New Mexico Birds: Pictures And Bird Identification Tips

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picture of a Roadrunner, the state bird of New Mexico, and part of the New Mexico birds series

Follow the Rio Grande river north to south to discover the treat known as New Mexico birds.

While Texas and California are often touted as the fashionable birding hot spots of the United States, the five hundred and fifty species on the New Mexico birds checklist makes the state an under appreciated birding jewel.

New Mexico birding fun begins with the Roadrunner, the official bird of New Mexico. A larger than average bird with a long tail. They are year round residents of the Southwest. Often they are easy to spot as they walk around foraging for food such as small reptiles, eggs, plants, or whatever might be in their territory. They are ground nesters that live in dense shrubby areas.

picture of a Black-headed Grosbeak
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains mark the southern end of the Rocky Mountain chain, and the Sangre de Cristo Audubon society represents the northern New Mexico birders. They often suggest using Santa Fe, Taos or Los Alamos as birding gateways to the north.

Resident birders boast of never straying from their yards and seeing seventy different species. Grosbeaks, including Black-headed, Rose-breasted and Blue are often seen at back yard feeders, although the Audubon society reports that a changing climate is creating problems for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks because they are use to migrating when their food source, insects are in full flight. A changing climate means that the birds’ typical migratory pattern is now out of sync with insect population patterns.

picture of a Pyrrhuloxia
In the southern deserts, Easterners who bird New Mexico might be a bit confused the first time they cross paths with an odd looking Cardinal. It’s actually a Pyrrhuloxia, the desert cardinal.

The Gila River in southwest New Mexico also provides the water necessary for good birding opportunities. From the mountains in the upper western section to the Chihuahuan desert in the south, there’s an opportunity to see close to three hundred different bird species. The milder climate means a bird bonanza during the winter season. Birders have reported the presence of about one hundred species during the annual Christmas bird count.

The categories are loosely organized to insure that all the backyard birds and most of the common wild birds are included. Choose a category and begin the adventure. The specific topic button on the left leads to information suited to answering basic bird identification questions.