Bird Watching

raven perched on Hovenweep Castle at sunset
Ravens are common throughout the monument, but particularly like perching on Hovenweep Castle.

NPS Photo by Austin Tumas

Although Hovenweep may not be known for birding, the park has a variety of birds, from the black-chinned hummingbird to the common raven. Over 100 species of birds call Hovenweep home or travel through the monument during migration.

Where to Bird Watch

For smaller birds, look among the pinyon-juniper-sage cover or on the ground around vegetation. Larger birds – especially raptors - can be seen flying or perched on a tree or rock that gives them a good view of the surrounding landscape.

In the bottom of canyons, water and riparian plants attract birds not normally found in the high desert. The natural quiet of Hovenweep allows the many bird songs to drift through the canyon. You may even be startled by small birds making lots of noise in the brush as they scavenge for insects and seeds in ground litter (leaves, twigs, grasses). How to Bird

Basic birding etiquette:

  • Tread lightly and quietly – birds may spook easily

  • Don’t feed the birds to try to get them to come to you

  • Please refrain from using recorded bird calls to elicit responses

Books about Birds

Books and other materials on birds are available for purchase in the visitor center bookstore.

canyon wren perched on a cliffrose bush
With a distinctive song that echoes throughout the canyons, canyon wrens are easier to hear than see.

NPS Photo by Andrew Kuhn

Common Birds

During your visit, you’ll most likely see or hear one of the following:

  • Common Raven – Ravens are common throughout the park.
  • Long-Eared Owl – Hovenweep’s campground and nearby canyons usually have at least one nest a year, in the spring. Observe them with binoculars at dusk.
  • Canyon Wren – Canyon wrens are easier heard than seen. From the canyon rim, listen closely for this wren’s cascading trill.
male western tanager perched on a branch
Look for jewel-toned western tanagers in the spring, when they migrate through Hovenweep.

NPS Photo

Rarer Finds

Birds found in the park, though not commonly seen include:

  • Golden Eagle – Look for this large raptor flying overheard or on a high perch.
  • Western Tanager – lucky birders may get a rare sight – this jewel-toned bird migrates through the Hovenweep area in the spring.
  • Greater Roadrunner – These desert icons are most-easily seen in the fall, but even then are elusive.

Species List


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Learn More

You can explore birds and wildlife watching from national parks around the country.

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    Tags: birdwatching

    Last updated: March 19, 2018

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    McElmo Route
    Cortez, CO 81321


    970 562-4282 x5

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