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.

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Showing 3 of 176 birds.
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

Photo: female by J.N. Stuart

family

Photo: family by Hari Viswanathan

Gambel's Quail

GAQU (Callipepla gambelii)

Family: Odeontophoridae (Grouse, Quail, and Allies)
Size: 10 - 11.5 in (25 - 29 cm)
Flies: Apr 15 - May 15

Morphology: adults are patterned in colors of gray, chestnut, and cream with a comma-shaped topknot; males have a fuller topknot than females and are more richly patterned including a rufous crest, chestnut flanks, and creamy belly; females are less colorful, more gray, and lack any head pattern

Status: native; rare
Food source: mostly seeds, leaves, and berries as well as plant shoots and buds

Habitat: desert thickets, dry grassy areas, agricultural fields
Typical location: White Rock

Gambel’s Quail primarily feed on the ground in a small flock known as a covey. They will also go up into shrubs and low trees for berries and other plant materials. They may be seen walking to a stream in the morning and evening. At night, coveys roost in low bushes and trees. Nests are usually on the ground in a shallow depression lined with grass and leaves. Young leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching and can feed themselves once led to a food source.

Tracks   Info   Photos  Range   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