Capulin plays host to many birds throughout the year, from hawks and turkey vultures to towhees and hummingbirds. On occasion, a roadrunner or great horned owl may appear as well. The prairie grasslands surrounding the volcano are prime hunting ground for birds of prey, while the abundant pinyon/juniper woodland provides protective cover for smaller birds. Ravens and hawks can be seen riding the warm columns of air that rise up and around the volcanic cone, called thermals. As you hike, listen for the chitter and rustling of smaller birds as they seek out insects or seeds in the sheltered undergrowth of pinyon, juniper, and Gambel's oak.
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Hawks can sometimes be seen soaring above the monument, catching a ride on the thermals rising above the volcano or soaring above the surrounding grassland. Red-tailed hawks, Ferringous hawks, and Northern Harriers have been spotted in the monument and are all raptors, or birds of prey, that use the prairie surrounding Capulin as their hunting ground. Their hooked beaks and sharp talons aid them in hunting small rodents, lizards, and snakes. Look to the skies for their broad, rounded wings and short, broad tails, and listen for their signature screech - the one characterized in Hollywood movies.
Did You Know?
The road to the top of Capulin Volcano National Monument was first constructed in 1925 by Homer J. Farr.