State of Nevada

Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides (Female) ©Allan D Wilson - Wikimedia Website
Birding Nevada

Most people’s mental image of Nevada is of great expanses of dry desert landscape, covered with sagebrush and blowing sand. The fact that Nevada is the driest state, averaging less than 4 inches of precipitation a year, supports this image. In fact, ranked sixth in the nation for biodiversity, Nevada, a Spanish word meaning snow-covered mountains, offers birders much more than barren wastelands.

Located almost entirely in the Great Basin portion of the Intermountain Region, Nevada boasts 51 peaks with an elevation over 9,000 feet. The highest, Boundary Peak, along the California border, towers over 13,000 feet, while the lower end along the lower Colorado River sits at 420 feet. This wide range supports many diverse habitats. Nevada is a state of basins and ranges, with numerous north/south lying mountain ranges separated by valleys. Nevada ranks 7th in area and 35th in population, with a density of 16 people per square mile. Nearly 75% of the population lives in the Las Vegas area.

The bird life is as diverse as the habitats, with a state list hovering around 488 species, nearly 250 of which are known to breed in the state. Located on the Pacific Flyway, Nevada hosts a wide range of shorebirds and waterfowl. In 1999, over 60,000 shorebirds were tallied in both the Spring and Fall counts, with Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-necked Stilts, and American Avocets as the most numerous species. Large concentrations of wintering raptors can be found in the Northwestern part of the state. Eastern Nevada is the only place in North America to see the introduced Himalayan Snowcock, and southern Nevada receives many visitors for Le Conte’s Thrasher and other desert species.

The state has two Audubon chapters, Lahonton Audubon in the Reno area and Red Rock in Las Vegas, the Great Basin Bird Observatory, and an active Nature Conservancy chapter. A newly implemented Important Bird Area program has designated several Globally and Continentally Important sites. The Globally Important sites include the Goshute Mountains, Lahonton Valley Wetlands, Ruby Lake NWR, and Walker Lake. Pahranagat NWR is a Continentally Important site. Other potential Important Bird Areas include Franklin Lake, Humboldt WMA and Pyramid Lake. Nevada is also an active member in Partners in Flight.

With the aid of dedicated volunteers, fieldwork on the Nevada Breeding Bird Atlas has been completed and will be published by the Great Basin Bird Observatory in 2002. Eight MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding stations are currently in operation, and new stations are in the planning stages. An ongoing raptor migration project, which includes banding, in the Goshute Mountains in eastern Nevada, is sponsored by HawkWatch International. News of these projects and current local sightings can be found on the Nevada Birding Listserv.

This page is sponsored by Bird Las Vegas

  • Beth & Bill Clark


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 488

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird - Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides

  • iGoTerra Checklist

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Useful Reading

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada

    | By Ted Floyd | University of Nevada Press | 2007 | Hardback | 581 pages, distribution maps, drawings | ISBN: 9780874176957 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Southwest : Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California, and Southern Nevada

    | By John H Rappole | Texas A&M University Press | 2001 | Paperback | 329 pages, 456 col, 44 b/w photos, 1 line drawing, 457 maps | ISBN: 9780890969588 Buy this book from
  • Important Bird Areas of Nevada

    | By DE McIvor | Lahontan Audubon Society | 2005 | Paperback | 0970343825 | 150 pages, 50+ colour photos, 39 b/w maps, tables | ISBN: 9780970343826 Buy this book from
  • Nevada Birding Map

    | By Lahontan Audubon Society & Ronald J Conkey | Lahontan Audubon Society | 2007 | Map | colour photos, colour map, dimensions: 61 x 91 cm / 24 x 36 inch | ISBN: 9780970343833 Buy this book from
  • Nevada Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

    | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2000 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781583551561 Buy this book from

    | By Graham Chisholm & Larry A Neel | University of Nevada Press | 2001 | Paperback | 224 pages, 60 illustrations, 4 maps | ISBN: 9780874174793 Buy this book from
  • Great Basin Bird Observatory

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    The Great Basin Bird Observatory is a non-profit organization of scientists dedicated to furthering bird conservation in the Great Basin and adjoining regions.
Museums & Universities
  • Barrick Museum Las Vegas

    The Mission of The Las Vegas Natural History Museum. To inspire, through educational exhibits and programs, a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world, the sciences, and ourselves.
  • Audubon Society in Nevada

    Offices & Chapters
  • Bristlecone Audubon

    Facebook Page
    Bristlecone Audubon is dedicated to preserving all wild lands, wild watersheds and their wildlife habitats on public and private lands in northeast Nevada, protecting them from ongoing threats, educating the public about the value and need for healthy living landscapes, promoting a conservation ethic in our communities and improving the management and restoration of all native landscapes for the benefit of humanity and earth’s biological diversity.
  • Lahontan Audubon Society

    Lahontan Audubon Society (LAS) was founded in December 1963 by Fred Ryser, John Davis, and Marge Sill. LAS started the Truckee Meadows Christmas Bird Count that same year, and has collected over 50 years of data for that original count circle, as well as creating several other area Christmas Bird Count circles.
  • Nature Conservancy in Nevada

    We’re tackling the biggest threats to land and water across Nevada so people and nature can thrive.
  • Nevada Bird Records Committee

    If you have observed a rare bird in Nevada, a written description is an excellent way of providing a credible and permanent record of your observation. The purpose of the Nevada Bird Records Committee (NBRC) is to archive all records of Nevada Review Species, for the long-term objective of determining patterns of occurrence and distribution of Nevada's avifauna. NBRC requests documentation for all observations of species on the Nevada Review List…
  • Nevada Wildlife Federation

    The Nevada Wildlife Federation (NvWF) is the oldest statewide conservation organization dedicated to sustaining Nevada’s natural resources for wildlife through conservation, preservation, and education.
  • Red Rock Audubon Society

    As a local Audubon organization, we are dedicated to the conservation of habitat for birds and other wildlife across southern Nevada.

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    The preserve is located at 350 E. Galleria Dr., near the intersection of Galleria Drive and Boulder Highway (look for signs in the medians). It is located within the Water Reclamation Facility and sits on approximately 140 acres. It is home to thousands of migratory waterfowl as well as numerous resident desert birds. There are nine ponds available for birding, surrounded by both paved and soft surfaces. The paved path is approximately 3/4 of a mile long and is accessible by wheelchair. The soft surfaces are mostly level and allow for easy walking. When you visit, expect to do a lot of walking and allow yourself adequate time to visit the area. We also recommend that you wear appropriate clothing and comfortable, sturdy shoes. Bring water, a hat, and wear sunscreen. If you do not have binoculars, we have some available for loan.
  • IBA Bilk Creek - Montana Mountains

    InformationSatellite View
    This large landscape on the Oregon border is centered around one of the highest density Greater Sage-Grouse populations in the country. As part of an extensive landscape area, the site contains numerous habitat types, but is primarily sagebrush and sagebrush-steppe. The Bilk Creek and Montana Mountains are the two prominent ranges within the boundary.
  • IBA Swan Lake Nature Study Area

    InformationSatellite View
    he Swan Lake Nature Study Area consists of over 1,800 acres (7 km2) of land, with water supplied by the nearby Reno/Stead Sewage Treatment Plant. The size of the actual wetland varies seasonally and yearly, depending on the amount of precipitation, between 100 and 1,000 acres (4 km2). he Lahontan Audubon Society describes it as "a nearly unspoiled wetland in the midst of suburban housing and warehouses" and designates it a Nevada Important Bird Area. It is a notable location for birding; over 150 species have been observed there.
  • NR Las Vegas Springs Preserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Springs Preserve is a hotspot for native wildlife. In addition to the live animal exhibits, we're also home to more than 250 species of native wildlife living in natural and restored habitats along our trails and pathways. As you explore the Springs Preserve, you’re likely to spot free roaming ground squirrels, lizards, insects and more!
  • NWR Anaho Island

    InformationSatellite View
    The Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge on Anaho Island in Pyramid Lake, Nevada.[1] The refuge was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 as a sanctuary for colonial nesting birds. It is home to one of the two largest colonies of pelicans—American white pelicans—in the western U.S. Other birds found on the island include California gulls, Caspian terns, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and snowy egrets.
  • NWR Ash Meadows

    WebpageSatellite View
    Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a biodiversity hot spot and a haven for rare plants and animals; an incredible story of survival for an ancient species of fish. It is the last remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert, and location of the famous Devils Hole. Stroll along beautiful boardwalks and walk in the footsteps of ancient peoples and pioneers.
  • NWR Desert National Wildlife Range

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    Golden eagles soaring overhead, rays of sunlight hitting rock shelters carved by time, bristlecone pines twisting toward the sky - these are just a sampling of what Desert National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) offers.
  • NWR Fallon

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    Fallon National Wildlife Refuge was established by a Congressional Act in 1931 to "...provide a sanctuary and breeding ground for birds and other wildlife".
  • NWR Moapa Valley

    InformationSatellite View
    The Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge (MVNWR) is a protected wildlife refuge administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, located in the Warm Springs Natural Area in the Moapa Valley of Clark County, Nevada. The refuge is east of Death Valley and 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • NWR Pahranagat

    WebpageSatellite View
    Few landscapes are as contrasting as Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge’s (NWR) lush wetlands and the surrounding Mojave Desert. Nourished by life-giving waters of Crystal and Ash Springs, Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge offers wetland and riparian habitats for thousands of migratory birds, numerous birds of prey, deer, reptiles, small mammals, and rare fish.
  • NWR Ruby Lake

    WebpageSatellite View
    Of special interest are the canvasback and redhead nesting areas in the prolific bulrush of the South Marsh, a natural depression at the south end of the refuge. This area has the highest canvasback nesting density of anywhere in North America. During the years of flood and drought extremes, breeding birds were forced to nest elsewhere and managers were concerned about their success with limited wetlands…
  • NWR Sheldon

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Refuge’s desert sagebrush-steppe ecosystem in Washoe and Humboldt Counties, Nevada and Lake County, Oregon. The Refuge was established in 1931 to: (1) provide habitat for pronghorn antelope, the primary species, and populations of native secondary species (e.g., mule deer, sage-grouse, and song birds) in such numbers as may be necessary to maintain a balanced wildlife population; (2) conserve listed endangered or threatened fish, wildlife, and plants; and (3) use as an inviolate migratory bird sanctuary.
  • NWR Stillwater

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Stillwater marshes were drying up. Home for thousands of years to thousands of migrating birds and northern Paiute Indians who were closely connected to rhythms of the local ecology, the marshes waters were being diverted by twentieth century agriculture, drying them out and threatening wetland life. This is an absorbing story of a group of conservationists ingenious solution - to have the refuge buy agricultural water rights…
  • Nevada National Wildlife Refuges

    InformationSatellite View
    Click-thru to individual pages…
  • WMA Humboldt

    InformationSatellite View
    The Humboldt Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a wildlife management area in the U.S. state of Nevada, encompassing the salt marshes at the terminus of the Humboldt River. Although resident populations of fish and other wildlife rise and fall according to the level of flow into the Humboldt WMA, the wetlands provide a valuable stopover for migratory and breeding bird populations. Ducks, such as mallards, Canada geese, and American coots are common, as are shorebirds such as the American avocet and raptors such as owls and hawks.
Sightings, News & Forums
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Bird Las Vegas

    Tours & Guiding
    Bird Las Vegas can tailor your tour to see the most species possible or we can help you find that one lifer you keep missing. Whether you’re new to the desert or a Las Vegas tourist looking for something different, Bird Las Vegas has a tour waiting for you.
  • The Wild Sights

    Tours & Guiding
    Whether you’re a new birder, worldwide lister or an avid photographer, we can create a custom birding/wildlife experience to meet your desired outcomes...
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [04 April] - Michel Watelet

    PDF Report
    ...For a long time, my desire was to go to Colorado to see some grouses displaying (Gunnison’s SG, Greater SG, Greater Prairie-Chicken and Sharp-tailed Grouse). I saw Lesser Prairie-Chicken before in New Mexico. Others targets were: Northern Pygmy-Owl, Easter Screech-owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Brown-capped and black Rosy-Finch. I’m very interesting by mammals also and the target was the Bobcat....
  • 2014 [09 September] - David Blair

    PDF Report
    ...After yesterday's poor result things started very promisingly with a skulking Le Conteh's Thrasher (Lifer for both) on top of some scrub about a mile from thecentre. This was to be the start of great morningsbirding. Drive into Corn Creek, Desert National WildlifeReserves about 30 miles north of Vegas went well withLe Conteh's Thrasher seen on the track in and then arun across Roadrunner seen by me but not by Sarah.No sooner parked up than we see Dark-eyed Junco and Black-chinned Hummingbird. Then we had three birds that were all lifers for Sarah, Western Tanager in all his glory, Phainopepla and Lazuli Bunting. As we took the short trail at the concrete pool we had a juvenile BC Night Heron, a Belted Kingfisher and a Bank Swallow. Onto the Bighorn Trail and Verdin were everywhere. I then heard a Greater Roadrunner which until this trip was a bit of a bogey bird, and this time we both saw it well...
  • 2016 [07 July] - Wilton Family

    PDF Report
    As is typical of a family holiday, birding time is at a premium and restricted. In general I would try and get an hours birding in first thing in the morning, before everyone gets up, and try and push for stops that suit birding along the way. ...
  • 2018 [05 May] - Dermot Hughes & Colin Reid - Southern California, Arizona and a small bit of Nevada

    PDF Report
    Two birders, Dermot (Mr H) from Belfast, Northern Ireland and myself from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. We had planned this trip for last year, but, due to an unforeseen accident, had had to put it off for twelve months. We’re both 63 and been friends for 50 years and have birded together on and off during that time. Mr H has a background in conservation and eco-consultation. I’m just a birder...
  • Jeff Hopkins - Desert Southwest

    PDF Report
    There were two targets that would have been completely new to me: California Condor and Sagebrush Sparrow. The former had only recently been declared countable by the ABA and could be seen on a quick overnight jaunt from Vegas. The latter was the result of a recent split of Sage Sparrow into Bell’s Sparrow - which I’d previously seen in California - and Sagebrush Sparrow which I never seen. In addition, there were a couple Mexican vagrants that I’d previously only seen in Latin America, that could be possible as new birds for me in the ABA region.
Places to Stay
  • Yerington Inn

    Nevada's state-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are home to many resident and migratory birds and mammals. Found throughout the state, the public can generally drive to a WMA in less than two hours from the major population centers and find great access to wildlife viewing...

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