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17 Beautiful Birds of New Mexico


List of Birds in New Mexico

  • Greater Roadrunner
  • House Finch
  • Mourning Dove
  • American Robin
  • Northern Flicker
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Blue Jay
  • American Goldfinch
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Western Bluebird
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Yellow-eyed Junco
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Red-faced Warbler
  • Rufous-capped Warbler
  • Scaled Quail
  • Spotted Owl

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

The greater roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico. Greater Roadrunners are large cuckoos with a distinct shape that includes long legs, a long, straight tail, and a long neck. The bill is long, heavy, and slightly downcurved, with a short crest on the head.

They are tan or brown in color, with blackish streaking on the upperparts and chest. They have a patch of bare, blue skin behind the eye and a black crown with small, pale spots. The wings are dark in color with white highlights.

Greater Roadrunners spend the majority of their time hunting lizards, small mammals, and birds on the ground. They are extremely fast runners, leaning over parallel to the ground and trailing their tails behind them.

House Finch

House Finch

House Finch is a small finch with red head native to the western part of the United States, southwestern Canada, and Mexico.

Following the deliberate release of cage birds in New York in 1939, the species has expanded to connect with western populations, which are also in an expansionary phase.

Much appreciated by canariculturists because of how easy it is to breed in captivity, it has been the subject of massive catches in its original distribution area.

For this reason and due to the commercial interest it has acquired, the species has been taken to many countries in Europe and the rest of the world.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

It has a plump body and a long tail, with short legs, a small bill, and a head that appears particularly small compared to the body.

The long, pointed tail distinguishes it from other North American pigeons.
Mourning doves are typically found in open country. They have a delicate brown to tan beige coloration on the outside, with black spots on the wings and white tips with black edges on the tail feathers.

Mourning doves fly fast with powerful wingbeats, sometimes making sudden ascents, descents, and dodges, their pointed tails spreading out behind them.

American Robin

American Robin

The American robin is a large songbird with a large round body, long legs, and a long tail. Robins are the largest thrushes in North America, and their profile offers a good opportunity to learn the basic shape of most thrushes.

Robins are also a good benchmark for comparing the size and shape of other birds. American robins are grayish-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the underside of the belly and under the tail can be conspicuous.

Compared to males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray back.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Flickers are fairly large woodpeckers with a thin, rounded head, a slightly downward curved bill, and a long, flared tail that tapers to a point.

Blinks generally appear brown in color with a white spot on the rump that is conspicuous in flight and often visible when perched.

The underside of the wing and tail feathers is bright yellow for eastern birds or red for western birds. With a closer look, you will see that the brown plumage is richly patterned with black spots, bars, and crescents.

Look for flickers in open habitats near trees, including woods, edges, patios, and parks. In the west, you can find them in the mountain forests up to the treeline.

Steller’s Jay

Steller's Jay

Steller’s jays are large songbirds with large heads, stocky bodies, rounded wings, and a long, full tail. The beak is long, straight and powerful, with a slight hook. Steller’s Blue Jays have a prominent triangular crest that often rises almost in a straight line from their head.

From a distance, Steller’s jays are very dark jays with no white underparts like most other species. The head is charcoal black and the body is all blue (lighter, almost shiny, on the wings).

The white markings on the eye are quite inconspicuous. Like other jays, Steller’s jays are bold, curious, intelligent, and loud. Steller’s jays spend much of their time exploring the forest canopy, flying with the beat of patient wings.

They come to the forest floor to investigate visitors and forage for food, moving with decisive leaps on their long legs.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Songbird with a large crested head and a broad, rounded tail. Blue jays are smaller than crows, bigger than robins.
White or light gray below, various shades of blue, white and black above.

Blue Jays make a wide variety of calls that travel long distances. Most calls are made while the jay is perched inside a tree. It usually flies silently through open areas, especially during migration.

Keep food in the throat pouch to store elsewhere; when eating, it holds a seed or nut at its feet and opens it.
Blue jays are birds that border the forest.

Acorns are a favorite food and are often found near oak trees, towns, cities, parks, forests, and groves.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Usually, goldfinches flock with Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls. The males in the spring are bright yellow and glossy black with a little white. Its strong sexual dimorphism characterizes them.

The male, which in winter has a green-blue to brown plumage, looks bright yellow in summer to attract females during the mating season, while in summer the females’ dull yellow-brown plumage becomes lighter.

With a conical beak to extract the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads when feeding, the American goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for seedhead consumption.

This finch is known to eat garden vegetation as well and is particularly fond of beet greens. It is a social animal, and, when feeding and migrating, will gather in large flocks.

During nest building, it can act territorially, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is related to the peak supply of food, starting in late July, which is relatively late for a finch in the year.

Generally, this species is monogamous, and each year it produces one brood.

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

Big finch, about twice the size of a goldfinch. A thick, pale beak with a sharply forked tail. Males are very noticeable with dark heads fading on the underparts to light yellow and mainly black wings with white secondaries.

Almost all of the females are grey with some white on their wings. Often flocks come to feeders for sunflower seeds. It is found especially at high elevations in forested regions.

Their populations are decreasing sharply. Their breeding area is a coniferous and mixed woodland throughout Canada and the western mountainous parts of the United States and Mexico.

It’s an incredibly rare drifter to the British Isles, with just two records to date. The nest is built on a horizontal branch or a tree fork.

This bird’s migration is variable; it may wander as far south as the southern U.S. in some winters. These birds feed on trees and bushes, often on the grass. They feed primarily on nuts, berries, and insects. Excluding the nesting season, they also feed in flocks. They’ll swallow fine gravel occasionally.

In historical times, the range of this species has spread further to the east, likely due to the planting of Manitoba maples and other maples and shrubs around farms and the availability in winter of bird feeders.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebirds are small thrushes that generally perch upright. They are plump with thin, straight beaks and fairly short tails.
Male western bluebirds have a bright blue top with a rust orange vest that extends from the chest to the upper back. Females are beige-gray with a pale orange wash on the chest and blue tints on the wings and tail.

The throat is blue in males and grayish in females, and the lower part of the belly is whitish.
These birds are very sociable and generally feed in flocks during the non-breeding season.

They hunt terrestrial insects by throwing themselves to the ground from a low position. Western bluebirds also frequently feed on tree berries.

Western bluebirds depend on trees for both nesting cavities and hunting perches, and also for perching on fences and utility lines.

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee

The green-tailed Towhees are small but robust songbirds with a large head, stocky body, and a longish tail. The bill is thick and sparrow-like in shape. They are larger than most sparrows and have shorter tails than the majority of other towhees.

The green-tailed Towhees are grayish birds with olive-yellow wings, back, and tail feathers. A bright rufous crown, white throat, and a dark “mustache” stripe distinguish the head.

The green-tailed Towhees forage on the ground or in the dense foliage of shrubs. Except when males sing from the top of a shrub, they can be difficult to see. Their call, a quiet, cat-like mew, can assist you in locating them.

Yellow-eyed Junco

Yellow-eyed Junco

A medium-sized sparrow with a round belly, thick neck, and a long tail. It has a small conical bill, like other sparrows.

Adults have gray upperparts, paler underparts, a rusty back, and a bright yellow eye. A black line runs through the yellow eye to the two-toned bill, which is dark on top and pale on the bottom. It has white outer tail feathers that flash in flight, just like other juncos.

Forages for seeds and insects on the ground, uncovering them by shuffling or scratching in the leaf litter.

Found in mountain pine-oak and ponderosa pine forests ranging in elevation from 4,000 to 11,000 feet.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Long-tailed sparrows with small heads and stout seed-eating bills.
Adult Golden-crowned Sparrows are streaked brown above and smooth gray to brown below, with a black crown and bright-yellow forehead in the summer. Winter and immature Golden-crowned Sparrows have a duller appearance, with brown replacing black on the head and a less noticeable yellow on the crown.

Golden-crowned Sparrows forage on the ground and in low vegetation for seeds and insects. They whistle slow, mournful songs from high perches and build their nests in dense, low vegetation. During migration and winter, they congregate in large groups and mix with other sparrows, particularly White-crowned Sparrows.

Red-faced Warbler

Red-faced Warbler

A small, slender songbird with a long tail, short wings, and a short, stubby bill.

Adult males are sleek gray birds with a bright red face and a black crown and ear patch. Females have the same pattern, but the red is less vibrant. The gray upperparts have a white nape, wingbar, and rump, while the underparts are white. The faces of immatures are pinkish.

Flits quickly along branches, frequently flicking the tail, looking for small insects in the foliage and branches. Hovering briefly to seize insects at branch tips, and catching them in midair.

Rufous-capped Warbler

Attractive, perky, long-tailed warbler found in the foothills and highlands, as well as locally in the lowlands. It prefers brushy and weedy areas near woodland and scrub. Hops with long tail cocked, usually in pairs, low in brush.

Take note of the white brow, rusted cap, and yellow bib. Birds in southeast Mexico and Belize have a bright yellow underbelly. South of Guatemala, populations have shorter tails, solid chestnut cheeks, and extensive yellow below, prefer more humid habitats, and sound quite different from northern populations. This form is frequently considered a distinct species: Chestnut-capped Warbler.

Scaled Quail

Scaled Quail

A small, chicken-like bird with a distinctive short crest. It has a plump body, a short tail, and strong, short legs.

Adults have pale brownish underparts with elegant dark scaling. The head is plain brown with a buffy crest accent. The back is bluish gray, and the wings are brown with buff stippling. Juveniles are similar but have a shorter crest and a more ornate pattern on the upperwing.

Forages in small groups (coveys) by walking slowly across the ground, pecking at seeds and insects and nibbling vegetation. In the spring, males sing from prominent perches. Often seen in small groups along roadsides, usually fleeing or flushing into flight.

Spotted Owl

Spotted Owl

Spotted Owls are large, rounded-headed owls with no ear tufts. The wings are broad and rounded, with a short tail.

Spotted Owls are dark-brown in color with white splotches. Large, oval white spots cover the chest and belly. Dark brown facial disks with pale marks forming an X between the eyes. A paler facial disk distinguishes the Mexican subspecies. The eyes are brown in color.

Spotted Owls are nocturnal creatures. They hunt small mammals, particularly flying squirrels and woodrats, by quietly listening from a perch and then swooping down on their prey.

Spotted Owls are sensitive to habitat disturbance and live in mature forests.

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