Various Bird Species Frequent the Different Life Zones Within the Park

Riparian: The lush vegetation and diversity of plant species along the riparian zone create many bird habitats in a relatively small area. Of the 373 bird species recorded in the greater Grand Canyon region, 250 are found in the Colorado River corridor. Only 48 bird species regularly nest along the river while others use the river as a migration corridor or as overwintering habitat. The Bald eagle is one species that uses the river corridor as winter habitat. The trout rich waters of the Colorado River provide a perfect food source for the eagles. Since the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, large numbers of waterfowl have begun using the stretch of river below the dam during the winter, peaking in late December and early January. Nineteen species have been regularly reported between Lees Ferry and Soap Creek, at a density of 136 ducks per mile.

Desert Scrub: Approximately 30 bird species breed primarily in the desert uplands and cliffs of the inner canyon. There are no endemic birds here. Virtually all bird species present breed in other suitable habitats throughout the Sonoran and Mohave deserts. Park biologists estimate that at least 100 pairs of peregrine falcons nest along the cliffs of the inner canyon. The abundance of bats, swifts, and riparian birds provides ample food for peregrines, and suitable eyrie sites are plentiful along the steep canyons walls. Also, several endangered California Condor individuals, re-introduced to the Colorado Plateau on the Arizona Strip, have made the eastern part of the Park their home.

Coniferous Forests: Of the approximately 90 bird species that breed in the coniferous forests, 51 are summer residents and at least 15 of these are known to be neotropical migrants. Impacts to bird populations from natural and prescribed fire activities are largely unknown, but forest fires undoubtedly affect species distributions and population levels. Goshawks and spotted owls are threatened elsewhere in the southwest from logging activities. Goshawks in particular, and to a lesser extent spotted owls, find refuge in the park primarily in the conifer forests and upper side canyons along both North and South rims.


Related Information

Canyon Sketches Vol 08 - December 2008
Park Biologists Survey for Non-Native Brown-Headed Cowbirds
Park biologists located 500 nests of songbirds in Grand Canyon National Park in 2008. Biologists searched for the nests as part of a project aimed at understanding the distribution of brown-headed cowbirds in the park, a non-native species. Cowbirds don't build their own nests or care for their young. They lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, possibly impacting populations of the park's native bird species.

Birds of Grand Canyon NP (154kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Vertebrate Animal Species List (223kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Threatened & Endangered Species List (52kb PDF File)

Arizona Game and Fish Web Site

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