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

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Institute for Bird Populations
National Audubon Society
New Mexico Ornithology Society
What Bird

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


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 1 of 176 birds.

Photo: male by Gowri Srinivasan


Photo: female by ADJ82


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.

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