A bird with a beige breast, striking dark throat, and bright white stripes on its face perches on a yucca plant.
A black-throated sparrow, a common bird in Joshua Tree National Park, perches on a yucca plant.

NPS / Brad Sutton

With over 250 species of birds recorded from Joshua Tree National Park, it is understandable that the park affords a rewarding place to study them. This is especially true during the winter months when migrants abound.

The vast majority of our recorded bird species are migrants and vagrants. Lying astride the inland portion of the Pacific flyway, the park serves as a rest stop for many migrants. The aquatic areas of Barker Dam and the Desert Queen Ranch attract many types of waterfowl on their way to the Salton Sea, birds that would not otherwise be seen in the desert. Rest stops are important for most migratory birds for purposes of water intake and for metabolism of fat reserves, which may not keep pace with energy use while they are actually in flight. Many of our migrants are actually residents of the nearby mountains, from which they fly to escape the heavy winter snows.

Although most birds require drinking water almost every day, this is not such a limiting factor as might be supposed. There are many springs and seeps in the park, which are readily accessible to animals that can fly to them. The chief limiting factor for birds in the desert is food. Birds require relatively large amounts of food daily, especially during the breeding season. Thus, it is understandable that there are only 78 species of birds known to nest and raise young in the park.

The park is an attractive place to sight and watch birds. The lack of dense vegetation makes birds much easier to see here than in most national parks. Golden eagles hunt in the park regularly. The roadrunner, of cartoon fame, is an easily recognized resident. And the call of Gambel's quail is a noteworthy sound of the desert.

Check out our Birds album on Flickr.


Bird List

* Nests
*? Nesting suspected but not confirmed
(w) Water. Species for which water is a primary habitat. May be uncommon or absent entirely during periods of drought.




Ducks and Geese

Snow Goose (w) Rare Migrant
Brant (w) Casual Migrant
Canada Goose (w) Rare Migrant
Wood Duck (w) Casual Migrant
Gadwall (w) Casual Migrant
American Wigeon (w) Rare Migrant
Mallard * (w) Fairly Common Migrant
Blue-winged Teal (w) Rare Migrant
Cinnamon Teal (w) Rare Migrant
Northern Shoveler (w) Rare Migrant
Green-winged Teal (w) Uncommon Migrant
Canvasback (w) Rare Migrant
Redhead (w) Rare Migrant
Ring-necked Duck Rare Migrant
Lesser Scaup (w) Rare Migrant
Bufflehead (w) Rare Migrant
Hooded Merganser (w) Casual Migrant
Common Merganser (w) Rare Migrant
Red-breasted Merganser (w) Casual Migrant
Ruddy Duck * (w) Uncommon Migrant

Quail & Partridges

Mountain Quail Uncommon Resident
Gambel's Quail Common Resident
Chukar *? Rare Resident


Common Loon (w) Casual Migrant


Pied-billed Grebe * (w) Uncommon Migrant
Eared Grebe (w) Uncommon Migrant
Western Grebe Casual Vagrant

Cormorants & Pelicans

Double-crested Cormorant Casual Vagrant
American White Pelican Rare Migrant
Brown Pelican Casual Vagrant

Bitterns, Herons, & Ibises

American Bittern (w) Rare Migrant
Great Blue Heron (w) Rare Migrant
Great Egret (w) Rare Migrant
Snowy Egret (w) Rare Migrant
Cattle Egret (w) Rare Migrant
Green Heron (w) Rare Migrant
Black-crowned Night-heron (w) Rare Migrant
White-faced Ibis (w) Rare Migrant


Turkey Vulture * Common Migrant

Osprey, Hawks, & Eagles

Osprey Uncommon Migrant
Bald Eagle Rare Migrant
Northern Harrier Uncommon Migrant
Sharp-shinned Hawk Uncommon Migrant
Cooper's Hawk *? Uncommon Resident
Swainson's Hawk Irregular Migrant
Red-tailed Hawk * Common Resident
Ferruginous Hawk Rare Migrant
Rough-legged Hawk Casual Migrant
Golden Eagle * Rare Resident
Zone-tailed Hawk Rare Vagrant

Rails, Gallinules, & Coots

Virginia Rail (w) Casual Migrant
Sora (w) Rare Migrant
Common Gallinule (w) Casual Migrant
American Coot * (w) Fairly Common Migrant


Snowy Plover (w) Casual Migrant
Semipalmated Plover (w) Casual Migrant
Killdeer Uncommon Migrant
Black-necked Stilt (w) Uncommon Migrant
American Avocet (w) Rare Migrant
Spotted Sandpiper (w) Rare Migrant
Solitary Sandpiper (w) Rare Migrant
Greater Yellowlegs (w) Rare Migrant
Willet (w) Casual Migrant
Sanderling (w) Casual Migrant
Least Sandpiper (w) Rare Migrant
Long-billed Dowitcher (w) Rare Migrant
Common Snipe (w) Rare Migrant
Wilson's Phalarope (w) Rare Migrant
Red-necked Phalarope (w) Rare Migrant

Gulls & Terns

Ringed-billed Gull Rare Migrant
California Gull Casual Migrant

Pigeons & Doves

Rock Pigeon *? Uncommon Resident
Band-tailed Pigeon Rare Vagrant
Eurasian Collared-Dove *? Uncommon Resident
White-winged Dove * Uncommon Migrant
Mourning Dove * Common Resident
Common Ground-Dove Rare Vagrant

Cuckoos & Roadrunners

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Casual Vagrant
Greater Roadrunner* Uncommon Resident


Barn Owl * Uncommmon Resident
Western Screech-Owl * Rare Resident
Great Horned Owl* Common Resident
Elf Owl * Rare Migrant
Burrowing Owl * Uncommon Resident
Long-eared Owl * Irregular Resident
Northern Saw-whet Owl Casual Migrant


Lesser Nighthawk* Uncommon Migrant
Common Nighthawk Casual Vagrant
Common Poorwill * Fairly common Resident


Vaux's Swift Fairly common Migrant
White-throated Swift * Common Migrant


Black-chinned Hummingbird *? Uncommon Migrant
Anna's Hummingbird * Common Resident
Costa's Hummingbird * Common Resident
Broad-tailed Hummingbird Casual Vagrant
Calliope Hummingbird Casual Migrant
Rufous Hummingbird Fairly common Migrant
Allen's Hummingbird Casual Migrant


Belted Kingfisher (w) Rare Migrant


Lewis's Woodpecker Uncommon Migrant
Acorn Woodpecker Uncommon Migrant
Williamson's Sapsucker Casual Migrant
Red-naped Sapsucker Uncommon Migrant
Red-breasted Sapsucker Rare Migrant
Ladder-backed Woodpecker * Common Resident
Nuttall's Woodpecker Rare Migrant
Hairy Woodpecker Casual Vagrant
White-headed Woodpecker Casual Migrant
Northern (Red.-sh.) Flicker * Casual Resident


American Kestrel * Common Resident
Merlin Rare Migrant
Peregrine Falcon Rare Migrant
Prairie Falcon * Uncommon Resident

Tyrant Flycatchers

Olive-sided Flycatcher Rare Migrant
Western Wood Pewee Fairly common Migrant
Willow Flycatcher Rare Migrant
Hammond's Flycatcher Uncommon Migrant
Gray Flycatcher *? Uncommon Migrant
Dusky Flycatcher Rare Migrant
Pacific-slope Flycatcher Common Migrant
Black Phoebe * Fairly common Resident
Say's Phoebe * Common Resident
Vermilion Flycatcher Casual Vagrant
Ash-throated Flycatcher * Common Migrant
Brown-crested Flycatcher *? Casual Vagrant
Cassin's Kingbird *? Rare Migrant
Western Kingbird * Common Migrant


Loggerhead Shrike * Common Resident


Bell's Vireo *? Casual Migrant
Gray Vireo * Rare Migrant
Plumbeous Vireo Uncommon Migrant
Cassin's Vireo Uncommon Migrant
Hutton's Vireo Casual Vagrant
Warbling Vireo Fairly common Migrant

Jays & Crows

Pinyon Jay * Fairly common Resident
Steller's Jay Irregular Migrant
Western Scrub-Jay * Common Resident
Clark's Nutcracker Rare Vagrant
Common Raven * Common Resident


Horned Lark * Fairly common Resident


Purple Martin Casual Migrant
Tree Swallow Common Migrant
Violet-green Swallow *? Common Migrant
N. Rough-winged Swallow Common Migrant
Cliff Swallow Common Migrant
Barn Swallow Common Migrant

Chickadees & Titmice

Mountain Chickadee Irregular Migrant
Oak Titmouse * Fairly common Resident


Verdin * Common Resident


Bushtit * Common Resident


Red-breasted Nuthatch Rare Migrant
White-breasted Nuthatch Rare Migrant
Pygmy Nuthatch Casual Vagrant


Rock Wren * Fairly common Resident
Canyon Wren * Fairly common Resident
House Wren Rare Migrant
Winter Wren Casual Vagrant
Pacific Wren Casual Vagrant
Marsh Wren (w) Rare Migrant
Cactus Wren * Common Resident
Bewick's Wren * Fairly common Resident


Golden-crowned Kinglet Casual Migrant
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Common Migrant


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher * Fairly common Resident
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher * Fairly common Resident


Western Bluebird * Uncommon Migrant
Mountain Bluebird Irregular Migrant
Townsend's Solitaire Irregular Migrant
Swainson's Thrush Rare Migrant
Hermit Thrush Uncommon Migrant
American Robin Common Migrant
Varied Thrush Casual Migrant

Mockingbirds & Thrashers

Northern Mockingbird * Common Resident
Sage Thrasher Uncommon Migrant
Brown Thrasher Casual Vagrant
Bendire's Thrasher * Rare Migrant
California Thrasher * Uncommon Resident
LeConte's Thrasher * Uncommon Resident


European Starling * Common Resident

Wagtails & Pipits

American Pipit Irregular Migrant


Cedar Waxwing Irregular Migrant


Phainopepla * Common Resident


Ovenbird Casual Migrant
Louisiana Waterthrush Casual Vagrant
Northern Waterthrush Casual Migrant
Black-and-White Warbler Casual Migrant
Tennessee Warbler Casual Migrant
Orange-crowned Warbler Common Migrant
Lucy's Warbler Rare Migrant
Nashville Warbler Common Migrant
Virginia's Warbler Rare Migrant
MacGillivray's Warbler Fairly common Migrant
Kentucky Warbler Casual Vagrant
Common Yellowthroat Fairly common Migrant
Hooded Warbler Rare Migrant
American Redstart Casual Migrant
Yellow Warbler Common Migrant
Chestnut-sided Warbler Casual Vagrant
Black-throated Blue Warbler Casual Vagrant
Yellow-rumped Warbler Common Migrant
Black-throated Gray Warbler Common Migrant
Townsend's Warbler Common Migrant
Hermit Warbler Uncommon Migrant
Wilson's Warbler Common Migrant
Painted Redstart Casual Vagrant
Yellow-breasted Chat Rare Migrant

Sparrows & Emberizid Finches

Green-tailed Towhee Uncommon Migrant
Spotted Towhee * Common Resident
California Towhee * Uncommon Resident
Rufous-crowned Sparrow Rare Migrant
Chipping Sparrow Fairly common Migrant
Brewer's Sparrow * Fairly common Migrant
Black-chinned Sparrow * Uncommon Migrant
Vesper Sparrow Rare Migrant
Lark Sparrow Rare Migrant
Black-throated Sparrow * Common Resident
Sage Sparrow Uncommon Migrant
Lark Bunting Casual Vagrant
Savannah Sparrow Rare Migrant
Grasshopper Sparrow Casual Vagrant
Fox Sparrow Rare Migrant
Song Sparrow Uncommon Migrant
Lincoln's Sparrow Uncommon Migrant
White-throated Sparrow Casual Vagrant
Harris's Sparrow Casual Vagrant
White-crowned Sparrow Common Migrant
Golden-Crowned Sparrow Uncommon Migrant
Dark-eyed Junco Common Migrant

Tanagers, Cardinals, Grosbeaks, & Allies

Summer Tanager Casual Migrant
Western Tanager *? Common Migrant
Pyrrhuloxia Casual Vagrant
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Rare Migrant
Black-headed Grosbeak *? Common Migrant
Blue Grosbeak Casual Migrant
Lazuli Bunting *? Fairly common Migrant
Indigo Bunting Casual Migrant

Blackbirds, Orioles, & Allies

Red-winged Blackbird Uncommon Migrant
Western Meadowlark Fairly common Migrant
Yellow-headed Blackbird Rare Migrant
Brewer's Blackbird *? Fairly common Migrant
Common Grackle Casual Vagrant
Great-tailed Grackle *? Uncommon Resident
Brown-headed Cowbird * Fairly common Migrant
Hooded Oriole * Fairly common Migrant
Bullock's Oriole * Fairly common Migrant
Scott's Oriole * Common Migrant

Fringillid & Cardueline Finches

Purple Finch Irregular Migrant
Cassin's Finch Irregular Migrant
House Finch * Common Resident
Red Crossbill Casual Migrant
Pine Siskin Irregular Migrant
Lesser Goldfinch * Fairly common Resident
Lawrence's Goldfinch * Irregular Migrant
American Goldfinch Casual Vagrant

Old World Sparrows

House Sparrow * Common Resident

Last updated: June 26, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

Contact Us