Riparian Birds

Heron on a branch
Great Blue Herons are one of the many waterbirds found year-round in Grand Canyon National Park.

Rich Hansen, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The Colorado River runs for 277 miles through Grand Canyon National Park. Combined with miles of springs and tributary streams, the Grand Canyon is home to a massive network of riparian areas that are key habitat for hundreds of species. These aquatic areas are water holes in an arid environment, provide abundant food sources, and are filled with thick vegetation which is ideal habitat for many birds species. Many species, such as belted kingfishers, live in the Canyon year round, feeding on native fish in the Colorado River and its tributaries. Migratory birds, like the lesser scaup, rely on the Canyon as important winter habitat when their summer ranges become too cold. And for yet other species, like the critically endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, the waterways in the Grand Canyon are important nesting habitat.
Small bird standing in water
Dippers prefer the clear, fast moving tributary streams that flow into the Colorado River.

NPS Robb Hannawacker

American Dipper

North America's only aquatic songbird, the American dipper is a rarely-seen bird that lives in the Grand Canyon year-round.

Bird with a fish in it's mouth
Kingfishers feed on fish and other aquatic creatures.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Belted Kingfisher

With their prominent crest, large beak, and fishing behavior, kingfishers are an iconic riparian species. They are often seen perched on branches overlooking the Colorado River, waiting for fish to pass below.

Dark colored duck swimming
Scaups are one of the most commonly seen duck species in the Grand Canyon.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Lesser Scaup
One of the migratory species that rely on the Grand Canyon for habitat, lesser scaups are a species of diving duck that spend the winter along the Colorado River before returning to their summer habitat in Canada and the northern United State.
Brown bird on a branch
Flycatchers perch while waiting for prey.

Natural Resources Conservation Service- Colorado, USDA

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

A critically endangered species, these flycatchers build their nests in the thick vegetation along the Colorado River- one of the only places in the world where they continue to breed in the wild.


Last updated: April 17, 2019

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Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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