State of New Mexico

Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus ©Boris Krylov
Birding New Mexico

New Mexico is the forgotten gem amongst the southwestern US states. Most people are unaware that New Mexico is a state in the US and not a region of Mexico. In fact only a small part of the southwest borders Mexico. New Mexico is famous as one of four states (Colorado, Utah and Arizona being the others); which have the corners of its borders meet at one point, this is known as the Four Corners region. It is probably better known as the state associated with the Roswell incident, and numerous UFO sightings.

But what of the birds I hear you say, well New Mexico has recorded the fourth highest species count (after Texas, California and Arizona) in the whole of the mainland USA, with approximately 500 species seen. Whilst a considerable area of New Mexico is of desert-like habitat, it is surrounded by mountain ranges that rise to over 13,000ft. In fact the average altitude in New Mexico is 5700ft, so be prepared for a few breathless moments if you seeking out the higher altitude specialities. One of the rules of thumb for finding birds in New Mexico is search for the water. Throughout the State there are numerous reservoirs, rivers and irrigation projects, which act like magnets to the birds.

The tail end of the Rockies meanders through the State leaving big mountain ranges around Sante Fe and Albuquerque. The latter area is the site of the spring (Sandia’s) and autumn (Manzano’s) Hawkwatch schemes, where thousands of raptors are annually counted whilst on migration. The mountains also act as funnel for passerine migrants.

South of Albuquerque is the world famous Bosque del Apache wildlife reserve. It is most famous for its tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes during the winter, though has something to offer throughout the year. But birding New Mexico is more than Bosque del Apache, for example the southwest of the state has birds more often associated with Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The new guidebook to finding birds in New Mexico is a must for any visitors.

New Mexico is a big state with a lot to offer the birder throughout the year. Whilst sunshine is never far away it does get cold in winter and very warm during the summer months. So when visiting New Mexico be prepared for a wide diversity of scenery, big blue skies and some awesome birding.

  • David Grant

    Ayr, Scotland |

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 545

    (As at December 2018)

    State Bird - Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Arizona & New Mexico Birds

    | By Kurt Radamaker & Gregory Kennedy | Lone Pine Publishing | 2007 | Paperback | 176 pages, colour illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9789768200280 Buy this book from
  • Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico

    | By Judy Liddell & Barbara Hussey | exas A & M University Press | 2011 | Paperback | 203 pages, 41 colour photos, 11 b/w maps | ISBN: 9781603444262 Buy this book from
  • Birding Hot Spots of Santa Fe, Taos, & Northern New Mexico

    | By Judy Liddell & Barbara Hussey | Texas A & M University Press | 2015 | Paperback | 283 pages, 63 colour photos, 13 b/w maps | ISBN: 9781623492540 Buy this book from
  • Birds of New Mexico Field Guide

    | By Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2021 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 384 pages, colour photos, distribution maps | ISBN: 9781647551964 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Southwest

    | (Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California & 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
  • New Mexico Bird Finding Guide

    | By W H Howe et al | New Mexico Ornithological Society | 2021 | Edition 4 | Paperback | 404 pages, colour photos, b/w illustrations, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781977226617 Buy this book from
  • New Mexico Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

    | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2002 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781583551875 Buy this book from
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • Festival of the Cranes

    “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune” - Theodore Roosevelt. As the cottonwoods turn gold in the bosque and the calls of the sandhill cranes once again echo across the marsh, we are reminded of the glorious wildlife heritage that President Roosevelt wrote about. Thanks to his foresight and the hard work of countless citizens, we get to revel in that heritage here in New Mexico at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Also see the Facebook page.
  • Gila River Festival

    Established in 2005, the Gila River Festival is an annual event that celebrates New Mexico's last free-flowing river and its important role as the centerpiece in our region’s natural and cultural heritage. The festival provides a diversity of opportunities for participants to experience and learn about the natural and cultural history of the area through the arts, humanities and natural sciences. The festival is designed to foster a deeper understanding of the Gila River as we explore annual program themes through expert-led field trips and workshops, lectures by scientists, authors, historians, and conservationists, and programming in the visual and performing arts, film, music, and dance.
Museums & Universities
  • Museum of Southwestern Biology

    The Division of Birds maintains a research collection of over 40,000 birds, with global coverage. The largest holdings are from the American Southwest and the Andes Mountains. All avian orders, ~80% of families, and 25% of species are represented. A comprehensive synoptic collection of the birds of New Mexico is heavily used by students, artists, and birdwatchers. Specimens of threatened, endangered and extinct species provide an irreplaceable historic record. The collection grows by ~2000 birds per year, thanks to a dedicated collections staff aided by a cadre of students. Our faculty, staff, and students are also dedicated to integrative ornithological research and teaching.
  • Audubon New Mexico

    Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. Our goal is to be the expert in bird and wildlife conservation and nature education in New Mexico with a strong and sustainably-funded network throughout the state to influence conservation outcomes.
  • Central New Mexico Audubon Society

    Our mission: To appreciate, experience, and conserve birds, other wildlife and their habitats; and to encourage and support environmental education in New Mexico. We try to attract as many new and excited individuals to our organization as possible! We strive to be not only a leader in the New Mexico birdwatching community but also an avenue to express your ideas and concerns about the environment in a productive way. So whether you just want to get out birding, or you want to devote time and energy to making New Mexico a better place for wildlife and nature lovers this is the place for you!
  • Friends of Bitter Lake NWR

    Facebook Page
    ue to the increase of visitors to this marvelous site, over 44,000 people last year alone, we feel that in order to accommodate more in the future we need to make access to this facility an even more enjoyable experience. The Friends will assist with conservation projects, scientific studies, community outreach, tours, facility development, and many other activities…
  • Friends of Bosque de Apache NWR

    We support Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and promote appreciation and conservation of wildlife and habitat.
  • Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center

    The Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center is a non-profit 50l(c)3 organization that supports the Nature Center's mission to preserve and protect the Rio Grande bosque, to educate the public about Rio Grande ecosystems and to foster positive human interactions with those systems
  • Lincoln County Bird Club

    Facebook Page
    The Lincoln County Bird Club is an organization of people whoenjoy birds and nature and want to learn more about birds andthe environment. We have regular field trips of varying lengthsand social activities. We also sponsor regular communityactivities that promote the health of the environment andcreate public environmental awareness.
  • Mesilla Valley Audubon Society

    The Mesilla Valley Audubon Society (MVAS) is a chapter of the National Audubon Society. MVAS is a conservation and natural history organization based in southern New Mexico. Our objectives are to promote appreciation and conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through environmental education, issue advocacy and natural history experiences.
  • Nature Conservancy in New Mexico

    The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. For 40 years, we have been working in New Mexico to do just that. We're working to keep The Land of Enchantment the place you love to live, work and play. Join us!
  • New Mexico Bird Records Committee

    The NMBRC was established with five broad purposes in mind: 1) to solicit and maintain documentation of records of birds from New Mexico; 2) to evaluate and validate such records; 3) to publicize data on records decisions; 4) to establish standards of observation and reporting that would allow sight records to gain acceptance as valuable scientific data; and 5) to keep or cause to keep the official New Mexico State Checklist of accepted bird species.
  • New Mexico Ornithological Society

    The New Mexico Ornithological Society (NMOS) is a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to gathering and disseminating accurate information concerning the bird life of New Mexico; promoting interest in and appreciation of the value of birds, both aesthetic and economic; supporting effective conservation of the state’s avifauna; facilitating opportunities for acquaintance and fellowship among those interested in birds and nature; and issuing publications as a means of furthering these ends.
  • New Mexico Wildlife Association

    Wildlife West Nature Park is a 122 acre, hands-on environmental education center. It features plants and animals indigenous to the Southwest as well as their habitats. Wildlife West is also a renewable energy project incorporating recycled building materials in its buildings and habitat constructions. Wildlife West employs alternative energy production designs. As Wildlife West develops and grows, these alternative production designs will allow for the park to become self-sustaining in its energy consumption.
  • Sangre de Cristo Audubon Society

    We are a recognized chapter of the National Audubon Society. Our membership region covers most of north-central New Mexico from roughly Placitas north to Raton and Taos. We take our name from the Sangre de Cristo mountain range which extends from Colorado to just south of Santa Fe. The Sangres form the western horizon for the eastern portion of our area and form the eastern horizon of the Rio Grande Valley in the central portion of the area.
  • Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society

    The Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society serves communities in four counties; Silver City, Deming, Lordsburg, Glenwood, Cliff, Reserve, the Mimbres Valley, and the Gila National Forest. Monthly Programs, Field Trips, Annual Bird Counts, Education, Conservation, Regional Habitat, and Audubon Membership

Abbreviations Key

  • IBA Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex is composed of the Belen, Casa Colorada, Bernardo, and La Joya Waterfowl Areas. La Joya Waterfowl Area contains ponds, canals and ditches for wintering waterfowl. Grass and brushy stands harbor quail, dove and songbirds. Purchases began in 1928 and continued through 1940, bringing the total to 3550 acres. Waterfowl hunting is permitted during open season, and fishing is open in the summer. Bird watching is yearlong entertainment. La Joya has no recreational facilities.
  • IBA NM Lesser-Prairie Chicken Complex

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Complex in eastern New Mexico encompasses over 2 million acres, including a number of properties managed specifically for prairie-chickens. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish owns 29 properties designated as ?Prairie Chicken Wildlife Areas? covering over 23,000 acres, as well as the 5,000-acre Sandhills Prairie Conservation Area. The Bureau of Land Management recently established the 57,000-acre Lesser-Prairie Chicken Area of Critical Environmental Concern and has closed an additional 163,000 acres to new oil and gas leasing. The Nature Conservancy?s Milnesand Prairie Preserve protects 18,500 acres of prairie-chicken habitat.
  • NC Randall Davey Audubon Center

    WebpageSatellite View
    Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary encompasses 135 acres of striking landscapes and wildlife. Bounded by thousands of acres of National Forest and Santa Fe River Watershed land, the Center and Sanctuary provides a peaceful sanctuary for plants, animals and our visitors. Ranging from common to rare, approximately 190 species of birds can be found in or over the various ecosystems of this sanctuary.
  • NP Carlsbad Caverns National Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus, and desert wildlife—treasures above the ground in the Chihuahuan Desert. Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves—formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes.
  • NP Valles Caldera

    WebpageSatellite View
    Valles Caldera is home to the second largest elk population in New Mexico. Other popular residents include Gunnison prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, black bears, Eastern mountain bluebirds, and golden eagles.
  • NP White Sands National Monument

    WebpageSatellite View
    There are over 220 recorded species of birds within White Sands National Monument. High temperatures during the day, especially in summer months, make it unlikely that you will come across these creatures in the heart of the dunefield. However, many of these species are commonly seen in the desert scrub around the visitor center and entrance station. Learn more about the birds of White Sands by downloading our PDF or peruse the information below.
  • NWR Bitter Lake

    WebpageSatellite View
    The refuge protects and provides habitat for some of New Mexico's most rare and unusual creatures such as the least shrew, Noel's amphipod, least tern, Pecos sunflower, and Roswell spring snail. Located where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Southern Plains, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the more biologically significant wetland areas of the Pecos River watershed system. Established in 1937 to provide wintering habitat for migratory birds, the refuge plays a crucial role in the conservation of wetlands in the desert Southwest.
  • NWR Bosque del Apache

    WebpageSatellite View
    Situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl. The refuge is well known for the tens of thousands of cranes, geese, and ducks who winter here each year.
  • NWR Grulla

    WebpageSatellite View
    The central focal point of the Grulla National Wildlife Refuge is an ephemeral salt lake or saline playa – a shallow basin that collects runoff from the surrounding drainage area during heavy downpours but then often dries completely due to evaporation. This playa lake has been known by various names. Current USGS topographic maps and most commercially available maps of this region refer to this saline playa simply as "Salt Lake".
  • NWR Las Vegas

    InformationSatellite View
    With the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Great Plains to the east, and the Chihuahuan Desert to the south, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a diversity of habitats. Located along the Central Flyway, the Refuge provides an important resting, feeding, and wintering area for migrating geese, ducks, and cranes.
  • NWR Maxwell

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, located in the high central plains of northeastern New Mexico, was established in 1965 as a feeding and resting area for migratory birds. Over 350 acres (1.4 km2) of the refuge are planted with wheat, corn, barley, and alfalfa to provide food for resident and migratory wildlife. Visitors may see bald and golden eagles, falcons, hawks, sandhill cranes, ducks, white pelicans, burrowing owls, great horned owls, black-tailed prairie dogs, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, cougars, muskrats, badgers, bobcats, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and the occasional elk.
  • NWR San Andres

    WebpageSatellite View
    San Andres National Wildlife Refuge is a protected hidden gem within the deep canyons and steep peak crevices of the San Andres Mountain range. Located in south central New Mexico, just east of the City of Las Cruces; most lifelong Las Crucens do not know of the refuge's existence!
  • NWR Sevilleta

    WebpageSatellite View
    The refuge is unique in that it was set aside “to preserve and enhance the integrity and the natural character of the ecosystems of the property by creating a wildlife refuge managed as nearly as possible in its natural state.” Thus the refuge is not managed for specific wildlife species but to allow natural processes such as flood and fire to prevail.
  • NWR Valle de Oro

    WebpageSatellite View
    Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, the Southwest’s first urban wildlife refuge, serves as an urban oasis for both wildlife and people.
  • New Mexico National Forests

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The state of New Mexico has 5 National Forests - the Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe National Forest.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Bird Treks

    Tour Operator
    Bird Treks has been providing small group and custom birding tours for over 20 years. Visit their website to see the incredible tours available, including the Sandia Mountains for all three Rosy-Finches!
  • Wezil Walraven Bird Tours

    I have been birding for 41 years. My favorite clients are those who are interested in birds, watching them and even learning about their behavior, not just checking birds off a life list. I enjoy people and want to have fun while birding. As a bird watcher since 1972, I have acquired a broad knowledge of birds, birdsong, habitat and behavior. One of the things I enjoy most about taking people out birding is teaching my clients how to identify birds and how to recall their song. We were in Asheville, NC for 5 years, and Bisbee, AZ 10 years before that. Currently we are house hunting in New Mexico.
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [03 March] - Charles Spagnoli

    …At the beginning of March, 2014, I set up a trip to Albuquerque to catch the Sandia Crest rosy-finches before the season ended. Two years earlier I had been in Albuquerque for a business trip and had spent my one morning free for birding driving up to see the rosy-finches, only to find I was two weeks too late, so I was looking to redeem the experience this year….
  • 2015 [11 November] - Zoothera Birding

    PDF Report
  • 2017 [01 January] - Barry Zimmer

    PDF Report
    We arrived at Percha Dam State Park around 10 AM having already had a stellar morning. The drive from Las Cruces had produced several good birds including wonderful scope studies of Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon, fields of Sandhill Cranes, and a close Greater Roadrunner among others. We had barely made it out of the cars when a Red-naped Sapsucker was spotted working somenearby pines. While enjoying prolonged scope studies of the sapsucker, a Phainopepla flew in overhead, and several Western Bluebirds appeared in a nearby mistletoe-laden tree.
  • 2017 [12 December] - David Karr

    PDF Report
    I joined my Houston-based friends, Emma and David for a weekend’s birding in northern New Mexico with the principal aim of seeing the three North American Rosy-Finches. We met up at the airport at Albuquerque on 2 December and drove north to our privately-booked accommodation near to Santa Fe.
  • 2018 [01 January] - Barry Zimmer

    PDF Report
    As we pulled into the driveway of my house, we were greeted by an adult male Hooded Oriole on a front yard hummingbird feeder (before we could even get out of the van!). This species is quite rare here in winter, but I had four that had settled in for the season. We enjoyed great views of this orange and black beauty, and then headed to the upper deck patio to view the backyard.
  • 2021 [12 December] - Dave Mehlman

    PDF Report
    ...A large flock of geese in one of the ponds allowed a nice chance to see the differences between Cackling and Canada Goose, both of which were present at very close distance. The nature center feeders provided close looks at numerous White-crowned Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds, along with intermittently visiting Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Spotted Towhees....
  • 2022 [12 December] - Dave Mehlman

    PDF Report
    ...The front pond at the Nature Center had a nice-sized flock of Cackling Geese, with a few larger and longernecked Canada Geese mixed in, providing a nice comparison. The back pond, by the visitor center itself, was full of ducks including Wood Ducks, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, and a few Green-winged Teal in the back. The seed feeders scattered about the Nature Center offered great views of Red-winged Blackbirds (oddly, almost all female-type) and White-crowned Sparrows, with a few Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Spotted Towhees thrown in....
  • 2023 [05 May] - Anders Bacher Nielsen

    PDF Report
    Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California An intense search for regional specialties in 5 US States
Other Links
  • New Mexico Birding

    Website has been established to provide those interested in birding in New Mexico with information to assist them in making their birding time more fun and productive
  • Southern New Mexico Birds & Birding Sites

    There are more than 368 species at the Bosque del Apache alone. Other area birds include: Warblers, Sparrows, Qual, Thrashers, Flycatchers, Bluebirds, Tanagers, Owls, Whip-Poor-Wills, Cranes, Hawks, Eagles, Terns, Sandpipers, Curlews, Ducks, Roadrunners, Grebes, Pelicans, Hummingbirds, Quail, Coots, Snow Geese, Cormorants, Jays, Chickadees, Juncos, Siskins, Osprey, and Vultures.
  • Judy Liddell - It's a Bird Thing

    a passionate birder from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I became interested in birds in 2002 when a friend placed a seed bell and suet cake in the tree outside of my bedroom window as I was recuperating from having both knees replaced. At first I just enjoyed the noisy chatter. Pretty soon I became interested in figuring out who these new friends were. The day I spotted a Curved-bill Thrasher hanging on the suet feeder, I was excited. A couple of months later, a Northern Flicker perched on my neighbor’s roof. When I looked at him through my binoculars and saw the beautiful coloring, I was thoroughly hooked.
  • Kenneth Cox - Northern Wings

    Last updated December 2017 - Over the years I have birded extensively in the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest regions of the U. S. and volunteer considerable time as a citizen scientist to field survey projects conducted by the U. S. Geological Survey, Vermont Center for Ecological Studies and local Audubon chapter. When not enjoying our beloved Green Mountain State, my wife and I spend as much time as possible at our second home, La Querencia, in west-central New Mexico exploring the fauna, flora and natural wonders of the Land of Enchantment.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Marcus G. Martin

    The goals of photobirder are to provide the birding community with free access to photographs of the birds of the world, and to sell images, slides, greeting cards and prints for the personal or commercial use of the general public

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