With its varied topography, Dinosaur National Monument includes a number of different habitats: riparian (along waterways), sagebrush, pinyon-juniper woodland, grassland, montane forest, and more. These diverse areas are home to more than 200 bird species, some year-round residents, others part-time residents at Dinosaur.
Dinosaur's rivers are used by, among others, bald eagles, Canada geese, and great blue herons. High above the rivers, canyon walls are home to turkey vultures, peregrine falcons, and a number of hawk species. Nearly a third of all the bird species in the monument have been detected in the pinyon-juniper woodlands, which cover nearly half the monument.
Download a Bird Checklist for the monument (Adobe pdf)
Learn more about a few of Dinosaur National Monument's birds below.
Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) feed primarily on pine seeds. To ensure a supply of food for winter, these birds stockpile seeds in underground caches. A pouch under the tongue allows them carry more than 100 seeds at a time to the cache site. Listen to a Clark's nutcracker.
Male mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides) are a vivid blue, making them easy to identify. Despite their more subdued coloring, patches of blue can also be seen on the females. These birds eat insects and nest in tree cavities. Listen to a mountain bluebird.
Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) are often seen soaring in the sky, searching for carrion (dead animals). Although from a distance turkey vultures may appear all black, their featherless red heads are one of their most distinctive features. Turkey vultures use their keen sense of smell to locate food. Because turkey vultures lack a syrinx, the avian vocal organ, their vocalizations are limited to grunting and hissing.
Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), the largest grouse in North America, require sagebrush and sage steppe for survival. They eat forbs and insects in spring and summer and rely mainly on sagebrush buds in winter. Listen to a greater sage grouse.
Common ravens (Corvus corax) are large, black birds frequently seen at both at Dinosaur National Monument and across the West. Ravens, part of the corvid or crow family, are among the most intelligent birds. Listen to a raven.
Common mergansers (Mergus merganser), recognizable by their scarlet-orange bills, are often seen along the river. These diving ducks eat mostly fish, but will also feed on small aquatic animals and insects. Listen to a common merganser.
Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) nest underground and feed mostly on insects and small mammals. These small owls can dig their own burrows, but will often use burrows created by prairie dogs or other animals. The males often stand watch on a mound near the nest burrow. Listen to a burrowing owl.
Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) are a medium-sized bird of prey, roughly the size of a crow. Although males and females are identical in appearance, the female can be a third larger than the male. These previously-endangered birds nest on high, remote cliff ledges in Dinosaur's canyon country. Listen to a peregrine falcon.