Chiricahua Bird Checklist
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Chiricahua National Monument is home to a wide variety of birds. Southeast Arizona is reknowned for its avian diversity, and several borderland sites, including Chiricahua National Monument, have been identified as "Important Bird Areas" by the American Bird Conservancy. These areas are home to federally listed Threatened and Endangered species, species with restricted ranges, and large numbers of migratory birds.
As birds fly north or south on their yearly migrations to Mexico, Central and South America, they are "funneled" through parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Many migrants stop for brief periods along the way, and others come to stay for the summer or winter months. There are always interesting birds to search for at the park.
Learn about two bird species that were both reintroduced into the Chiricahua Mountains. The Gould's Turkey was a successful reintroduction, while the colorful Thick-billed Parrot was not.
Our diverse habitats and southern location bring a variety of Mexican species across the border - such as the elegant trogon and the magnificent hummingbird. In fact, thirteen species of hummingbirds are know to occur in the Chiricahua Mountains, and many of these are Mexican species that are rarely seen in the United States. In all, there are around 200 species of birds that have been documented in this area, making it a great stop for both the serious and casual birder!
Commonly Seen Birds
Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma wollweberi), formerly known as the "gray-breasted jay," are a year-round resident in Chiricahua National Monument. Mexican jays are very social and communicative, and often seem unafraid of people. While it can be tempting to feed them, please help us keep our wildlife wild, and leave them alone.
Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) have a clownish face, and if you see one, look for others in the area. Acorn woodpeckers are seen throughout the monument, but are most commonly along the Silver Spur Meadow Trail and Lower Rhyolite Trail.
You might hear a canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus) before you see it, if you see it at all. They have a beautiful descending trill that is heard throughout the monument. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has the canyon wren's calls recorded.
The White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) can be spotted moving upside down on tree trunks, picking out insects. Nuthatches also eat acorns and other seeds.
Three different Towhee species call the Chiricahua Mountains home. Look for Canyon Towhees (Pipilo fuscus) which are grayish and nondescript, and Spotted Towhees (Pipilo maculatus) which are black, white, and orange. The third species, the Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus), is migratory.
Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) enjoy the benefits of Chiricahua year-round. If you see them flying, notice their white rumps and reddish underwings. In the eastern part of the United States, Northern Flickers have yellow under their wings. Unlike other woodpeckers, flickers often forage for insects on the ground.
The Common Raven (Corvus corax) is one of the smartest birds in the United States. Look for them soaring around Massai Point. Ravens are extreme omnivores, eating everything from the expected (small animals, eggs, invertebrates, reptiles, etc.) to the weird (carrion, feces, and garbage).
The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is fairly common in Chiricahua during the summer. Watch for them coming into roost at night in the cliffs above the amphitheater at Bonita Canyon Campground, as well as at higher elevations. If ecosystems lost all their turkey vultures, which scavenge carrion (dead animals), then the world would be a lot smellier.
Many birds of prey are residents year-round. Look for the ubiquitous Red-tailed Hawk as you explore the monument. You might also spy the Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel, and Prairie Falcon during your visit. Other hawks, eagles, and falcons migrate through, sometimes spending the winter.
Last updated: August 1, 2018