• Capulin Volcano National Monument by J. Unruh

    Capulin Volcano

    National Monument New Mexico

Birds

Roadrunner.

Roadrunner.

NPS PHOTO

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.

Red-tail hawk

Red-tail hawk.

YELLOWSTONE DIGITAL SLIDE FILE

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.

Mountain Blue bird

Mountain Bluebird perched on prairie grass.

NPS Z. CARTMELL

Checklist of Birds - 1981
Checklist of Birds - 2002

Birds sighted summer of 2004

Did You Know?

color photograph of pincushion cactus with blossom

Desert plants such as cacti may be found in the monument as the average yearly rainfall is only 15 inches.