food. Sometimes they will even hang upside down while searching for insects. In addition, they are capable of opening nuts and acorns by pounding them with their bills while holding the nuts with their feet. During winter, titmice tend to congregate into roaming groups. Nests are usually located in a hole or some other type of natural cavity in a tree. However, Juniper Titmice will also use nest boxes. The nest is filled with grass, weeds, and other fibers and then lined with feathers or animal hair. Females are responsible for the incubation of the eggs which hatch in a little over 2 weeks. Both parents then fed the young until they leave the nest in another 2 to 3 weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult with nesting material

Photo: adult with nesting material by Mouser Williams

Mountain Chickadee

MOCH (Poecile gambeli, Parus gambeli)

Family: Paridae (Chickadees and Titmice)
Size: 5 - 5.8 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: black cap and bib with white cheeks and grey sides; only chickadee with a white eye stripe

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects such as caterpillars and beetles but also seeds and berries

Habitat: mountain forests, conifer forests

Chickadees are small birds with large heads that often hang upside down to pluck small insects from conifer needles. These birds are fearless, inquisitive, and constantly foraging. They are attracted by oil sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts and peanut butter to feeders. They live at high altitudes in the summer but descend to lowlands in the winter. Females lay 7 to 9 white or lightly spotted eggs in a hair- or fur-lined natural cavity or woodpecker hole. Eggs hatch in about 14 days. Young fledge around 3 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Terry Foxx

Wilson's Warbler

WIWA (Cardellina pusilla, Sylvania pusilla)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4.3 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Jun 15 and Aug 01 - Oct 07
Morphology: males are bright yellow below and yellowish olive above with distinctive black eyes and black cap; females are similar but show variation in the amount of black on the top of the head from a few feathers to enough to form a small cap

Status: native; locally common
Food source: insects including bees, wasps, beetles, caterpillars, and aphids

Habitat: moist thickets in woodlands and along streams; near scrub oaks
Typical location: Ashley Pond

The Wilson’s Warbler is a small, very active bird that often flips its long tail as it hops from branch to branch while foraging. It will also fly out to catch insects mid-air or hop along the ground probing among fallen leaves for food. These birds will visit water gardens. Open cup nests are usually located on the ground at the base of a shrub or sunken in the ground vegetation. Typically the eggs hatch in 10 to 13 days. The young leave the nest a week or two later. Cowbirds often lay eggs in the nests of these warblers.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Jerry Oldenettel

female

Photo: female by Steven Mlodinow

MacGillivray's Warbler

MGWA (Geothlypis tolmiei, Geothlypis macgillivrayi,)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4.8 - 5.5 in (12 - 14 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 21

Morphology: males have dark gray heads, throats, and upper breasts with olive-colored backs and wings, white crescents above and below the eyes, and yellow underparts; females have gray-olive heads, throats and upper breasts, olive upperparts, yellow underparts, and white arches around the eyes; immature are similar to the females but duller

Status: native; common
Food source: diet not well known but assumed to consist mostly of insects

Habitat: coniferous forest edges, burns, brushy cuts
Typical location: Los Alamos Reservoir

The MacGillivray’s Warbler is a skulker, hiding out in dense brush, making it hard to spot. It is also a loner, even during migration season. These birds typically forage close to the ground, hopping along looking for insects. They may visit water gardens. Males sing to defend a nesting territory. Nests are well hidden, a few feet off of the ground in the fork of a shrub/tree or in tall weeds. The loosely constructed cup-shaped nests seem to be relatively immune to parasitization by cowbirds. Young leave the nest at a little over a week old.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

adult showing orange crown

Photo: adult showing orange crown by Hari Viswanathan

adult showing hint of orange

Photo: adult showing hint of orange by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

Orange-crowned Warbler

OCWA (Oreothlypis celata, Leiothlypis celata)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4.5 - 5.5 in (11 - 14 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Oct 15

Morphology: yellow to olive-grey coloring overall with a thin white stripe over the eye, a black line through the eye, and a pale partial eyering; thin, sharp bill and square tail; the orange crown patch is inconspicuous and usually only seen when a bird raises its head feathers

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects with some nectar, sap, and berries; feed young on insect larvae

Habitat: forest edges, burns, clearings, thickets, shrubby undergrowth

The Orange-crowned Warbler is one of the plainer warblers and one of the most hardy. It usually flies solo but may join a loosely associated flock. These warblers tend to forage in low bushes and deciduous trees, flitting from branch-to-branch looking for insects or hopping around on the ground. In addition, they will pierce the base of flowers with their bill to sip nectar. They will also come to feeders for suet and peanut butter. Open cup nests are built low to or on the ground, protected by overhanging vegetation. The female lays 4 to 5 white eggs with reddish-brown spots. The eggs will hatch in a little less than two weeks. The young birds are fed by both parents and are ready to leave the nest about two weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

male

Photo: male by DP Lawrence

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

Virginia's Warbler

VIWA (Oreothlypis virginiae, Vermivora virginiae)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4 - 4.3 in (10 - 11 cm)
Flies: Mar 21 - Oct 07

Morphology: adults are gray overall with a white breast and white eyerings; males have bright yellow markings on the chest and under the rump along with a chestnut patch on the crown which is usually hidden; females are pale yellow on the chest and only sometimes have the chestnut patch on the crown

Status: native; locally common
Food source: not well know, presumably mostly insects

Habitat: scrub oak, chaparral, pinyon-juniper, pine-oak woodlands

The Virginia’s Warbler is named for the wife of the army surgeon who discovered the bird in New Mexico in 1858. These birds prefer brushy areas and can be seen hopping around shrubs during the spring, summer, and fall but will come to water gardens. They usually taken insects directly off of foliage or flowers but may catch some on the ground or in mid-air. Nests are very hard to find as they are placed on the ground and covered with dense brush. Although nests are rarely parasitized by cowbirds, young often fall prey to jays and snakes.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Robin Agarwal

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

Grace's Warbler

GRWA (Setophaga graciae, Dendroica graciae)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4.5 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Sep 15

Morphology: small birds that have a gray back and white belly with black streaks down sides of chest and flanks, yellow chin, throat, and breast, a yellow eyestripe, and a yellow crescent under the eye; females are paler, more brown than males; immatures are similar to adults but duller with less streaks

Status: native; locally common
Food source: not well known but presumed to almost exclusively eat insects and their larvae

Habitat: pine forests, mixed pine and oak

Grace’s Warblers spend most of their time in the tops of tall pine trees, making it difficult to see them. They will search among the branches to find insects as well as to fly out and catch them mid-air. Details of the life history of these birds is not well-known. However, males have been observed defending a nesting territory by singing, and females seen to be responsible for nest building. Nests are an open cup-shape and well hidden, often placed in a cluster of pine needles high above the ground. There are normally 2 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Fyn Kynd

female

Photo: female by Selvi Viswanathan

Black-throated Gray Warbler

BTYW (Setophaga nigrescens, Dendroica nifrescens)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4.5 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Oct 01

Morphology: adults have have gray backs with white faces and underparts, a black mask, white wingbars, small yellow square in front of the eyes, and white spots on the tail; males have a black throats and black streaks on the sides; females have a black band on the breast but lack black on the throat; immatures like females

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly insects with a preference for green caterpillars

Habitat: shrubby openings in coniferous forest, dry scrub oak, pinyon-juniper, chaparral
Typical location: Barranca Mesa

Black-throated Gray Warblers are sometimes mistaken for the Black-and-white Warbler, but the latter are rarely seen in the area. These birds are short-distant migrants, traveling from breeding areas in the western United States to only as far south as Mexico. They typically forage by searching for insects among leaves but may also fly out to catch flying insects. In winter, they will forage in mixed flocks. Little is known about the Black-throated Gray Warbler’s nesting habits other than that the nest is of an open cup design made of plant and animal fibers. However, these birds have been observed defending their nests by pretending to have a broken wing in order to distract an intruder.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

Yellow Warbler

YEWA (Setophaga petechia, Dendroica petechia)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 4.5 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Oct 01

Morphology: small, uniformly yellow birds with unremarkable large black eyes; males are brighter yellow than females and have reddish streaks on underparts

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly insects with up to two-thirds of diet consisting of caterpillars of various kinds; also feeds on spiders and some berries

Habitat: moist thickets, residential areas

Yellow Warblers will visit water gardens during the spring and fall migration. They can also be seen in deciduous trees where they forage among the twigs and foliage, often hovering briefly to reach insects on the undersides of leaves. Males actively court females for several days. Females then build open, cup-shaped nests placed among the branches in a shrub or tree. These nests are easy to find and are often taken advantage of by cowbirds. Yellow Warblers will try to thwart the cowbirds by building a new nest over the old one and laying a new clutch of their own. These birds are persistent and there has been a report of six layers of nests build by one warbler.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

breeding male

Photo: breeding male by Greg Lasley

female

Photo: female by Jerry Oldenettel

nest with egg

Photo: nest with egg by Mouser Williams

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

BGGN (Polioptila caerulea)

Family: Polioptilldae (Gnatcatchers)
Size: 4.3 - 5 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Sep 21

Morphology: thin, blue-gray birds with long legs and tails, thin bills, grayish-white underparts, a black tail with white edges, and a white eyering; breeding males have a black “V” on their foreheads; females and non-breeding males are much less blue and lack the facial “V”

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects and spiders

Habitat: wooded areas,stream-side thickets, pinyon-juniper, chaparral

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is the northernmost species of gnatcatcher and the only one that truly migrates. These birds spend the summer here, flitting about in the treetops, flicking their tails from side-to-side potentially to stir up hiding insects. They may also dart out to grab a insect in mid-air. They remove the wings of larger insects and then beat them on a branch before eating them. Males arrive first in breeding areas and sing to both defend a territory and attract a female. Nests, mostly made of plant materials, are camouflaged in spiderwebs and lichen. There may be 1 or 2 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male with crown slightly visible

Photo: male with crown slightly visible by Bob Walker

male with crown erect

Photo: male with crown erect by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

RCKI (Regulus calendula, Corthylio calendula)

Family: Regulidae (Kinglets)
Size: 3.8 - 4.5 in (10 - 11 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are olive-green with a white eyeing, black and white wingbars, thin tail, and small beak; males have a red crown which is most visible when the bird raises its head feathers

Status: native; common
Food source: whatever insects are most readily available for the given season; also eats some berries, seeds, sap, and potentially nectar

Habitat: deciduous and coniferous forests, thickets

Ruby-crowned Kinglets live high in conifers during summer and, as such, are often hard to see. During the colder months, these tiny birds are potentially more visible as they flit about closer to the ground. They will most often perch on branches and twigs examining foliage for food. However, they can hover while foraging and may even fly out to catch an insect mid-air. During courtship, the male sings and raises its crown feathers to attract a female. The female builds a deep cup nest high up in a tree where it is protected by foliage from above. There are usually 7 to 8 eggs that are incubated for two weeks. The young usually leave the nest about 16 days later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

Bewick's Wren, Mocking Wren

BEWR (Thryomanes bewickii)

Family: Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Size: 5.5 in (14 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males and females look similar; medium-sized body with long, barred tail that is tipped with white and held upright; brown on top and grey on the bottom with a white stripe over the brow

Status: native; common
Food source: eats a variety of insects, including beetles, ants, caterpillars, and grasshoppers; also eats spiders, some berries, and some seeds

Habitat: thickets, brush piles, hedgerows, open woodlands, scrubby areas

Bewick’s Wrens are most often seen climbing and hopping along tree branches or exploring in leaf litter. They are known for waving their tails about and making harsh noises if disturbed. These birds nest in any kind of cavity, either natural or manmade, including nest boxes. Males build “dummy” incomplete nests to attract the females. The female then choses a site and competes the nest by lining it with various materials. Eggs hatch is about 2 weeks with the young leaving the nest around 2 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Marion L. Stelts

adult

Photo: adult by Sally King, NPS

House Wren

HOWR (Troglodytes aedon)

Family: Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Size: 4.5 - 5.3 in (11 - 13 cm)
Flies: Mar 21 - Oct 01

Morphology: both sexes are brown overall with dark bars on the wings and tail and a faint eyebrow

Status: native; common
Food source: wide variety of insects and spiders

Habitat: residential areas, city parks, farmlands, woodland edges

Like other wrens, the House Wren is known for holding its tail cocked above the line of the body. These birds are very active and inquisitive and can often be seen fussing in brush piles and singing in the trees nears gardens and parks. They will forage both high up in trees as well as on the ground. House Wrens are extremely territorial and have been known to destroy the eggs of other species by pecking a hole in them. A male will build several incomplete nests of twigs and plant fibers. His mate will then choose the final nesting spot. House Wrens will use nesting boxes as will and a variety of different enclosed spaces such as flowerpots or drainpipes as nesting sites. Males may have more than one mate and females may leave one male to care for the young while she moves on to mate with another male.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Daniel Sheron

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

Hammond's Flycatcher

HAFL (Empidonax hammondii)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 5 - 5.5 in (13 - 14 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 01

Morphology: adults are primarily gray overall with prominent white eyering and wingbars; immatures are similar to the adults but with broader, more buff wingbarsadults are primarily gray overall with prominent white eyering and wingbars; immatures are similar to the adults but with broader, more buff wingbars

Status: native; locally common
Food source: feeds only on insects

Habitat: mature coniferous forests at high altitudes

Hammond’s Flycatchers are very similar to Dusky Flycatchers but seem to prefer cooler habitats and nesting sites higher in the mountains and farther north. Hammond’s Flycatchers constantly move while perched, flicking wings and cocking their tails at same time. They carefully watch from a perch, and then fly out to catch their prey or pick it directly off of the surface of foliage or branches. A male will vigorously defend a territory during breeding season and may actually fight other males. Nests are usually located on a horizontal branch and consist of a cup made of stems, bark, lichens and other materials like feathers and spiderwebs. Young fledge at about 2 1/2 weeks old but tend to stay with their parents for another week or two.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Marion L. Stelts

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Gray Flycatcher, Wright's Flycatcher

GRFL (Empidonax wrightii, Empidonax canescens)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 5.5 in (14 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Sep 21

Morphology: adults have gray back, white belly, thin eyering. pale wingbars, and pale mark in front of the eye; immature similar to adult but with brownish upperparts, buff underparts, and buff wingbars

Status: native; locally common
Food source: only insects

Habitat: sagebrush, pinyon-juniper woodlands

Gray Flycatchers, which are very similar to Dusky Flycatchers, seldom sit still for long. They slowly lower and raise their tails when perched. These birds watch for insects from an exposed perch and then fly out to catch them, either on the ground or in mid-air. Gray Flycatchers winter farther north than other species in the same genus. They can commonly be seen in southern Arizona during the winter months. They typically build nests in inconspicuous areas in the crook of a bush or tree and sometimes nest in a loose colonies. The young fledge at a little over 2 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult near nest

Photo: adult near nest by Bob Walker

Warbling Vireo

WAVI (Vireo gilvus)

Family: Vireonidae (Vireos)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Sep 21

Morphology: western variation - both sexes are olive-gray to brownish on the top and whitish below with a yellow wash on the sides, a brown line through the eye, and a pale line over the eye

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects with some berries

Habitat: deciduous woodlands especially near streams

Warbling Vireo have the largest range in North America of any member of the Vireonidae family. They are commonly seen perched high up. These birds usually forage in deciduous trees or shrubs by hopping along twigs in searching for insects. They can also hover briefly and pick insects off the undersides of leaves. During courtship, males strut around near a potential nesting site with wings and tail spread out. Nests are deep, compact cups made of bark, grass, and other plant fibers. Nests of Warbling Vireos are often parasitized by Cowbirds.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

immature

Photo: immature by Paul Tavares

Cedar Waxwing

CEDW (Bombycilla cedrorum, Ampelis cedrorum)

Family: Bombycillidae (Waxwings)
Size: 6.5 - 8 in (17 - 20 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults of both sexes have a crest (often flopped over) and are brown on the head and back, yellow on the belly, and gray on the wings and tail; in addition, the face has a narrow black mask, the tail a bright yellow tip, and the wings waxy red tips which are often hidden; immatures are fairly similar to the adults but with a mottled breast

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly berries and insects

Habitat: open woodlands ,orchards,residential areas

Cedar Waxwings are seen in the area during the non-breeding season when they typically forage in flocks. They will sit in fruit trees devouring berries or hovering briefly nearby plucking fruit off of the trees. They will also take insects off of the foliage and may catch others in mid-air. Waxwings will come to a bird bath or other water source. Nesting usually does not occur until mid-summer and may take place in small colonies. Nests have a loosely build, open-cup structure. Under normal conditions, there are two broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

non-breeding male

Photo: non-breeding male by Jerry Oldenettel

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

Blue Grosbeak

BLGR (Passerina caerulea, Guiraca caerulea)

Family: Cardinalidae (Cardinals, Grosbecks, and Allies)
Size: 6 - 7.5 in (15 - 19 cm)
Flies: May 01 - Sep 15

Morphology: breeding males are a rich blue color overall with a black face mask, chestnut wingbars, a black and silver beak, and two wingbars (upper one chestnut and lower one gray); nonbreeding males are patchy blue and brown with cinnamon wingbars; females are cinnamon-brown overall (darker on the head and paler underneath) with a bluish tail, and two wingbars; immatures tend to be chestnut brown with chestnut wingbars

Status: native; locally common
Food source: eats many different kinds of insects and spiders along with a variety of seeds

Habitat: brushy moist pastures, thickets
Typical location: Rio Grande, White Rock Canyon

Blue Grosbeaks can be seen during spring and fall migration, though they can be hard to spot as they will often hide in thickets. They have a rich warbling song and a habit of twitching its tail sideways. These birds mostly forage on the ground or in low vegetation. Except when nesting, they usually forage in flocks. Males sing to defend the nesting territory while females build a compact open cup nest of twigs, weeds, etc. They will often add unusual materials like snakeskin which is thought to thwart predators. Cowbirds often lay eggs in the nests of grosbeaks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female or immature male

Photo: female or immature male by Mouser Williams

Black-headed Grosbeak

BHGR (Pheucticus melanocephalus, Habia melanocephala)

Family: Cardinalidae (Cardinals, Grosbecks, and Allies)
Size: 7.5 in (19 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Oct 01

Morphology: chunky-looking birds with large heads, gray bills, and thick necks; males are bright cinnamon with a black head and black-and-white_wings; males do not develop their showy plumage until their second breeding season; females and immature males are brown above with an orange or buff breast and often streaks on the sides of the breast

Status: native; common
Food source: variety of insect, seeds, and berries including those from mistletoe and poison oak; one of the few birds that can eat noxious monarch butterflies

Habitat: open deciduous woodlands near water

Black-headed Grosbeaks are common summer visitors in the local area. They mostly forage in shrubs and trees, looking for food among the foliage. They sometimes forage on the ground in low growth and are attracted to sunflower seed in feeders. Males will fly with wings and tail fully spread while singing to attract females. Nests are of a loosely constructed open cup design and so thin that eggs can be seen through the bottom. It is postulated that this is to allow for ventilation.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Corry Clinton

female

Photo: female by Corry Clinton

immature

Photo: immature by Selvi Viswanathan

Hepatic Tanager, Red Tanager, Liver-colored Tanager

HETA (Piranga flava)

Family: Cardinalidae (Cardinals, Grosbecks, and Allies)
Size: 7 - 8 in (18 - 20 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Oct 01

Morphology: males are dull liver-red to orange-red with gray on back and flanks; females are olive-yellow to orange-yellow with gray flanks; immatures similar to females

Status: native; locally common
Food source: largely feeds on insects including caterpillars and beetles but also eats berries and small fruits

Habitat: open forest areas with pines and oaks

The Hepatic Tanager has similar habits to the Western Tanager. It arrives in the area in the spring and stays through summer. Pairs can be seen hopping along branches and looking under foliage of tall pines while foraging for insects. There are a few dozen breeding pairs in the county. Nests are made of grasses and weeds in a shallow open cup shape that is placed on a horizontal branch away from the trunk of a tall tree. Eggs are bluish-green with brown spots. Neither the incubation time nor age at which the young fledge is known.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



breeding male

Photo: breeding male by Bob Walker

non-breeding male

Photo: non-breeding male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

Western Tanager

WETA (Piranga ludoviciana)

Family: Cardinalidae (Cardinals, Grosbecks, and Allies)
Size: 6 - 7.5 in (15 - 19 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Oct 07

Morphology: breeding males are yellow with black wings and a flaming orange-red head; non-breeding males are a duller yellow with limited red on the head; females are mostly yellow-green with gray contrasts

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects, some fruit, and berries

Habitat: open coniferous forests

The Western Tanager is a migratory bird spending its winters in Mexico and Central America and its summers in the western US and Canada. These birds may migrate alone or in groups of up to a few dozen. They primarily forage from tree tops, either gleaning insects by plucking them from the foliage or hawking which consists of flying out and catching them mid-air. In addition, they will eat fruit from feeders. Western Tanagers nest in high mountains and coniferous forests. The female builds a open cup-shaped nest and lays 3 to 5 bluish eggs. The young hatch in about 2 weeks and usually leave the nest 2 weeks later. Western Tanager nests may be parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds which reduces the number of tanager young that fledges.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by J.N.Stuart

Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Boucard's Summer Finch

RCSP (Aimophila ruficeps)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: large, gray sparrow with streaked back, reddish-brown crown, white eyering, and white stripes edged in black on the throat

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: varies with the season with insects in summer, seeds in winter

Habitat: open oak woodlands, dry uplands

Rufous-crowned Sparrows usually live in dense cover, skulking around on rocky, brushy hillsides and in canyons. However, they are not particularly shy and can be observed closely if left undisturbed. Pairs or family groups tend to forage together. They hop along the ground or feed in low bushes. Nests are usually well hidden on the ground. The young leave the nest before they are able to fly and may stay with their parents for up to several months after that.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

Oregon variant

Photo: Oregon variant by Jonathan Creel

grey-headed variant

Photo: grey-headed variant by Mouser Williams

pink-sided variant

Photo: pink-sided variant by Mouser Williams

Dark-eyed Junco

DEJU (Junco hyemalis)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 6.3 in (13 - 16 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are generally dark gray or brown with a pink bill and white outer tail feathers; there is a large range of geographical variation in color with the Oregon, white-winged, pink-sided, and grey-headed variations found in the local area

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly feeds on seeds and grasses with occasional small fruits and insects; young primarily fed insects

Habitat: open forests, mixed woods, fields, parks, gardens

Dark-Eye Juncos are lively territorial birds that are commonly called “snowbirds” because they are a herald of winter. They are often seen feeding on snow-covered berry bushes and grasses. They travel in flocks with one leader. Dark-eyed Juncos mostly forage on the ground, often under a feeding tray. They particularly enjoy gardens that have gone to seed with water nearby. Open cup-shaped nests are usually found on the ground hidden under things like overhanging grass or exposed roots. These birds may have multiple broods per year with incubation time being about 2 weeks. The young usually leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by David Yeamans

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

Lincoln's Sparrow, Lincoln's Finch

LISP (Melospiza lincolnii)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have streaky brown/gray wings and tail with rusty edges, buff underparts with black streaking, white belly, buffy mustache stripe bordered by thin brown lines, dark eyering, and brown and black stripped crown with a central gray stripe; note: the head may look crested when the crown feathers are raised

Status: native; locally common
Food source: primarily seeds with some insects; young fed entirely on insects

Habitat: brushy bogs, thickets

Lincoln’s Sparrows which resemble Song Sparrows are normally secretive. They often skulk in dense, low cover and can be found hiding in bushes by their distinctive call. These birds are solitary, rarely seen as part of a flock. They forage by hopping on the ground, most often under dense bushes or grasses. They will come to well-watered yards. Males defend their nesting territory by singing. Open cup nests of grasses are build on the ground by the females. They nests are well hidden by dense greenery.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

Song Sparrow

SOSP (Melospiza melodia, Melospiza cinerea)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 7 in (13 - 18 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have thick, brown streaks on a white chest and flanks along with reddish-brown and gray streaks on the head; birds in the Southwest are paler than in other parts of the country

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: eats a variety of insects and spiders in summer and mainly seeds in winter

Habitat: edges of forests, clearings, thickets open grassy marshes, gardens
Typical location: White Rock Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Song Sparrow is one of the most widespread and variable of North American birds. Song Sparrows live up to their name by singing constantly throughout the spring and summer. They are usually conspicuous by their sheer numbers. These birds usually forage on the ground but will readily come to feeders, often as part of a mixed flock with other sparrows. Males will defend small nesting territories. Open-cup nests may be located on the ground under cover or low in a tree.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

immature

Photo: immature by Alex Bairstow

Green-tailed Towhee

GTTO (Pipilo chlorurus, Chlorura chlorura)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 6.3 - 7 in (16 - 18 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Nov 01

Morphology: stocky, grayish adults with rufous crown, white throat, dark mustache, and olive-yellow wings, back, and tail; immatures lack the rufous crown and facial markings

Status: native; locally common
Food source: primarily eats seeds from weeds and grasses and insects such as beetles and crickets; occasionally eats berries

Habitat: sagebrush, chaparral, alpine meadow thickets

Green-tailed Towhees are usually seen in the local area during the summer. They have a brighter orange crest than the more common Canyon Towhee. They are the smallest towhees and the only ones that are entirely migratory. Like other towhees, the Green-tails search for food by scratching in the leaf-litter with both feet. They spend most of their time in low, bushy areas. However, they will come to forage below a feeding tray. Nests are of a deep, cup design and located on the ground or close to it in a low shrub.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Gowri Srinivasan

female

Photo: female by ADJ82

immature

Photo: immature by Bob Walker

Spotted Towhee

SPTO (Pipilo maculatus)

Family: Emberizidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 7 - 8.5 in (18 - 22 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adult males have white breast and rufous sides along with black head, throat, tail, and back/wings with white spots; adult females are the same but with dark brown where the males are black; immatures are streaked brown overall

Status: native; common
Food source: eats insects, seeds, and berries with diet varying with season

Habitat: forest edges, thickets, woodlands, parks

Once thought to be a variant of the Rufous-sided Towhee, the Spotted Towhee is now considered to be a separate species. Towhees are ground feeders, preferring to be near a thicket or in the underbrush. They are often first noticed because of the sound of their loud scratching while rummaging in leaf-litter for insects or for seeds at platform feeder. Their distinctive movements have been described as the “Towhee Shuffle”. Nests are typically located on the ground under a shrub or in a low bush and are of an open-cup design. Incubation time is about 2 weeks. The young leave the nest 9 to 11 days later. There are usually one to two broods per year and on rare occasions three.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

mixed flock

Photo: mixed flock by bob Walker

Evening Grosbeak

EVGR (Coccothraustes vespertina, Hesperiphona vespertina)

Family: Fringillidae (Cardinals, Grosbecks, and Allies)
Size: 7.5 - 8.5 in (19 - 22 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: heavyset birds with thick, conical bills; males are yellow and black and have a white patch on the wings, dark heads, bright-yellow stripe over eye, and pale ivory to greenish bill; females are primarily gray and have black and white wings, a greenish tinge to neck and flanks, and a greenish-yellow bill; immatures like females

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly seeds, some berries, buds and sap, occasional insects

Habitat: coniferous forests, deciduous woodlands, suburban areas

The Evening Grosbeak is a western bird that has expanded its range as far east as New England. Locally, they may be common one year and uncommon the next. These birds are very fond of sunflower seeds which they can easily crack with their large bills. Flocks will readily visit bird feeders to consume large amount of the seeds. They have been observed to eat almost 100 sunflower seeds in five minutes. Evening Grosbeaks will also consume a surprising quantity of raw salt. During mating season, the birds leave the flock to pair up. Males will perform a courtship dance. The nest, built by the female, consists of a loosely made cup of twigs and is usually located on branch well out from the trunk.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

Cassin's Finch

CAFI (Haemorhous cassinii, Carpodacus cassinii)

Family: Fringillidae (Finches)
Size: 6 - 6.5 in (15 - 17 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have thin white eye rings, notched tails, and long wings; males have a deep red crown and a rosy pink wash over the rest of the body; females are brown-and-white with dark streaks on the chest and underparts; immatures look like the females

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly eats vegetable matter (seeds, buds, berries, and fruits); occasionally eats insects in summer

Habitat: open conifer stands

Cassin’s Finches are common in the local area in spring and fall but uncommon in summer. These birds often forage in small roving flocks, feeding high up in trees, in weedy growth on the ground, or at bird feeders. Cassin’s Finches crave salt and may be seen visiting mineral deposits on the ground. Males retain their female-like plumage during their first breeding season. However, they will sing, giving the impression that both sexes sing. The complicated song of a male often includes imitations of other birds. Cassin’s Finches may nest in small colonies using open-cup nests located fairly high up in the trees. The number of breeding pairs in an area can vary from year-to-year.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Mouser Williams

female

Photo: female

nest

Photo: nest by J.N. Stuart

House Finch

HOFI (Haemorhous mexicanus, Carpodacus mexicanus)

Family: Fringillidae (Finches)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Status: native; common
Habitat: chaparral, deserts, orchards

House Finches are native to the Southwest but were released in New York during the 1940s and have subsequently expanded in such a way as to be found coast-to-coast. These finches will forage on the ground or while perching up in a shrub or tree. They typically forage in flocks except when nesting. They will visit feeders in large numbers. However, some consider them to be pests since they are susceptible to infections that can be spread to other feeder visitors. Males may sing anytime during the year but females only sing during spring. During breeding season, males will perform a flight-song display. Open cup nests can be found in a variety of locations including in trees, holes in man-made structures, hanging planters, and old nests of other birds. House Finches can have up to three broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    

male

Photo: male by Mouser Williams

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

immature male

Photo: immature male by Bob Walker

Red-winged Blackbird

RWBL (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Family: Icteridae (Blackbirds and Orioles)
Size: 7 - 9.5 in (18 - 24 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males are glossy black overall except for a red shoulder patch with a yellow border; females are brown with dark streaks and a buff-colored throat; immature males are black with buff or orange on the edges of their feathers and may show the beginning of shoulder patches

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly insects and seeds, some berries

Habitat: marshes, wet meadows, pastures
Typical location: Big Rock Loop, The Stables

Red-winged Blackbirds are seen in the area during spring, summer, and fall. Outside of breeding season, they can be found foraging in small flocks, often with other large birds. In the southern part of the state, they congregate in much larger groups. Red-winged Blackbirds usually forage while walking along on the ground, though sometimes they will go up shrubs or trees. Males will defend their territory and attract a mate by perching on a high stalk, fluffing their feathers, and singing. Nests are a bulky open cups that are placed among dense bushes or grasses. The eggs are incubated for 10 to 12 days. Young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Carey B

female

Photo: female by Steve Waller

egg on right in junco nest

Photo: egg on right in junco nest by Mouser Williams

Brown-headed Cowbird

BHCO (Molothrus ater)

Family: Icteridae (Blackbirds and Orioles)
Size: 6 - 8 in (15 - 20 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Oct 01

Morphology: small blackbirds with short tails, thick heads, and pointed bills; males are glossy black all over with the exception of a rich brown colored head; females are various shades of brown with streaking on their bellies; immatures look similar to the females

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly seeds, insects, spiders, and millipedes; seeds from grasses, weeds, and grains make up 50% of the diet in summer and 90% in winter

Habitat: agricultural land, fields, woodland edges, suburban areas
Typical location: The Stables

Brown-headed Cowbirds forage by walking along on the ground looking for food. They are thought to have originally followed bison in order to catch the insects kicked up from the grass by the animals. Today they often do the same thing by walking behind herds of cattle. Brown-headed Cowbirds are brood parasites, i.e., they lay their eggs in the nests of other songbirds, leaving the eggs to be incubated and raised by the host birds. Females may lay up to 40 eggs in a season, at a rate of one per day for several weeks. Cowbird eggs typically hatch before those of the host, so that they have a competitive advantage over the host’s own young. Cowbird young develop rapidly and usually leave the nest by about 10 days of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

Audubon male

Photo: Audubon male by J.N. Stuart

Audubon female

Photo: Audubon female by Mouser Williams

hybrid male

Photo: hybrid male by Mouser Williams

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon's Warbler, Myrtle Warbler

YRWA (Setophaga coronata)

Family: Parulidae (Wood Warblers)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Nov 21

Morphology: in summer both sexes are gray with white on the wings and yellow on the sides and rump, and in winter they are paler with more brown; overall, females are paler and more brown than males ; the “Myrtle” subspecies is characterized by a white throat and dark facial mask; the “Audubon” subspecies is characterized by a yellow throat and more white on the wings; hybrids can show traits of bot

Status: native; common
Food source: insects, spiders, and berries

Habitat: coniferous forests, mixed forests

There are two subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler: Myrtle, primarily seen in the east, and the Audubon, dominant in the west. These two subspecies can interbreed where their ranges overlap, including the Canadian Rockies. The prevailing subspecies in the local area is the Audubon with the occasional hybrid observed. These birds are the most common warblers in North America and are capable of wintering farther north than other warbler species. They sing from the high canopy of the forest with a chirp or "contact call" that keeps the flock together. Yellow-rumped Warblers have many different foraging strategies: searching among twigs and leaves, flying out to catch prey, hopping along the ground, and clinging to tree trunks and branches. They tend to forage in flocks in winter. They normally have 2 broods per year. Nests are usually found on a branch away from the trunk of a tree.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by ADJ82

immature

Photo: immature by Sally King, NPS

Lark Sparrow, Lark Finch

LASP (Chondestes grammacus)

Family: Passerellidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5.5 - 6.5 in (14 - 17 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Oct 01

Morphology: adults are pale with reddish crown and cheek patch, pale stripe over eye, black mustache stripe, and black spot in the center of the breast; immatures are similar to the adults but lack the reddish coloration in the crown and check

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: feed heavily on seeds, especially in winter and on insects in summer

Habitat: open country

Lark Sparrows prefer to forage on relatively open ground, making them easy to spot. They typically forage in small flocks and, unlike other songbirds, they walk rather than hop along the ground. When moving from one location to another, Lark Sparrows tend to fly higher than most other sparrows and can be heard making sharp calls as they pass overhead. While both sexes participate in choosing a nesting site, the female does all the nest building. However, she may choose to use an old mockingbird or thrasher nest instead of building a new one. The young mature quickly and leave the nest about 10 days after hatching.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Marion Stelts

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

Vesper Sparrow, Bay-winged Bunting

VESP (Pooecetes gramineus)

Family: Passerellidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 6.5 in (13 - 17 cm)
Flies: Mar 07 - Oct 21

Morphology: large, chunky sparrows that are brown overall with distinctive streaks; they have a thin white eyering, white outer tail feather, a pale check patch, and a chestnut patch on the should that is often hard to see

Status: native; locally common
Food source: feds on a wide variety of insects and seeds

Habitat: fields, pastures, farms
Typical location: The Stables

Vesper Sparrows are usually found on open ground but may mount an exposed perch to sing. They received their common name from naturalist John Burroughs who thought that their song sounded sweeter in the evening. These birds feed almost entirely on the ground, many times on bare soil. They can also often be seen taking dust-bathes in bare fields or dirt roads. Vesper Sparrows are quick to take advantage of changes in habitat, often being the first to move into abandoned cultivated areas that are returning to forest. Nesting sites are on the ground at the base of some tall vegetation or in a slight depression. Nestlings leave the nest 1 to 2 weeks after hatching. There may be up to 3 broods in a year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Lonny Holmes

non-breeding male

Photo: non-breeding male by molanic

female

Photo: female by Alison Sheehey

House Sparrow, English Sparrow

HOSP (Passer domesticus)

Family: Passeridae (Old World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 5 - 6.5 in (13 - 17 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: breeding males are brightly colored with gray crowns, white cheeks, black bibs, rusty necks, and black beaks; non-breeding males have more subdued colors including that on the neck — they also have a smaller black bib and a yellow rather than black beak; females are buffy-brown overall with gray-brown underparts and back stripes of buff, black, and brown

Status: introduced; common
Food source: mostly weed, grass, and waste seeds; some insects and scavenged food crumbs left by humans

Habitat: cities, towns, agricultural areas

House Sparrows are not related to New World sparrows. Rather they are native to Eurasia and northern Africa.They were introduced into Brooklyn, NY in 1851 and rapidly spread across all of North America except the far north. These birds are aggressive and can survive in areas inhospitable to other birds such as in cities, where they have greatly benefited from their association with humans. House Sparrows primarily forage by hopping on the ground, looking for seeds and other scraps. They will even take smashed insects off of parked cars and come to feeders. Nests are made from a variety of materials and are usually located in a cavity either natural or man-made. Young leave the nest 2 weeks after hatching. There are typically 2 to 3 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



breeding adult

Photo: breeding adult by Bob Walker

nonbreeding adult

Photo: nonbreeding adult by Jerry Oldenettel

immature

Photo: immature by Chris Mallory

European Starling, Common Starling

EUST (Sturnus vulgaris)

Family: Sturnidae (Starlings and Mynas)
Size: 7.5 - 8.2 in (19 - 21 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are glossy black overall with a purplish-green iridescence; breeding individuals have pale white spots on the back and a yellow bill, whereas nonbreeding birds have bright white spots all over and generally a black bill; immatures are dull grayish brown with a black bill

Status: introduced; locally common
Food source: quite varied diet, consisting of mostly insects, berries, and seeds with occasional worms and other invertebrates

Habitat: cities,suburban areas,farmlands,ranches
Typical location: The Stables

European Starlings were introduced to North American in 1890 and have spread to most of the continent. Their common name comes from that fact that in flight they look like to a small, four-pointed star. European Starlings are sociable birds, particularly outside of breeding season when they form large flocks. They mostly forage on the ground in open areas walking around with a characteristic swagger. These birds will nest in any kind of cavity whether natural or man-made. The nest, itself, is a mass of twigs, grass, leaves, etc. Starlings have two broods per year. The eggs hatch in about a week and half and the young leave the nest approximately 3 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult

Photo: adult by Stephen Shankland

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Canyon Wren, Dotted Wren

CANW (Catherpes mexicanus)

Family: Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Size: 5.5 - 6 in (14 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have brown body, white throat, bright rusty, barred tail, and long, thin bill curved downward; immatures are similar to adult but with less markings

Status: native; locally common
Food source: variety of insects including termites, ants, beetles, etc. and some spiders

Habitat: rocky canyons, cliffs, old stone buildings
Typical location: Falls Trail, White Rock Canyon

Canyon Wrens are hyperactive, most often seen scurrying around the rocks. Their long bills and flat heads enable them to reach deep into crevices to find food. In addition to foraging under rocks and in crevices, these birds will explore areas with very dense undergrowth for prey. Canyon Wrens do not appear to drink water but get what they need from insects. Males defend the nesting area by singing. Nests, usually in a hole or rock crevice, are filled with coarse items topped with a cup made of softer materials. Young leave the nest at about 15 days of age, but will remain with their parens for several more weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Wlliams

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adults

Photo: adults by ADJ82

Rock Wren

ROWR (Salpinctes obsoletus)

Family: Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Size: 5 - 6.5 in (13 - 17 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: small, pale gray and brown birds with faintly striped throats, long, barred tails, and long, thin bills

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly insects and spiders

Habitat: rock-strewn slopes, canyons cliffs

Rock Wrens usually forage on the ground, often probing in crevices among rocks. They are not known to drink water but get what moisture they need from their food. These birds can often be seen moving about and bouncing up and down on their short legs. Male Rock Wrens are incredible singers with a repertoire of a 100 or more songs learned from other birds. Nest sites are in sheltered areas such as under a rock ledge or a crevice in a building. There is often a walkway of small pebbles, bones, or other debris leading up to the nest cavity. The function of this “patio” is unknown.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

immature

Photo: immature by nsharp

Hermit Thrush, Swamp Angel

HETH (Catharus guttatus, Hylocichla aonalaschkae)

Family: Turdidae (Thrushes)
Size: 6.5 - 7.5 in (17 - 19 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are brown on the head and back with pale underparts, distinctive spots on the throat and breast, a reddish tail, and a thin white eyering; immatures are gray-brown above with spotting on back and wings

Status: native; locally common
Food source: feeds on insects, spiders, worms, and berries

Habitat: mixed forests, deciduous woodlands, thickets

Hermit Thrush are seen primarily during the spring and fall migration, but may also spend the summer in the area. These birds tend to migrate earlier in spring and later in fall than other thrushes. If surprised, a Hermit Thrush may stare at the onlooker while flicking its wings and moving its tail up and down. These thrush are attracted to water gardens where they hop around the shrubs nearby. They pick up food from the ground or off of the foliage in shrubs and trees. Nests in the west tend to be up in a conifer and made of a variety of plant materials including pine needles.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

male

Photo: male by Mouser Williams

male and female

Photo: male and female by J.N. Stuart

Mountain Bluebird

MOBL (Sialia currucoides)

Family: Turdidae (Thrushes)
Size: 7 in (18 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males are sky-blue on top and paler underneath with dark blue on wings and tail; females are mostly gray brown with pale blue in the wings and tail; immatures look like spotted females

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly feeds on insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, etc.; also eats berries, including mistletoe and juniper

Habitat: high mountain meadows, plains, grassy areas
Typical location: Bandelier Entrance Road, The Stables, Valle Grande

Mountain Bluebirds often forage by hovering a few feet over an open field and then dropping to the ground to pick up insects. Alternatively, they may perch on a low branch and dart out to catch prey. Nests consist of a loose cup built in a cavity or hallow. Mountain Bluebirds will use nesting boxes which provide a great opportunity to watch these birds raise their young.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Jerry Oldenettel

immature

Photo: immature by Patty Teague

Western Bluebird

WEBL (Sialia mexicana)

Family: Turdidae (Thrushes)
Size: 6 - 7 in (15 - 18 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: stocky birds with short tails; males are blue above with a rusty orange vest on the breast and upper back, blue throat, and white belly; females are gray with pale orange wash on the breast and bluish tint to the wings and tail, and white belly

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects (grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and ants) with some berries and fruits (mistletoe, juniper, and elderberry)

Habitat: open woodlands, pastures with old trees

Western Bluebirds are most visible in the local area during winter and spring. They can most often when they fly down from a perch to pluck up insects from the ground. They will also catch insects in mid-air and will actively look for them among foliage. During winter, small flocks of Western Bluebirds may be seen feeding on berries in trees. Males typically stake out a nesting territory before courting a female. The nest site is in a cavity such as a tree hollow, old woodpecker nest, birdhouse, or hole in a building. Western Bluebirds have suffered by competition with European Starlings and House Sparrows for nesting sites.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Greg Lasley

Olive-sided Flycatcher

OSFL (Contopus cooperi )

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 7.5 - 7.5 in (19 - 19 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 21

Morphology: both sexes are stocky with large heads and short tails and are olive-gray on the top fading to lighter gray on the sides, there is a distinctive white center on the breast that gives the appearance of a vest; immatures similar to adults but browner

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: feeds almost entirely on flying insects

Habitat: spruce and fir forests, usually near openings and ponds

Olive-sided Flycatchers have become less common in recent years, potentially due to loss of wintering habitat. They are most often observed sitting upright on a high perch such as the top branch of a tree or on a power line. These birds forage by watching on high, flying out to catch a passing insect, and then returning to their perch. Males defend a nesting territory by singing constantly in the spring. Nests are usually well hidden on a horizontal branch of a conifer. First flight for the young is at about 3 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

chicks in nest

Photo: chicks in nest by Jerry Oldenettel

Western Wood-Pewee

WEWP (Contopus sordidulus, Contopus richardsonii)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 6.5 - 6.5 in (17 - 17 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Sep 21

Morphology: medium-sized bird with a peaked crown that makes the head appear triangular; adults are grayish brown with a dark face, dark bill with some yellow at the base, pale wingbars, whitish underparts, and a bit of gray on the breast and sides; immatures are similar to adults but with buffy wingbar

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly flying insects: flies, wasps, bees, winged ants, and moths; occasionally eats a few berries

Habitat: open woodland, woodland edges

The Western Wood-Pewee is a flycatcher that is best known for its rough sounding whistle. It is very similar to the Eastern Wood-Pewee, but the two are considered to be different species. Western Wood-Pewees most often watch for an insect from an exposed tree perch and then make an aerial sortie to catch it, sometimes making a clacking noise with their bill. They will also take insects from foliage and tall grasses. Males typically sing at dawn and duck to defend a territory. Females build a flat, open nest in a tree that may look like a knot on a branch from below. Young take their first flight at about a little over 2 weeks after hatching.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Dave Yeamans

adult

Photo: adult by Jon McIntyre

adult on nest

Photo: adult on nest by Roy Pilcher

Dusky Flycatcher

DUFL (Empidonax oberholseri, Empidonax obscurus)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 5.3 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Sep 15

Morphology: both sexes are gray overall with lighter underparts, a yellowish wash across the chest, white eyerings, light-colored wingbars, and a slightly rounded crest that is not always visible; immatures are like adults but with broader wingbars and more yellow on the lower mandible

Status: native; locally common
Food source: small insects

Habitat: woodlands, mountain chaparral, open forests

Dusky Flycatchers are intermediate in size and shape between Hammond’s and Gray Flycatchers. They also prefer the middle elevations in the mountains. Dusky Flycatchers forage by perching in an exposed area and watching for prey. Insects are usually captured in the air but may be taken from on the ground or from off of foliage. These birds are often seen in pinyon-juniper forests but prefer to nest in mixed conifer. During courtship both members of a pair with hop around, fluttering wings. Nests are usually built in deciduous shrubs in a vertical fork among dense foliage. Young leave the nest at about 2 to 3 weeks if age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Mitch Chapman

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

Cordilleran Flycatcher

COFL (Empidonax occidentalis)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 5.5 - 6 in (14 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 21

Morphology: adults are olive above and yellowish below with two pale yellow wingbars and teardrop-shaped eyerings; immatures are similar to adults but with buffy-colored wingbars

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly insects and spiders

Habitat: mountain forests, wooded canyons

Cordilleran Flycaters usually forage high up among the braches of tall conifers but may perch lower in trees along streams. They will watch for insects and then fly out to catch them mid-air. However, they will also glean some prey directly from the foliage of trees and shrubs. Nest sites vary from the fork of small tree to a cleft in a vertical stream bank to a under a fallen tree. Nests may even be found in or under man-made structures. Nests are cup-shaped and made of moss, grass, and other plant fibers lined with hair and feathers. First flight occurs at about 2 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

immature

Photo: immature by Ricardo A. T.

Black Phoebe, Black Flycatcher

BLPH (Sayornis nigricans)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 6 - 7 in (15 - 18 cm)
Flies: Feb 15 - Sep 21

Morphology: adults are mostly dark gray on the upperparts with a gray chest, white belly, and black head that may show a slight peak on the crown; immatures are similar but with buffy-colored wingbars

Status: native; locally common
Food source: wide variety of insects including beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, bees, wasps, and caterpillars; occasionally will eat small fish

Habitat: shady areas in open woods near water
Typical location: Rio Grande

Black Phoebes can often be seen on a perch low over water, wagging their tails up and down. Once an insect is sighted, the bird will dart out to catch its prey mid-air or even to pluck it off the water surface. Phoebes will also hover while picking insects from foliage. They are territorial and often maintain an established territory year-round. A male will perform a song-flight display during courting and show the female a potential nesting site. The female will then build a nest made of mud, plastered to a protected spot such a cliff face, bridge support, or building wall. Young usually leave the nest at 2 to 3 weeks of age. There are typically 2 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

immature

Photo: immature by J.N. Stuart

Say's Phoebe

SAPH (Sayornis saya)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 7 - 8 in (18 - 20 cm)
Flies: Feb 15 - Nov 15

Morphology: adults are brownish gray above with a reddish-brown belly, blackish tail, a gray breast, a head feathers that is sometimes raised into a small peak; immatures are similar to adults but browner and may have a buffy wing bar

Status: native; locally common
Food source: feeds almost entirely on insects with some spiders and millipedes

Habitat: dry sunny areas, often near buildings

The Say’s Phoebe is most often seen prominently perched in low shrubs or on rocks. They typically catch insects by darting out and grabbing them in mid-air, picking them off of foliage, or scooping them up from the ground. They can also hover low over fields trying to spot prey. Like other phoebes, Say’s Phoebes have a habit of wagging their tails but, unlike other phoebes, they often live in very dry areas. Males defend a nesting territory by singing. Nests are cup-shaped and made of grass, weeds, and other materials but no mud like other phoebes. Placement of a nest can vary from on a rocky cliff to a man-made structure. Young leave the nest in about 2 weeks after hatching. There are typically 1 to 2 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult on nest

Photo: adult on nest by J.N. Stuart

Plumbeous Vireo

PLVI (Vireo plumbeus)

Family: Vireonidae (Vireos)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Oct 15

Morphology: adults have gray heads, backs, and flanks along with white spectacles, wingbars, and bellies; immatures are similar to adults

Status: native; common
Food source: eats insects during summer almost exclusively; in winter, includes some berries and small fruits

Habitat: coniferous forests, mixed forests

The Plumbeous Vireo is one of the three separate species created from the split of the Solitary Vireo, and is a common summer bird in the Rocky Mountain region. These birds forage in a deliberate manner in the upper reaches of trees, searching for insects among the leaves. Males sing throughout the day in order to defend a territory. During courtship, they fluff themselves up and sway from side to side while singing. Nests are located near the fork in a branch of a tree, often in an oak. Both parents incubate the eggs and tend the young which leave the nest at about 2 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

immature

Photo: immature by antoniolp

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay

WOSJ (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)

Family: Corvidae (Jays, Magpies, and Crows)
Size: 1 - 13 in (3 - 33 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are light blue and gray above with a a white throat, a gray breast, a partial blue band over the breast, and a long, pointed bill; chicks start out fully gray and get bluer as they get older

Status: native; common
Food source: diet varies with season from insects, spiders, and snails to seeds, acorns, nuts, and berries; may eat rodents, amphibians, eggs, and young birds of other species

Habitat: scrub oak, woodlands, chaparral

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are nonmigratory birds named for Samuel W. Woodhouse who wrote about his Southwest expeditions between 1849 and 1852. They are often found in urban areas where they will come to platform and suet feeders. Typically these birds forage on the ground or in trees and will bury seeds and nuts for later retrieval. Scrub-jays are very intelligent, remembering the location and rate of decay of over 200 food caches. They will also steal food from other birds. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays breed as isolated pairs. Eggs are laid in a thick-walled cup-nest and hatch in a little less than 3 weeks. The young leave the nest about 3 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by B.J. Stacey

nest

Photo: nest by Mike Leveille

American Crow

AMCR (Corvus brachyrhynchos, Corvus americanus)

Family: Corvidae (Jays, Magpies, and Crows)
Size: 17 - 21 in (43 - 53 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are entirely black including eyes, feathers are iridescent, tails are square-shaped, and wings are rounded; males are larger than females; immatures have blue eyes; note: crows are smaller in size and have thinner bills, sleeker feathers and a higher pitched voice than ravens

Status: native; common
Food source: omnivorous; insects, spiders, snails, earthworms, frogs, small snakes, shellfish, carrion, garbage, eggs, seeds, grain, berries, and fruit

Habitat: deciduous growth along waterways, orchards, mixed evergreen woods, suburban and urban areas

American Crows are common and widespread through the US having moved beyond farmlands into towns and cities. They are very intelligent and have survived several past extermination attempts. They are social, forming large community roosts in winter. A breeding pair may be helped by their offspring from previous seasons. Nests, a large basket of sticks and mud lined with soft materials, are built by both parents, usually in a crook of a large shrub or tree. Eggs are incubated, mostly by the female, for about 18 days. Both parents and sometimes “helpers” fed the chicks until they leave the nest in 4 to 5 weeks. Crows are susceptible to and may die from West Nile disease.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    

adult

Photo: adult by Marion L. Stelts

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

nest

Photo: nest by Hari Viswanathan

Common Raven, Northern Raven

CORA (Corvus corax)

Family: Corvidae (Jays, Magpies, and Crows)
Size: 21 - 27 in (53 - 69 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults entirely black including eyes, feathers are iridescent feathers, tails are wedge-shaped, and wings are pointed; immatures have blue eyes; note: ravens are larger in size and have thicker bills, shaggier feathers and a deeper voice than crows

Status: native; common
Food source: omnivorous; insects, rodents, lizards, frogs, eggs and young birds, carrion, and garbage

Habitat: coniferous forests, deserts and mountain areas

Common Ravens can be seen soaring in the skies everywhere in the local area. These birds are the largest of the passerines and are very intelligent with problem-solving and tool-using skills. In addition, they can mimic sound from their surroundings, including human speech. Immature ravens are very playful and can be observed doing things like sliding down snowbanks, apparently for fun. Ravens usually hunt in pairs in order to cooperate in flushing out prey. Nests which can be reused year after year are usually on a ledge or in a tall tree. Both parents help build the nest and feed the young which fledge about 5 to 6 weeks after hatching. Ravens are featured in the mythology of many Native American peoples.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    

adult Rocky Mountain variant

Photo: adult Rocky Mountain variant by Bob Walker

adult Rocky Mountain variant

Photo: adult Rocky Mountain variant by Mouser Williams

Steller's Jay

STJA (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Family: Corvidae (Jays, Magpies, and Crows)
Size: 12 - 13.5 in (30 - 34 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: large bird with rounded wings, crested head, long tail, dark blue body and black head; Rocky Mountain variant has white markings on the throat and above the eye

Status: native; common
Food source: seeds and nuts (especially in fall and winter), berries and fruits, insects (particularly in summer), and sometimes eggs, small rodents, and lizards

Habitat: pine and oak forests

Steller’s Jays are aggressive birds commonly found in Western conifer woods at low to moderate elevations. They can also be found in oak forests during the fall. Their staple food consists of conifer seeds and acorns which they often cache for later consumption. However, they are scavengers, often seen eating scraps in picnic areas and campgrounds. Steller’s Jays will visit feeders for sunflower seeds and peanuts. When not breeding, they typically live in flocks, often flying over an area in single-file. These birds are able to mimic the calls of other species, such as raptors, and can even imitate squirrels and household animals. Both sexes are very protective of their nest which consists of a ragged cup of weeds, etc., cemented together with mud. Incubation time is a little less than 3 weeks; age at first flight is not well known.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

small group of adults

Photo: small group of adults by Hari Viswanathan

Pinyon Jay

PIJA (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, Cyanocephalus cyanocephalus)

Family: Corvidae (Jays, Magpies, and Crows)
Size: 9 - 11 in (23 - 28 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are dull blue with white chin, short tail, and long bill; immatures are similar to adult but duller in color

Status: native; locally common
Food source: seeds (especially those from the pinyon pine), fruits, insects, and sometimes eggs

Habitat: ponderosa pine, pinyon-juniper, mixed pine oak forests
Typical location: White Rock

Spectacularly colorful and noisy flocks arrive in the summer. Pinyon Jays primarily forage on the ground but can clean out a bird feeder in no time. Flocks tend to follow the pinyon crop. They store the nuts in late summer and early fall by burying them in the ground for later retrieval. Social organization among these jays is complex with overall permanent flocks that can reach several hundred in size. The birds nest in colonies in cup-shaped nests found high up in juniper, oak, and pinyon trees. Incubation time is a little less than 3 weeks with the young leaving the nest about 3 weeks after that.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

adult

Photo: adult by Marshal Hedin

Clark's Nutcracker, Meat Bird

CLNU (Nucifraga columbiana)

Family: Corvidae (Jays, Magpies, and Crows)
Size: 12 - 13 in (30 - 33 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are ash gray overall with black wings, black tail with white on the sides, and black bill, legs, and feet; immatures look similar to parents but with bluer features

Status: native; common
Food source: diet primarily consists of pine seeds with the rest made up of other seeds, nuts, berries, insects, snails, and eggs

Habitat: stands of juniper and ponderosa pine

Clark’s Nutcrackers are fairly common in spring, summer, and fall, particularly in areas remote from human contact. However, they will fearlessly walk about in picnic grounds and parking lots looking for handouts. However, these birds are most talented at prying open pine cones to extract the seeds. They may temporarily store the seeds in a throat pouch until they can be added to a hidden cache for later consumption. These caches help support the birds during the breeding which can occur in late winter. Nests, located in a conifer on a horizontal branch, consist of a platform of twigs supporting a cup of grasses and bark strips. Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young once they have hatched. The nestling usually leave the nest about 18 to 21 days after hatching.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Mouser Williams

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

Brewer's Blackbird

BRBL (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Family: Icteridae (Blackbirds and Orioles)
Size: 8 - 10 in (20 - 25 cm)
Flies: Mar 15 - Nov 21

Morphology: males are glossy black overall with yellow eyes, a purple sheen on the head, and greenish iridescence on the body; females are shades of brown with dark eyes; immatures are similar to the females but lighter brown

Status: native; common
Food source: ostly insects and seeds with some berries

Habitat: riversides,meadows, fields, areas covered with brush, lawns
Typical location: Ashley Pond, The Stables

Brewer’s Blackbirds adapt well to habitats altered by humans and have expanded their range eastward in the US during the last hundred years. They can now be seen in suburban areas walking along the ground, scavenging for crumbs. They will also forage in farming areas, sometimes following behind machinery to catch insects that have been disturbed. In winter, they usually forage in large flocks. Brewer’s Blackbirds nest in colonies consisting of 20 to 30 pairs. Nests are of a bulky open cup design often with mud or dried manure added to the base. A colony may change the nesting site preference from year to year, using small bushes one year and tall trees the next.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Rebecca Shankland

nest

Photo: nest by Eugene Zelenko

Bullock's Oriole

BUOR (Icterus bullockii)

Family: Icteridae (Blackbirds and Orioles)
Size: 12 in (30 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 15

Morphology: adult males have orange and black plumage with a black throat patch and white wing bar; adult females are gray-brown with yellow breast pale yellow underparts, and olive crown; immatures look similar to adult females

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: insects, berries, and nectar

Habitat: parks, fields, open woodlands; especially attracted to cottonwoods

Bullock’s Orioles are beautiful migrants that spend their winters in the tropics. They are seen in this area mainly during spring but they actually spend the summer here. They are attracted to water gardens and will come to sugar-water and fruit feeders. These orioles rarely forage on the ground, preferring to search the foliage of trees and shrubs for insects. They build nests in deciduous trees that look like hanging pouches made of tightly woven plant fibers and grasses. Females incubate the eggs till hatching at about 11 days. Then both parents feed the young for about two weeks until they fledge.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



breeding adult

Photo: breeding adult by Jerry Oldenettel

non-breeding adult

Photo: non-breeding adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Eric Isley

Western Meadowlark

WEME (Sturnella neglecta)

Family: Icteridae (Blackbirds and Orioles)
Size: 8.5 - 11 in (22 - 28 cm)
Flies: Feb 21 - Oct 15

Morphology: both sexes have long bills, rounded, short wings, and a short, spiky tail; they have yellow underparts and patterned brown, black, and buff upper parts with dark and light brown stripes on the head; breeding birds have bright yellow breast with a distinctive black “V”; nonbreeding birds have light yellow breast and greatly faded “V”

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly insects and seed; the former especially in summer and the latter in winter

Habitat: open meadows, plains, prairies

Although the Western Meadowlark is very similar to the Eastern Meadowlark they have different songs and rarely interbreed despite having overlapping ranges in some areas. Western Meadowlarks forage on the ground, sometimes using their bills to probe in the soil. In winter, they usually forage in flocks. Males, who are more often heard rather than seen, sing to defend a nesting territory. One male usually has two mates at the same time. The females do most of the work related to the incubation and care of the young. Nests are on the ground and consist of a domed structure with a side entrance and trail leading up to it. Young leave the nest at about 12 days old but are tended by their parents for at least another two week.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

immature

Photo: immature by Greg Lasley

Northern Mockingbird

NOMO (Mimus polyglottos)

Family: Mimidae (Mockingbirds, Thrashers, and Allies)
Size: 9 - 11 in (23 - 28 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Sep 07

Morphology: adults are gray-brown overall and a bit paler on the breast and belly with two white bars on the wings and white outer tail feathers; immatures are similar with spotted breast

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: half insects and other arthropods; half berries and fruits

Habitat: residential areas, parks, farmlands, thickets, desert brush
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Northern Mockingbirds are known for mimicking the songs of other birds. They are heard all day long and often into the night during nesting season. These birds mostly walk on the ground to capture insects but will fly down from a low perch if an insect is spotted. Northern Mockingbirds are very aggressive in defending their territory, flashing white wing patches and even attacking house pets and people. Nests have a bulky foundation which the male builds and a soft lining which the female adds. Young leave the nest between 1 and 2 weeks of age but are not able to fly well for another week or so. There are typically 2 to 3 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

Sage Thrasher

SATH (Oreoscoptes montanus)

Family: Mimidae (Mockingbirds, Thrashers, and Allies)
Size: 8.5 in (22 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are drab gray above with black spots on the breast, fine brown streaks on the flanks, white outer tail feathers, white wingbars, and large yellow eyes

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: eats mostly insects and berries plus some spiders and cultivated fruits

Habitat: sagebrush plains, floors of rocky canyons, dense thickets

The Sage Trasher is the smallest thrasher and is rather elusive. It will often run on the ground rather than fly if disturbed. These birds also forage by running around on open ground near areas with low shrubs. They will also perch in low trees and bushes to eat berries and will come to gardens for food. During breeding season, males will sing incessantly to defend a territory. Nests are typically located in sagebrush or other low bushes such as chamisa. Although cowbirds will lay eggs in a thrasher nest, the thrashers parents will toss them out. There may be 2 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by David Yeamans

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Curve-billed Thrasher

CBTH (Toxostoma curvirostre, Harporhynchus curvirostris)

Family: Mimidae (Mockingbirds, Thrashers, and Allies)
Size: 9.5 - 11.5 in (24 - 29 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: Similar to adult, but with shorter, straighter bill, yellower eyes, and less obvious spots.

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects and their larvae, as well as spiders, snails, sowbugs, and prickly-pear and saguaro berries

Habitat: desert brush, cactus, sagebrush, town
Typical location: La Senda, Pajarito Acres

The Curve-billed Thrasher is fairly conspicuous due to its habit of dashing about in the open and loudly calling from the tops of small trees. The local area is at the northern edge of its range. These birds forage on the ground, tossing aside litter to find insects. They will also dig in the soil to find food. Curve-billed Thrashers will come to feeders in areas with cholla and sage. The cholla cactus is this bird’s top choice for a nesting site. If the nest is exposed to bright sun, the female will spend time shading the young. There are typically 2 broods and sometimes 3 per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Greg Lasley

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Canyon Towhee

CANT (Melozone fusca, Aimophila fuscus)

Family: Passerellidae (New World Sparrows and Allies)
Size: 8 - 10 in (20 - 25 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: large sparrows with long tails and chunky bodies; adults are plain brown overall but have rusty undertail feathers, buffy throats, and reddish crowns

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly seeds and insects with some berries and small fruits; young fed almost entirely on insects

Habitat: bushy and rocky hills in arid country

Canyon Towhees can be seen just about everywhere in the local area. They even favor hopping around inside a garage when the door has been left open. They will feed on the insects caught in a car grill and then will hide under the car when disturbed. They prefer to forage under things like logs and scratch in the dirt much less than towhee species do. Canyon Towhees may mate for life and a pair will stay together all year round in a permanent territory. Nests are of a bulky cup design and usually located in a small tree or dense shrub. The young may leave the nest before they can fly, climbing about in the bushes waiting to be fed. It is typical for there to be 2 to 3 broods in a year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Dave Yeamans

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

immature

Photo: immature by Frank Fogarty

Townsend's Solitaire

TOSO (Myadestes townsendi)

Family: Turdidae (Thrushes)
Size: 8 - 9 in (20 - 23 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are gray with prominent white eye rings, buffy wing patches, and white outer tail feathers; immatures are gray spotted with buff and white

Status: native; common
Food source: primarily insects, spiders, and other invertebrates in summer and berries ,such as those from juniper and mistletoe in winter

Habitat: open coniferous forests, edges, burns

Townsend’s Solitaires often sit all alone on an exposed perch for long periods. Their upright posture makes them appear long and slender. They are usually seen in winter when both sexes will defend patches of juniper. These birds typically forage by flying out to catch insects mid-air or by fluttering down to the ground to snatch up food. During breeding season, males will guard the area around the nest by singing either from a high perch on while in flight. Nests are located in a protected spot such as in a shallow depression in a slope or in a crevice. They are of an open-cup design but rather bulky and loosely made. Young probably leave the nest at about 2 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

male bathing

Photo: male bathing by Hari Viswanathan

American Robin, Robin

AMRO (Turdus migratorius)

Family: Turdidae (Thrushes)
Size: 9 - 11 in (23 - 28 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males are gray-brown with orange underparts and dark heads; females are similar but with paler colors; both sexes have long legs and tail

Status: native; common
Food source: insects, spiders, berries, earthworms, and snails depending on the time of year

Habitat: towns, gardens, open woodlands, coniferous forests in mountains, agricultural areas

American Robin are ubiquitous in the area, particularly during summer. This species is the largest North American thrush. Robins forage on the ground, running along or hopping and then pausing when they spot prey. Males will defend nesting grounds before the arrival of females. Females build a nest made of grasses and twigs worked into a foundation of mud. Nests are usually located on a horizontal branch of a tree or shrub. The mother typically lays four “robin’s egg blue” eggs that hatch in 12 to 14 days. The young fledge about 14 to 16 days later. American Robins usually have two broods per season but may have a third.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Selvi Viswanathan

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult at nest in the vertical iron pipe

Photo: adult at nest in the vertical iron pipe by JN Stuart

Ash-throated Flycatcher, Lower California Flycatcher

ATFL (Myiarchus cinerascens)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 8 in (20 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Aug 21

Morphology: males and females look similar; grayish brown overall, yellow belly, a white throat, two white wingbars, and cinnamon streaks on the primary feathers and underside of tail

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly insects including caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and flies; also eats some spiders, fruits, and berries

Habitat: deserts with cactus and mesquite thickets, dry woods, semi-arid country, canyon areas

Ash-throated Flycatchers are spread throughout the west, preferring arid areas. These birds seldom forage by taking insects mid-air. Rather they fly out from a perch and pick insects from foliage while hovering. Alternatively, they will perch in shrubs or cacti to feed on fruit. Flycatchers primarily build nests in holes in trees, most often natural cavities or old woodpecker holes. However, given that the trees in their preferred nesting area may be small, they will use other hollow places like pipes and posts. The nest consists of a mass of weeds and grass lined with soft material. Females incubate the eggs for about 15 days. The young fledge at about 2 weeks of age. There are often 2 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Western Kingbird, Arkansas Flycatcher

WEKI (Tyrannus verticalis)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 8 - 9 in (20 - 23 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 21

Morphology: gray-headed birds with straight bills, brown wings, yellow belly, white chest and throat, and black tails with white outer feathers

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: eats mostly insects but also spiders, millipedes, and some berries and fruits

Habitat: open country, ranches, roadsides, waterways with trees

Western Kingbirds are most often seen in open areas on prominent perches. They will fly out and snatch up an insect either in mid-air or from off the ground and then return to the same perch. They will also pursue flying insects for long distances. Males have an elaborate courtship display, soaring to about 60 feet (18 meters) in the air and then stopping abruptly and falling towards the ground. These birds have adapted well to civilization and will even build nests attached to utility poles near busy city streets. Western Kingbirds are very feisty and protect their nests by harassing much larger birds that come too close. The eggs are incubated for a little over 2 weeks. The young leave the nest approximately 3 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Joe Zarki

Cassin's Kingbird

CAKI (Tyrannus vociferans)

Family: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Size: 8 - 9 in (20 - 23 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Sep 07

Morphology: adults have dark grey faces with a white mustache and are gray on the head and chest, yellow on the belly and under the tail, and white on the tips of a dark tail

Status: native; locally common
Food source: eats a wide variety of insects along with some berries and fruits

Habitat: savannas, rangelands, pinyon-juniper woodlands
Typical location: Bandelier Entrance Road, Lower Ancho Canyon

The Cassin’s Kingbird is similar to the Western Kingbird but with darker plumage. In addition, in comparison to Westerns, they are generally found higher in the trees and are usually quieter. These birds tend to sit on a perch looking for insects, and then fly out to capture it mid-air. Alternatively, they will pick off insects from leaves or from the ground. Courtship includes a fast, zigzag dance with outstretched wings and high-pitched calls. This dance is performed several times over a number of days. Nests are located high up in a deciduous tree or pine and have a bulky cup shape. Adults will harass larger birds that come too close.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

immatures

Photo: immatures by Mouser Williams

Black-chinned Hummingbird, Alexander Hummingbird

BCHU (Archilochus alexandri, Trochilus alexandri)

Family: Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Size: 3.3 - 3.8 in (8 - 10 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Oct 15

Morphology: slender hummingbirds that are dull metallic green above and grayish white below with black mostly straight bills; males have a black throat with a thin, iridescent purple base; females have a pale throat and white tipped outer tail feather; immatures resemble females

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar and insects

Habitat: alpine meadows, woodlands, thickets, chaparral, orchards
Typical location: White Rock

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are seen in large numbers during the summer wherever hummingbird feeders and flowers are present. They will feed at flowers while hovering but will both hover and perch at feeders. They will fly out to catch small insects, pluck them from foliage, or even pick them out of spider webs. In colder weather, these hummingbirds may ingest as much as three times their body weight in nectar in a single day. Males perform a courtship display that consists of flying back and forth in a U-shaped arc. The nest is a compact cup of plant fibers held together with spider webs and camouflaged on the outside. The incorporation of the spider silk allows the nest to stretch, expanding as the nestlings grow.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    



male

Photo: male by Selvi Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Lee Bill

male and female

Photo: male and female by Deborah Halter

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

BTAH (Selasphorus platycercus, Trochilus platycercus)

Family: Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Size: 4 - 4.5 in (10 - 11 cm)
Flies: Mar 15 - Oct 21

Morphology: both sexes have slender bodies, long tails, iridescent green upper parts, greenish/buffy flanks, white chest, and a line down the belly; males have a magenta gorget; females and immatures have a pale eyering and green spots on their throats and cheeks

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly nectar and tiny insects; particularly attracted to red flowers

Habitat: pinyon-juniper, dry ponderosa pines, mixed fir forests, canyon vegetation
Typical location: Los Alamos, White Rock

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird has gotten its name from its tendency to spread out its tail feathers, flashing white tail tips. These birds can be seen in large numbers during the summer wherever hummingbird feeders and flowers are present. While they may perch at a feeder, they will usually feed while hovering, extending their long tongues to reach deep into the feeder or flower. They will also catch insects either by flying out to grab them or by plucking them off of foliage. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds will slow their metabolism and go into a state of torpor on cold nights. Nests are located in trees sheltered by an overhanging branch and are made of spider and plant materials covered with moss and bits of bark.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    



adult

Photo: adult by BJ Stacey

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

White-throated Swift

WTSW (Aeronautes saxatalis)

Family: Apodidae (Swifts)
Size: 6 - 7 in (15 - 18 cm)
Flies: Feb 15 - Oct 21

Morphology: noted for long, pointed, swept-back wings and long tails; adults have white throats, bellies, and rumps with black backs, wings, and tails; immatures are similar to adults but duller

Status: native; locally common
Food source: feed on a wide variety of flying insects, including flies, beetles, wasps, winged ants, etc.

Habitat: arid mountains or other rocky areas, near cliffs and canyons

White-throated Swifts are most often observed near cliffs and canyons where they may fly in small groups, chattering constantly. As a species they are one of the fastest flying birds. They forage in flight and often range widely, potentially foraging many miles from their nesting sites. Mating occurs in the air with the pair sometimes joining and then tumbling down for hundreds of feet. Nests are usually in a narrow crevice in a cliff or in a man-made structure such as a bridge, overpass, or building. The young are usually about 6 weeks old before they can fly.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

nest with young

Photo: nest with young by J.N. Stuart

Barn Swallow

BARS (Hirundo rustica)

Family: Hirundinidae (Swallows)
Size: 5.8 - 7.8 in (15 - 20 cm)
Flies: Mar 21 - Oct 07

Morphology: when perched adults appear cone-shaped with broad shoulders tapering to long, pointed wings; both sexes have a blue back, wings and tail with rufous to tawny underparts, a blue crown and face, and cinnamon-colored forehead and throat; the colors on males are more vivid than those on females

Status: native; locally common
Food source: primarily eats a wide variety of flying insects such as flies, beetles, winged ants, etc. as well as some other insects and a few spiders

Habitat: agricultural land, suburban areas, marshes, lake shores
Typical location: Ashley Pond, The Stables, White Rock Canyon

Barn Swallows are migratory birds breed in NorthAmerica and winter in Central and South America. The species is also common in Europe and Asia where they tend to have a white breast. They can most often be seen flying low over fields or water. Barn Swallows can execute quick turns and dives and most often catch and eat their prey in the air. Females prefer to mate with males that have a dark breast color and a very long, symmetrical tail. Both parents make numerous trips to collect collect mud to build a cup-shaped nest, typically near humans in manmade sites such as in barns or garages or under bridges or eaves. The parents may be assisted in caring for the new young by offspring from a previous brood. There can be up to two broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Greg Lasley

nest

Photo: nest by J.N. Stuart

Cliff Swallow

CLSW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota, Hirundo pyrrhonota)

Family: Hirundinidae (Swallows)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Sep 21

Morphology: adults have metallic, dark-blue backs, white underparts, orange rumps, red faces, and a white patch on the forehead; immatures look like messy adults with brown faces and dark breasts

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly eats insects and some spiders

Habitat: open country near buildings,lake shores,marshes
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Cliff Swallows generally feed on the wing. They forage in flocks, flying low over water or very high over other areas. However, they will feed on the ground in bad weather. These birds have increased in number over the last several hundred years and have shifted their nesting sites from being exclusively on the sides of cliffs to more often the sides of man-made structures such as barns and bridges. They nest in large colonies. Their jug-shaped nests are made of dried mud and have a small entrance on one side. Both sexes build the nest and may repair and reuse an old one. Females have been know to lay eggs in their own nests and then move one of the eggs to another female’s nest. Once the young leave the nest they congregate in large groups. Parents can recognize their own young in the group by voice.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Joanne Redwood

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

building a nest

Photo: building a nest by Bob Walker

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

NRWS (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Family: Hirundinidae (Swallows)
Size: 5 - 5.8 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Apr 21 - Sep 15

Morphology: long-bodied bird with a small head, square tail, and broad, pointed wings with small serration on the outermost wing feathers; adults are brown above fading towards white below; immatures are like adults

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: wide variety of flying insects

Habitat: riverbanks
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Northern Rough-winged Swallows tend to be solitary birds. Even during migration, they are usually seen singly or in very small groups, flying low over rivers and fields. These birds forage mostly in the air, catching insects on the wing. During courtship display, a male will fly after a female while spreading the white feathers under the base of his tail. Nest sites are usually a burrow in a steep dirt bank which may be as much as 6 feet (2 meters) deep. The nest can be found at the end of the burrow. Alternatively, these swallows will use other kinds of cavities including drainpipes and holes in the side of a building. Young leave the nest at about 3 weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Sam

female

Photo: female by
Kenneth Cole Schneider

immature

Photo: immature by Bob Walker

Violet-green Swallow

VGSW (Tachycineta thalassina)

Family: Hirundinidae (Swallows)
Size: 5 - 5.5 in (13 - 14 cm)
Flies: Mar 15 - Oct 01

Morphology: small, sleek birds with pointed wings and forked tails that in good light have greenish-bronze backs, violet rumps, and white on the belly that extends around to the rump; males have white cheek patches and green crowns; females have dusky cheeks and brownish crowns; immatures are grayish-brown

Status: native; common
Food source: feed on a variety of flying insects

Habitat: forests, wooded foothills, mountains, suburban areas

Violet-green Swallows are similar both in looks and behavior to Tree Swallows. Flocks can be seen flying high above mountain pine forests and canyons. They are often observed flying with other swallows or swifts. These birds forage in flight, catching insects mid-air. They will nest in isolated pairs or in small colonies. Nests are located in tree cavities, birdhouses, rock crevices, or even large cacti. Young leave the nest at about 3 1/2 weeks old but the parents will continue to feed them for some time after that.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

Brown Creeper, American Tree Creeper

BRCR (Certhia americana)

Family: Certhiidae (Creepers)
Size: 5 - 5.8 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are small and thin with streaked brown and buff coloring above, white underparts, buffy stripe over the eye, long spine-tipped tails, and slender curved beaks; Brown Creepers in Arizona and New Mexico are darker on the back than in other parts of North America

Status: native; common
Food source: wide variety of insects and spiders, especially eggs and pupae hidden in bark

Habitat: deciduous and mixed woodlands

Brown Creepers get their common name from their feeding behavior. They “creep” along tree trunks starting at the bottom and moving upward in a spiral looking for food on the bark surface and in crevices. When they reach the top, they will flutter down to the ground and begin all over. These birds will also come to feeders for suet and peanut butter. When threatened, they will freeze using their coloration as effective camouflage. Nests, consisting of a half-cup design, may often be partially hidden in a tree.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Selvi Viswanathan

nest with young

Photo: nest with young by Emma Wynn

Northern Flicker

NOFL (Colaptes auratus)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 12 in (30 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: two forms exist with different colored flight-feather shafts (yellow versus red); local adults have red flight-feather shafts, curved bills, stiff tails often used as a prop, brownish bodies with black spots and bars, gray heads, and white rump patches; males have a red mustache stripe; females lack the mustache

Status: native; common
Food source: insects, including ants, beetles, termites, and caterpillars; will eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts at times

Habitat: open country with trees, parks, residential areas

Northern Flickers are ubiquitous in the local area. They commonly forage by hopping on the ground but also climb trees searching for wood-boring, using their bills to dig the them out. Flickers have sticky, barbed tongues that extends 2 inches beyond their bill for reaching into holes and lapping up food. They will come to feeders for suet and peanut butter. These bird create their nests by chiseling into in dead or dying trees. The cavity nests are used year after year. Eggs are laid in the wood chips at the bottom of the nest. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the young. The young will stay with their parents for a while after they leave the nest.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

acorn hoard or granary tree

Photo: acorn hoard or granary tree by Johnath

Acorn Woodpecker

ACWO (Melanerpes formicivorus)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 8 - 9.5 in (20 - 24 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are brownish-black with white eyes and face; the red cap on males starts at the forehead, while the one on females has a black band between it and the face

Status: native; locally common
Food source: acorns, sap, fruit and insects

Habitat: open oak/oak-pine forest

Acorn Woodpeckers are most often described as having a clown-like appearance due their brightly covered red, black and white faces. Their flight pattern is distinctive in that they will flap their wings a few times and then drop a foot. As their name implies, acorns make up the majority of their diet. The birds drill numerous holes in dead trees, telephone poles, and wooden buildings to store acorns. Such caches can be used across generations and can be riddled with thousands of holes. In contrast to other woodpeckers, while these woodpeckers eat insects, they rarely dig into wood to find them. Acorn Woodpeckers have a complicated social structure. They live in communal groups consisting of several breeding males and females. The nest consists of a cavity in a tree. Both parents as well as helpers will take turns incubating the eggs. The eggs hatch in a little less than two weeks and fledge at about a month. Parents and helpers take care of the babies.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    

adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Lewis's Woodpecker

LEWO (Melanerpes lewis, Asyndesmus lewis)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 10.5 - 11.5 in (27 - 29 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults have oily green back and wings, dark red face, pink belly, and silver-gray collar; immatures are similar but without the red face and gray collar

Status: native; locally common
Food source: wide variety of insects, nuts, fruits, and berries; young fed on insects

Habitat: open pine-oak woodlands, cottonwood groves, ponderosa pine, scattered or logged forest
Typical location: Anthony's at the Delta near cottonwood trees

Lewis’s Woodpeckers, named for Merriweather Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition, are found exclusively in the west. They are rather scarce but can be seen in the area during the fall migration. While these birds climb trees like other woodpeckers, they mostly feed by catching insects mid-air. In addition, they store acorns and other nuts in crevices and guard them as a winter food supply. Pairs can mate for life and use the same cavity nest regularly. Both parents incubate the eggs which hatch in 12 to 16 days. While the young will leave the nest about 4 to 5 weeks after hatching, they will remain in the area with their parents for awhile longer.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by David Mitchell

female

Photo: female by Jerry Oldenettel

American Three-toed Woodpecker

ATTW (Picoides dorsalis)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 8.5 in (22 cm)
Flies: Mar 15 - Oct 07

Morphology: mostly black body with a white throat, breast, and belly; a black head with a white line running towards the beak and behind the eye; three toes (two pointing forward and one back); males have a yellow cap

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly eats insects including wood-boring beetle larvae and caterpillars; will also eat fruit and sap

Habitat: coniferous forests

The American Three-toed Woodpecker is often overlooked as it quiet and inconspicuous. It often perches motionlessly against a tree trunk for an extended period of time. These woodpeckers forage on conifers, in particular dead or dying trees. They will remove pieces of bark to find insects and may gradually remove all the bark from a dead tree. Nests consist of a cavity in a tree or something like a utility pole. Both sexes excavate a new cavity each year. Eggs are incubated for 12 to 14 days. The young leave the nest 3 to 4 weeks after hatching but may remain with the parents for another 4 to 8 weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Mouser Williams

male

Photo: male by Steve Wagner

female

Photo: female by Jerry Oldenettel

Downy Woodpecker

DOWO (Picoides pubescens, Dendrocopos pubescens)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 6 in (15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have black upper parts with white spots on the wings, black and white striped head, small beak, white belly, white stripe down the center of the back, and black spots on a white tail; males have a red patch on the back of the head

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly insects but will eat some seeds and berries

Habitat: woodlands, parks, gardens

The Downy Woodpecker appears to be a smaller version of the Hairy Woodpecker. However, the two species are not closely related and do not compete for food. These woodpeckers can be found throughout most of the United States with the exception of desert areas. Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpeckers in North America. Their small size allows them to forage on thin branches, picking at the bark surface. They can often be seen in trees climbing about and even hanging upside down. In addition, these birds will come to feeders for suet and sunflowers. Compared to other woodpeckers, their drumming is rather slow. In fall and winter, males and females feed in separate areas. Pairs come together in late winter attracted by each other’s drumming. Nests consist of a cavity in a dead tree or branch surrounded by fungus or lichen for camouflage.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Dmitry Mozzherin

female

Photo: female by J.N. Stuart

immature

Photo: immature by Mitch Chapman

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

LBWO (Picoides scalaris, Dendrocopos scalaris)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 7 in (18 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: primarily black and white with barred pattern on back and wings along with cream underparts; males have a red cap that extends from nape to mid-crown; females are black from nape to forehead; immatures of both sexes have red crown

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: variety of insects including beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, true bugs, and ants; eats some fruit and berries including cactus fruit

Habitat: arid areas with thickets and trees
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

The Ladder-backed Woodpecker was once called the Cactus Woodpecker. It most often seen in Texas and Mexico but its overall range includes the local area at its northern edge. These woodpeckers primarily forage in trees, shrubby growth, and tall weeds. Pairs will often forage together focusing on slightly different areas, e.g., trunk versus outer limbs. The Ladder-backed Woodpecker has a distinctive flight pattern: three rapid wing flaps followed by a quick glide with the wings tucked against the body. The nesting site is in a hole in a tree or other plant such as a yucca or even a man-made structure like a fence post. Both parents probably excavate the cavity. Incubation of the eggs is done by both parents and they also both feed the young once hatched.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

male

Photo: male by Mitch Chapman

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

Hairy Woodpecker

HAWO (Picoides villosus, Dendrocopos villosus)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 9 in (23 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have black upper parts with white spots on the wings, black head with prominent whit stripes, long beak, white belly, a white patch down the center of the back, and pure white tail feathers; males have a red patch on the back of the head

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly insects but will eat some seeds and berries; will also feed on sap from damaged trees

Habitat: deciduous forest

The Hairy Woodpecker appears to be a larger version of the Downy Woodpecker. However, the two species are not closely related and do not compete for food. Like other woodpeckers, they have a spongy pad between their bill and skull to protect their brains from the shock of tapping on trees and special feathers around their nostrils to keep out wood chips. A Hairy Woodpecker will tap at a tree truck or major branch, listening for sound differences indicating an insect tunnel. It will then dig away the wood and remove the insect with its long, barbed tongue. These birds are very beneficial, consuming large numbers of wood-boring insects including those in wooden house siding. Hairy Woodpeckers are rather shy but will come to suet feeders. Males and females tend to maintain separate territories but pair up in mid-winter, often with the mate from the previous year. Nests consist of an cavity in an aspen or dead conifer.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Selvi Viswanathan

immature

Photo: immature by J.N. Stuart

Red-naped Sapsucker

RNSA (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 8 in (20 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: birds are mottled black and white overall with a red cap, nape, and throat, a slight peak at the back of the head, a sharp pointed bill, and an elongated appearance due to how they cling vertically to trees; males have a solid red chin but females have a white patch on the chin; immatures have a brown cap and overall brown wash

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: includes insects, tree sap, berries, and fruit

Habitat: edges of coniferous forests, woodlands, gardens, groves of aspen
Typical location: Pajarito Ski Hill Parking Lot

Red-naped Sapsuckers are often seen during the spring and fall. They drill holes in trees in very neatly spaced rows, leaving the holes to fill up with sap and then returning periodically to drink what has oozed out. In addition, they will take insects from trees like other woodpeckers, including those insects that have become trapped in the sap. Nests are typically found in a tree cavity with the same tree being used several years in a row. These birds prefer trees with heartwood decay which makes it easier to excavate a nesting site. Parents teach the young how to suck sap and take care of them for up to 10 days after they leave the nest.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by BJ Stacey

Williamson's Sapsucker

WISA (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)

Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Size: 9.5 in (24 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males are black on the upperparts, head, breast, and tail with a yellow belly, red throat, white rump, white eyestripe and mustache, and a white stripe up the side; females are barred (white, brown, and black) on the upperparts, wings, flanks, tail, and part of the breast along with a brown head, white rump, and yellow belly; immature are like the adults except that males have white throats and nape while females do not have black on the breast

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: insects (particularly ants), sap, and fruit

Habitat: ponderosa pine, coniferous, mixed conifers

Male and female Williamson’s Sapsuckers look very different and were once considered to be two separate species with the females named the Black-breasted Woodpecker. Williamson’s Sapsuckers drill small, evenly spaced holes in tree bark in order to allow the sap to ooze out. They will return periodically to feed on the sap. In addition, they will eat a bit of the tree tissue and insects attracted to the sap. The nest site is a cavity in a tree, with one with a dead heartwood but live outer layer preferred. Males may dig new nesting cavities in the same tree year after year. Young leave the nest and the general area at about 3 to 4 weeks after hatching.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Mouser Williams

female

Photo: female by Judith Lopez Sikora

Red-breasted Nuthatch, Canada Nuthatch

RBNU (Sitta canadensis)

Family: Sittidae (Nuthatches)
Size: 4.5 - 4.8 in (11 - 12 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both males and females are blue-gray in color with rusty-colored undersides and a black stripe through the eye; males have a black cap; females have a gray cap with lighter colored undersides

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mainly insects and spiders in summer; seeds, often from conifers, in winter; young feed on insects

Habitat: coniferous forests primarily in mountainous areas

Red-breasted Nuthatches are quiet birds that prefer dense cover so that they are often missed. However, they can be attracted to feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut butter and suet. They can be seen in mixed-species flocks outside the breeding season. Like other nuthatches, these birds are gymnasts. They move rapidly up and down tree trunks and along the undersides of branches looking for food which they may then hoard in a larder. Nests consist of hollowed out cavities which the birds excavate themselves. They smear the entrance with pitch. It has been postulated that this is to deter other creatures. They avoid getting stuck themselves by flying straight into the hole. Incubation time for the eggs is about 12 days with the young leaving the nest 2 to 3 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by Bob Walker

common foraging position

Photo: common foraging position by Steven Mlodinow

female

Photo: female by Bob Walker

White-breasted Nuthatch

WBNU (Sitta carolinensis)

Family: Sittidae (Nuthatches)
Size: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males have solid back cap with bluish-gray back and wings, white face and white underparts that may have some chestnut color; females are duller than males with a paler cap

Status: native; common
Food source: variety of insects and seeds

Habitat: typically in mature deciduous forest but also in mixed conifer forests

White-breasted Nuthatches are common throughout the year in most of the US with several subspecies officially recognized. They are often seen at suet feeders or creeping along tree trunks with their heads down looking for insects in bark crevices. These nuthatches are typically seen singly or in pairs. However, in fall and winter, they will join small mixed-species flocks. Pairs may mate for life and remain in the same area all year round. Nests are built in a cavity from bark fibers, grasses and other materials. Eggs hatch in about two weeks and fledge anywhere from three to four weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   Featured    

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Cullen Hanks

adult

Photo: adult by Donna Pomeroy

Pygmy Nuthatch

PYNU (Sitta pygmaea)

Family: Sittidae (Nuthatches)
Size: 3.8 - 4.5 in (10 - 11 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males and females are similar with slate gray wings and back, a brown cap, and white to buff underparts

Status: native; common
Food source: primarily insects such as beetles and true bugs in summer; a variety of seeds in winter, especially pine seeds

Habitat: pine forests including ponderosa with undergrowth

Pygmy Nuthatches are very gregarious, often wandering in noisy flocks and roosting communally. They are also acrobatic, using their sharp claws to help them hop upside down while foraging on the outermost and highest tree branches. These birds are easily attracted to feeders by sunflower seeds, nuts and suet. They often use bark crevices as a place to hold food while breaking it up with their bills. Pygmy Nuthatches nest in cavities in conifers lined with soft materials. A nesting pair may have helpers, usually offspring from a previous year, that aid in defending the territory and raising the young. Eggs are incubated for a little over 2 weeks and the young fledge about 3 weeks later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Marion L. Stelts

Rock Pigeon, Rock Dove

ROPI (Columba livia)

Family: Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Size: 13.5 in (34 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: plump bird with small head and short legs; variable in color but most adults are bluish gray with two black bands on the wing, a black tipped tail, and an iridescent band around the throat

Status: introduced; common
Food source: feeds on waste grain and seeds of many grasses and other plants; in cities will eat bread crumbs, popcorn, and other available junk food

Habitat: parks, gardens, farmlands

The Rock Pigeon is most often known as the “common city pigeon”. It is originally native to Europe, North Africa, and India but now lives all over the world. It has been domesticated for a variety of purposes: raised for food, trained for racing and carrying messages, and used in research. In many places, though, wild birds frequent both residential and agricultural lands. These pigeons may mate for life. Nests can be found on sheltered cliff ledges or potential substitutes of window ledges or gutters. Young are fed “pigeon milk”, a regurgitated secretion from the crop of the parents. A pair of Rock Pigeons may raise up to 5 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

Band-tailed Pigeon

BTPI (Patagioenas fasciata, Columba fasciata)

Family: Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Size: 14 - 15 in (36 - 38 cm)
Flies: Feb 01 - Nov 07

Morphology: both sexes are gray (bluish above and purplish below) with a white crescent on the back of the neck, gray band on the tip of the tail, dark wingtips, and yellow bill and feet

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly nuts, seeds, and berries including juniper berries and spruce cones

Habitat: pine-oak woodlands

The Band-tailed Pigeon is the largest pigeon in North America and is a “forest pigeon”. These pigeons usually forage in flocks, even during breeding season. They will forage on the ground but unlike other pigeons, they will also feed up in trees. They are very agile being able to walk out on small branches and even hang upside down to reach berries. During early and late summer, these pigeons will gather at mineral springs to ingest salts. Unlike most birds, they are able to drink without lifting their heads. Band-tailed Pigeons may nest in a loose colony. Nests are usually high up in a tree and consists of a platform of sticks. Young are fed “pigeon milk”, a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated. There are usually 2 or even 3 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Dave Yeamans

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

Eurasian Collared-dove

EUCD (Streptopelia decaocto)

Family: Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Size: 13 - 14 in (33 - 36 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults and immatures look alike and have plump bodies with broad squared off tails; light brown to gray body with white patches on the tail and a narrow black crescent around the nape of the neck

Status: introduced; common
Food source: mostly seeds with some berries and insects

Habitat: small towns, agricultural areas

Eurasian Collared-Doves were accidentally introduced into the Bahamas in 1974. Since there they have expanded across most of the US and Mexico. It has been suggested that these birds have been able to exploit a niche made available by the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. When not breeding, Eurasian Collared-Doves usually forage in flocks on the ground but will come to feeders. These doves can most often be seen in prominent perches. Nests consist of a fragile platform of sticks and twigs. There are usually only one or two eggs. However, in some areas there are reports of up to six broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

adult

Photo: adult by CK Kelly

White-winged Dove

WWDO (Zenaida asiatica)

Family: Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Size: 12 in (30 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: plump, square-tailed birds with long bills; adults are brown overall with white stripes at the edge of the wings, white-tipped tails with black stripes, a black streak across each cheek, and blue skin around red eyes

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly seed from wild plants and cultivated grains; will also eat fruits and berries as well as nectar from large flowers

Habitat: open country with dense thickets of shrubs and low trees

The White-winged Dove, related to the Mourning Dove, is most common in the southwest, but its range is currently expanding across the US and into Canada. These birds are often seen at platform feeder, but mostly forage on the ground. They will also feed in trees, shrubs, and large cacti. In areas with giant saguaro cacti, these doves are important pollinators. Both members of a pair go through a courting ritual consisting of nodding and preening motions. The nest is a flimsy platform made of sticks placed in a tree, shrub, or cactus. Both parents feed the young “pigeon milk” which consists of a secretion from the lining of the parent’s crop. There are typically 2 to 3 broods per year.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

nest

Photo: nest by J.N. Stuart

Mourning Dove

MODO (Zenaida macroura, Zenaida carolinensis)

Family: Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Size: 12 in (30 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: plump-bodied bird with small head and long, pointed tail; adults are brown to buffy-tan overall with black spots on the wings and white tipped, black-bordered tail feathers

Status: native; common
Food source: feeds almost exclusively on seeds

Habitat: open fields, parks, lawns with many trees and shrubs

Ubiquitous. One of the most common birds in the county. When they take flight, the wings make a whistling noise.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Judith Lopez Sikora

immature

Photo: immature by Chick Keller

Cooper's Hawk

COHA (Accipiter cooperii)

Family: Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles)
Size: 14 - 21 in (36 - 53 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: looks like a Sharp-shinned hawk but larger; adults of both sexes are blue-gray above with reddish bars on the breast; females are larger than males; young birds are brown above, streaked with brown on the breast, and have yellow eyes

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly birds and mammals; occasionally reptiles and insects

Habitat: forests, especially those interrupted by clearings; currently entering more suburban and urban areas
Typical location: Bandelier

Cooper’s Hawks have short rounded wings, long tails and small hooked beaks. In flight, they have a long-necked appearance, often referred to as a “flying cross”. They typically use quick, consecutive wing beats and a short glide. They use stealth to capture prey either by swooping down from cover or by flying quickly through dense vegetation. Studies have shown that the later technique, while successful, can be dangerous resulting in broken chest bones. Prey is captured with the bird’s feet. Females build nests high up in trees usually on a foundation of a preexisting nest. The eggs are incubated for a little over a month. The young will climb around the nest tree at about four weeks of age. They will be able to fly soon thereafter, but will stay with their parents for another month.

Info   Photos  Range   Frequency   



Northern Goshawk

Photo: Richard Reynolds

adult

Photo: adult by scops

immature

Photo: immature by Marion L. Stelts

Northern Goshawk

NOGO (Accipiter gentilis)

Family: Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles)
Size: 20 - 26 in (51 - 66 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are dark slate gray above and paler underneath with a dark head and white stripe over the eye; females are larger than males; immatures are brown and streaky with dark tail bands and yellow eyes

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly birds and small mammals such as grouse and squirrels; also eats snakes and some insects

Habitat: forests (deciduous and coniferous) with intermediate to heavy canopy coverage, scrub, farmlands, woodland edges

The Northern Goshawk has a relatively short, broad wings, a long tail and a relatively large bill. It is an expert at the surprise attack and prefers to hunt by watching for prey perched quietly about half-way up a tree, often moving from one perch to another. When prey is spotted, the bird will put on an extra burst of speed, plunging through tangled branches in pursuit. Goshawks only vocalize during breeding and nesting season. When calling while perched, the birds often move their heads from side-to-side to throw the sound. Males provide food for the nesting females starting before the eggs are laid. Nests are built in a major fork up in a tree. They are often reused so that more material is added each year making the them quite large. Both parents will boldly defend the nest, diving and nipping at intruders including humans. Eggs hatch approximately 35 days after laying and the young fledge at 5 to 6 weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by David Yeamans

adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanthan

immature

Photo: immature by Marion L. Stelts

Sharp-shinned Hawk

SSHA (Accipiter striatus)

Family: Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles)
Size: 10 - 14 in (25 - 36 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are dark blue-gray to brown above with horizontal red-orange bars on the breast; females are larger than males; immatures are similar to the adults but with brown vertical streaks on the breast and yellow eyes

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly small birds such as sparrows; rarely will eat rodents, bats, squirrels, lizards, frogs, snakes, and large insects

Habitat: coniferous and deciduous woodlands with dense cover
Typical location: Barranca Canyon, Deer Trap Mesa

One of the smallest and most numerous of hawks, the Sharp-shinned Hawk lives in the local area year round but is most often seen when migrating populations pass overhead. It mostly hunts by perching inside foliage and waiting for smaller birds to come close. Then with a burst of speed, it will fly out and capture its prey. Sharp-shinned will target groups of smaller birds by lying in wait at backyard bird feeders. The nest is a platform of sticks lined with softer material and located in dense cover. Egg incubation time is 30 to 35 days. Females staying near the young for the first few weeks while the males bring food. The chicks will start to move around the nest tree at about 3 to 4 weeks of age and will be able to fly at 5 to 6 weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Gorden Karre

adult

Photo: adult by Dave Yeamans

immature

Photo: immature by Jerry Oldenettel

Zone-tailed Hawk

ZTHA (Buteo albonotatus)

Family: Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles)
Size: 18.5 - 21.5 in (47 - 55 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Oct 01

Morphology: adults are mostly black with light-colored bands on tail and wings; immatures are browner with white spotting

Status: native; locally common
Food source: lizards, mammals, birds, and some insects

Habitat: forested canyons, riverside woodlands, open deciduous forest

The Zone-tailed Hawk resembles the Turkey Vulture in plumage and has a similar flying style. The hawk uses this to its advantage by blending into groups of vultures as a way to potentially fool prey. In such a group, the hawks are the birds with the light tails bands, fully feathered head, and yellow feet. Like the vulture, the Zone-tailed Hawk circles while soaring. Once it spots it quarry, it will continue to circle, moving lower and off to one side until it is screened by some sort of cover. Then it will surprise the prey by making a direct attack. The Zone-tailed breeds in the local area which is at the northern edge of its migration range. Nests are typically in a somewhat isolated tall tree. It is made primarily of sticks and twigs and may be reused for many years. Eggs hatch in a little over a month and are able to fly in 6 to 7 weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Marion Stelts

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

immature

Photo: immature by J.N. Stuart

Red-tailed Hawk, Chickenhawk

RTHA (Buteo jamaicensis)

Family: Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles)
Size: 18 - 25 in (46 - 64 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: females larger than males; large amount of variability in overall color depending on subspecies and region (light, intermediate and dark); young birds have mottled white patches on back and brown tail

Status: native; common
Food source: small mammals (voles, rats, rabbits, and ground squirrels), birds, and reptiles (especially snakes)

Habitat: forests, open country, agricultural field and urban areas
Typical location: Los Alamos Airport

The Red-tailed Hawk is the common hawk in the area. It can be seen flying overhead with slow, measured wing beats or soaring upward doing slow turns. It often perches next to highways looking for prey. The birds mate in spring and build a nest made of sticks lined with soft materials. Nests are usually located high up in a tree or on a cliff ledge. However, they can also be found on high buildings or towers. The females lay from 1 to 5 eggs which hatch in about a month. The babies fledge at around 6 to 7 weeks old but will stay with their parents for a few weeks longer.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Hari Viswanathan

immature

Photo: immature by Mike Plagens

Turkey Vulture

TUVU (Cathartes aura)

Family: Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
Size: 25 - 32 in (64 - 81 cm)
Flies: Apr 07 - Oct 01

Morphology: adults are large birds with long tails and broad wings tipped with long “fingers”; both sexes are primarily dark brown on top and paler underneath with a featherless red head and pale bill; immatures have a gray naked head

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mostly carrion, preferring the recently dead; occasionally feeds on decaying vegetable matter or fish in ponds that are drying-up

Habitat: open areas such as roadsides, suburbs, farm fields, countryside
Typical location: Los Alamos Canyon, White Rock Canyon

Turkey Vultures lack vocal chords so they do not make a proper call or song. Rather they make a low, guttural hiss when irritated. They also make a whining sound when in flight. They can soar overhead for hours, searching for carcasses. They have a particularly keen sense of smell so they are able to locate carrion by odor. Like other carrion-eating birds, Turkey Vultures are protected from disease by a very active immune system. Nests are located in sheltered areas such hollow trees or in crevices in cliffs. There is little or no nesting building with eggs laid on the bottom of the nest site. When disturbed young will defend themselves in the nest by hissing and regurgitating. Their first flight is in about 9 to 10 weeks after hatching.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

immature

Photo: immature by NMH Citizen Science Program

Peregrine Falcon

PEFA (Falco peregrinus)

Family: Falconidae (Caracaras and Falcons)
Size: 15 - 21 in (38 - 53 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are dark blue-gray above with horizontal bars on underparts and a dark head; females are larger than males; immatures similar to adults but with vertical streaks on the breast

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly birds such as pigeons and ducks; occasionally eats bats

Habitat: open country,especially along rivers and near lakes; has moved into urban areas

The Peregrine Falcon is one of the world’s fastest birds. Peregrines are often seen flying in the wild in canyons. While hunting these birds soar very high and then precipitously dive at speeds over 200 mph (320 km/h) to capture their prey mid-air. Larger birds are knocked out of the sky and then eaten on the ground where they fall. Peregrines have several special adaptations that allow them to survive the pressure of these spectacular dives. They have long been a favorite of falconers due both to this athleticism and the ease with which they can be trained. Peregrines were once on the decline due to the effect of pesticides but are currently making a comeback. Nests are usually found on a cliff lee. However, sometimes they are seen in a tree, on the ground on a hilltop, or on man-made structures. Females incubate the eggs for about a month while the male feds the female. The young are able to fly at 6 to 7 weeks.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

male

Photo: male by J.N. Stuart

female

Photo: female by J.N. Stuart

American Kestrel

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

American Kestrel

AMKE (Falco sparverius)

Family: Falconidae (Caracaras and Falcons)
Size: 9 - 12 in (23 - 30 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males have blue-grey wings, white undersides, and rufous back; females have rufous backs and wings with brown bars and cream undersides; young are similar in plumage to adults

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly large insects, in particular grasshoppers, but also some small mammals, bird and lizards

Habitat: towns, parks, farmlands, any kind of open or semi-open situation

The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America and the most common. It is leaner and more muscular than larger falcons with long, narrow wings that taper to a point. Given their small size, kestrels are often used in falconry, particularly by beginners. Kestrels primarily hunt from a perching position where they scan the ground for prey. They are commonly seen perched on wires and other high places along the roadside. However, they may hover over a field when a good perch is not available. The birds builds nests fairly high above the ground in cavities in trees, cliffs, buildings, and other structures. Both sexes help to incubate the eggs which hatch in about one month. The young fledge about a month later.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Thomas Shankland

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

nest with young

Photo: nest with young by Jerry Oldenettel

Great Horned Owl, Hoot Owl

GHOW (Bubo virginianus)

Family: Strigidae (Owls)
Size: 25 in (64 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are mottled gray-brown with a reddish face, white patch on the throat, and two prominent feathered tufts on the head; birds in the Southwest are paler and grayer than elsewhere

Status: native; common
Food source: mostly eats mammals (rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, etc.) and birds ranging in size from kinglets to herons; will also eat snakes and lizards

Habitat: wooded areas with fields or other open areas

The Great Horned Owl is a large bird that is aggressive and powerful, earning it the nickname of “Tiger Owl”. These birds have extremely good hearing and vision. They hunt mostly at dusk and after dark. They will watch from a high perch and then swoop down capturing prey in their talons. During northern winters, they may let uneaten prey freeze, only to come back later and thaw it out using their own body heat. Nesting may begin as early as late winter in some areas. This potentially allows the young to have enough time to learn hunting skills before the next winter. Nests are often those of other large birds with the addition of a few new feathers. The young will leave the nest at about 5 weeks old but cannot fly until 9 to 10 weeks of age. The parents may continue to fed the young for several months more.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Gordon Karre

adult

Photo: adult by Selvi Viswanathan

back and front of head

Photo: back and front of head by Mouser Williams

Northern Pygmy-Owl, Mountain Pygmy-Owl

NOPO (Glaucidium gnoma)

Family: Strigidae (Owls)
Size: 6.3 - 7.1 in (16 - 18 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are brown overall with fine white spots on head and back and white stripes on tail; they lack ear tufts but have two dark patches on the back of the neck that look like eyespots

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: will eat rodents, birds, insects and lizards; prefers songbirds

Habitat: open coniferous and mixed forests, open fields, and wetlands
Typical location: Bandelier, Upper Canyons

Northern Pygmy-Owls are very small and are often active during the day. They will wait quietly to spot their prey and then fly fast and low to grab their target. They can carry more than twice their own weight. These birds are aggressive and catch more birds than most small owls. In defense, gangs of songbirds, in particular chickadees, will often gather to “mob” a Northern Pygmy-Owl. During courtship, pairs will rapidly chase each other near potential nesting sites. They nest in tree cavities, often using old woodpecker holes and defend large territories during breeding season.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

Western Screech-Owl

Photo: Corry Clinton

Western Screech-Owl

Photo: Shravans14

Western Screech-Owl

Photo: Sally King, NPS

Western Screech-Owl

WESO (Megascops kennicottii)

Family: Strigidae (Owls)
Size: 7 - 10 in (18 - 25 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes, and yellowish bill; there are several morphs that range in color from brown to dark gray with streaked underparts; females are larger than males

Status: native; common
Food source: small mammals and large insects

Habitat: wooded canyons, desert scrubland and farm groves

The Western Screech Owl is a small, inconspicuous but fairly common owl found in many different habitats throughout the western US. Its call is not actually a screech, but more a series of short hoots at increasing tempo. Like other owls, it forages at night, hunting mostly from a perch from which it swoops down to take prey. It locates prey by both sight and sound. Western Screech Owls nest in a cavity in a tree or pole, often in an old woodpecker hole. The top photo was taken of an owl that was rescued after finding its way down a chimney. The female incubates the eggs for a little less than a month and the young fledge at about 4 weeks of age. However, both parents will take care of the young for awhile longer.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

adult

Photo: adult by Gavin Schaefer

adult

Photo: adult by Greg Lasley

Common Nighthawk

CONI (Chordeiles minor)

Family: Caprimulgidae (Nightjars)
Size: 10 in (25 cm)
Flies: May 01 - Sep 15

Morphology: adults are mottled gray, white, buff, and black; they have long, dark wings that have a white blaze and a v-shaped white throat patch

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mainly flying insects, will feed heavily on winged ants and termites

Habitat: open woodlands,clearings,fields,towns

The Common Nighthawk has large eyes and a short neck making it look like it has an oversized head. The coloring on this bird serves to camouflage it well. Common Nighthawks have a distinctive erratic flight pattern. They will hunt for flying insects by day as well as at night, often around bright lights. They are voracious eaters and have been noted to consume up to 500 mosquitoes in a single day. Males have a specific courtship display flight accompanied by a “booming” sound created by the rushing of air through wing feathers when they dive. Eggs are usually laid on the ground without a nest being build. Gravel roofs are also a favored place to lay eggs.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

adult

Photo: adult by l0000_hz_legend

adult

Photo: adult by Ken-ichi Ueda

Common Poorwill, Colorado Desert

COPO (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)

Family: Caprimulgidae (Nightjars)
Size: 7 - 8 in (18 - 20 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Oct 21

Morphology: adults and immatures have a plump bodies in shades of brown, black and gray with large heads, tiny bills, small feet, short wings, rounded tails, and a white band across the throat

Status: native; locally common
Food source: mainly night-flying insects; in particular moths and beetles

Habitat: desert, chaparral, sagebrush, other uplands

Common Poorwills primarily forage by sitting on or near the ground and then making a short flight upward to catch an insect as it flies by. Their large mouths allow them to capture insects up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long. They mostly forage at dawn or dusk. These birds have been observed hibernating in a torpid condition during long, cold periods. This behavior is unique among birds. Males call on spring nights to attract a mate and to defend a territory. Poorwills do not build nests but rather lay eggs on the ground, often sheltered by an overhanging shrub or rock. The young can move on their own fairly quickly by hopping around on the ground by the nest.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Stephen Shankland

adult

Photo: adult by George Caleff

adult displaying

Photo: adult displaying by Marion L. Stelts

Greater Roadrunner, Chapparal Cock

GRRO (Geococcyx californianus)

Family: Cuculidae (Cuckoos and Roadrunners)
Size: 24 in (61 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes are tan with black streaks and long legs, tails, and necks; they have down-curved bills, a short crest on the head, and a patch of bare, blue skin behind each eye

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: insects, reptiles, rodents, and birds

Habitat: open arid country with scattered thickets
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Fairly common in around the canyon rim. They are often present near feeders not to eat the seed but to ambush other birds.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

chicks

Photo: chicks by Andy Bridges

Scaled Quail, Cotton Tops, Blue Quail

SCQU (Callipepla squamata, Quaglia azzurra)

Family: Odontophoridae (Grouse, Quail, and Allies)
Size: 10 - 12 in (25 - 30 cm)
Flies: Mar 21 - Oct 07

Morphology: adults are pale gray overall with a white crest and a scaled pattern over the neck, chest, and belly; immatures are similar to the adults but initially without the scaling

Status: native; locally common
Food source: feed mostly on seeds and insects but will also eat some leaves and berries

Habitat: dried grasslands, desert brush
Typical location: White Rock

Scaled Quails forage in groups throughout most of the year but in pairs or singly during the early part of the breeding season. They usually roost at night in groups of two or more arranged in a circle tail-to-tail on the ground in dense low growth. They prefer to run from danger rather than fly. Males defend a breeding territory by sitting on a perch and making a hoarse single-noted call. Nests are build on the ground in a shallow depression and lined with grass and leaves. Young leave the nest soon after hatching. Males will guard the young from a perch while the young feed on the ground with their mother.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male, displaying

Photo: male, displaying by Hari Viswanathan

male, not displaying

Photo: male, not displaying by Hari Viswanathan

female

Photo: female by Mouser Williams

Dusky Grouse

DUGR (Dendragapus obscurus)

Family: Phasianidae (Grouse, Quail, and Allies)
Size: 15.5 - 21 in (39 - 53 cm)
Flies: Apr 01 - Aug 21

Morphology: males are dusky gray with black tail tipped with gray, bare skin on the side of the neck colored red, and a yellow eyebrow; females are brownish gray with barred upper parts; immature are similar to females but with streaked back

Status: native; locally common
Food source: conifer needles, particularly in winter; leaves, flowers, buds, berries and insects in summer; young mostly eat insects

Habitat: montane forests, slashes, subalpine clearings
Typical location: Pajarito Mountain

Dusky Grouse are shy, slow-moving, and well camouflaged birds. These birds generally feed on the ground in summer and forage in trees in winter. Dusky Grouse are most often noticed during breeding season. Males strut around with tails raised and red neck patches revealed making a series of deep hoots to attract females. After mating, females go off on their own to built a nest on the ground, usually under some cover. Young usually leave the nest within a day of hatching and follow the female around to find their own food. They start to fly when a little over a week of age.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



male

Photo: male by Hari Viswanathan

female with duckling

Photo: female with duckling by Josip Loncaric

female and male

Photo: female and male by Kevin Arceneaux

Mallard

MALL (Anas platyrhynchos)

Family: Anatidae (Ducks and Geese)
Size: 18 - 27 in (46 - 69 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: males have a brown breast, black back, iridescent green head, and yellow bill; females and immatures are mottled brown with brown to orange bills; both sexes have blue patch in the wing

Status: native; locally common
Food source: eats mainly plant material including seeds, stems, and roots along with insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish; ducklings mostly eat aquatic insects

Habitat: marshy areas
Typical location: Bandelier Sewage Lagoons, Rio Grande

The Mallard is the most well known of wild ducks and the ancestor of most strains of domesticated ducks. Mallards are dabbling ducks, meaning that they usually feed either on the surface of shallow water or tip headfirst into the water to find aquatic vegetation and insects. Pairs form in fall and winter and seek a nesting site together. The nest, consisting of plant material lined with down, may be some distance from water but is usually on the ground concealed by vegetation. Young leave the nest within day of hatching and are able swim and feed themselves immediately.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Akkana Peck

adult

Photo: adult by Bob Walker

gosling

Photo: gosling by J.N. Stuart

Canada Goose

CANG (Branta canadensis)

Family: Anatidae (Ducks and Geese)
Size: 35 - 45 in (89 - 114 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: both sexes have a black head with white cheeks and chinstrap, black neck, tan breast, and brown back

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: feeds on a wide variety of plants including aquatic plants; eats seeds and berries along with some insects and small fish

Habitat: lakes, bays, rivers, marshes, open grassy areas
Typical location: Rio Grande

Canada Geese are known for their V-shaped migrating flocks and can be seen flying overheard. There are several subspecies that vary in size and calls. They mostly forage in flocks, grazing while walking on land but will also feed in water, sometimes up-ending but usually only submerging head and neck. They have adapted well to being around man, favoring the areas around park ponds and golf courses. This had caused them to be a nuisance in some areas. Canada Geese may mate for life. The female choses the site, usually on slightly elevated dry ground near water, while the male defends the territory. The nest consists of a shallow bowl lined with sticks, etc. in a slight depression. Young are lead away from the nest a day or so after hatching. They feed themselves from then on but are tended by both parents until first flight, usually at 7 to 9 weeks of age.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

adult

Photo: adult by Mike Baird

adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

immature

Photo: immature by Joanne Redwood

Virginia Rail

VIRA (Rallus limicola)

Family: Raillidae (Cranes and Rails)
Size: 9 - 11 in (23 - 28 cm)
Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Morphology: adults are rusty colored overall with a a gray face, long red bill, upturned tail, black-and-white barring on the sides, and red legs; immatures are covered in black down

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: eats mostly insects (often aquatic insects and their larvae), crayfish, snails and some seeds

Habitat: freshwater and brackish marshes
Typical location: Pajarito Wetlands closed to the public

Virginia Rails are shy, being heard more often than seen. They prefer to run, even through dense vegetation, rather than fly. These birds forage by probing the mud or shallow water for small creatures or by picking them up off the ground or from plants. Courtship consist of the male running back and forth with wings raised in front the female followed by the pair bowing to each other. Nests are usually placed in a wet area over very shallow water. They consist of a platform made up of cattails, reeds, and grasses usually with a canopy of living plants over top. The young leave the nest soon after hatching. Chicks are able to feed themselves at 2 to 3 weeks of age and are able to fly around soon thereafter.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   



adult

Photo: adult by Mouser Williams

adult defending territory

Photo: adult defending territory by Bob Walker

nest with eggs

Photo: nest with eggs by J.N. Stuart

Killdeer

KILL (Charadrius vociferus, Aegialitis vocifera)

Family: Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
Size: 9 - 11 in (23 - 28 cm)
Flies: Feb 15 - Jul 01 and Aug 07 - Oct 07
Morphology: adults are slender with long tails and wings; body is brown on top and white below with two black bands on the chest and black and white patches on the face; orange rump visible when in flight; immatures have a single breast band

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: mostly insects with some spiders, earthworms, crayfish, and snails

Habitat: open country short grass,shoreline

Though technically a shorebird, Killdeer can often be found in pastures and fields far from water. When foraging, they will typically run a few steps, pause, and then run again only to stop and peck at the ground when they see something to eat. Nests are typically on the ground out in the open and usually have no nesting material. Down-covered young leave the nest soon after hatching. They feed themselves but are tended by both parents for several more weeks. The parents rely on distraction displays to protect their young. Killdeer have a “broken wing display” technique that they use to distract predators while leading the threat away from their offspring.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency   

breeding adult

Photo: breeding adult by Rozelle Wright

breeding male

Photo: breeding male by Bob Walker

non-breeding adult

Photo: non-breeding adult by J.N. Stuart

Spotted Sandpiper

SPSA (Actitis macularius)

Family: Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Phalaropes, and Allies)
Size: 7.5 - 7.5 in (19 - 19 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - Sep 15

Morphology: medium-sized bird with a tapered body, long tail, rounded breast, and a white stripe along the wing visible in flight; breeding adults have dark spots on a white breast and an orange bill; non-breeding adults have a plain white breast and pale yellow bill; females are slightly larger than males

Status: native; locally common
Food source: variety of insects, worms, crabs, crayfish, mollusks, and small fish

Habitat: waterways
Typical location: Ashley Pond, Rio Grande

The Spotted Sandpiper is the most widespread sandpiper in North America but seldom seen in flocks. They are usually seen feeding on the edges of ponds and streams. Spotted Sandpipers have a distinctive walk sometimes called “teeter tail” — constantly bobbing the body up and down. Birds teeter faster when alarmed, angry, or courting. Females may sequentially mate with up to five males during a single breeding season. After mating, they will lay eggs and leave each male to incubate and raise the their young. Chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are capable of feeding themselves. They will teeter just like the male parent who is tending them. First flight is around three weeks of age.

Info   Photos  Distribution   Frequency