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Nov 09

The Many Bird Species of the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is home to a myriad of ecosystems, making it an ideal vacation destination for plant and animal lovers. Each year, countless birding enthusiasts visit the area, hoping to glimpse a peek of the Grand Canyon’s 370 species1 of birds. From endangered California condors to easy to locate passerines, here is a list of must see birdwatching for your next Grand Canyon trip.

Small Species

Some of the smallest bird species are also the most beautiful, so keep an eye out for miniature marvels like the ones below.

– Allen’s Hummingbird: This adorable species of hummingbird is known for its bright orange and bronze plumage. It feeds primarily on nectar, and can therefore be found in desert scrub or forest environments with plenty of wildflowers.
– American Goldfinch: In summertime, you can find the American Goldfinch by its bright yellow and black markings. During winter, their features turn to a tawny brown. No matter the season, you will know this bird by his acrobatic behavior. When the goldfinch isn’t hopping from plant to plant, he and his brethren can be spotted flying in a bouncy, undulating pattern, complete with song.
– Bridled Titmouse: This adorably tiny bird originated in Mexico. The species is a rarity in the United States, living only in parts of New Mexico and Arizona. In the Grand Canyon, the Bridled Titmouse can be viewed along the Colorado River or in the woodlands near the North Rim.

Plentiful Passerines

Passerines, often called perching birds, are the largest group of bird species in the area. They are abundant in the Grand Canyon and easy to spot even if you’re a fledgling birdwatcher.

– Chipping Sparrow: Ample sparrow species can be seen in the Grand Canyon, including the Chipping Sparrow. This bird is typically spotted by the rust colored cap of feathers topping his brown body. These birds can build homes almost anywhere, birdwatchers have seen nests inside human shelters and even on top of telephone poles, so be on the lookout.
– Indigo Bunting: This bright blue bird is easy to spot against its favored forest habitat of brown and green shrubs. Sometimes nicknamed “blue canaries,” these birds whistle through the spring and summer months. Interestingly, their songs are learned from other buntings in the same flock, meaning a single song may remain unchanged through several generations, sometimes up to 20 years.
– Hooded Oriole: Colored with a bib of bright orange, the Hooded Oriole is native to the deserts of the southwest. They love to nest in palm trees, and feed their young with insects, nectar, and fruit.

Birds of Prey

The Grand Canyon is most known as one of the few places left on earth to view the endangered California Condor in the wild, but the park is home to other birds of prey, as well:

– California Condor: Known as one of the rarest birds in the world, the California Condor is also the largest land bird in North America. With a massive wingspan of nearly ten feet,2 it’s easy to spot a condor while he is soaring over the Grand Canyon. Though they do not build nests, the condor spends much of his time perched at roost sites made from cliffs or tall trees.
– Red Shouldered Hawk: This variety of hawk is one of the most distinctive, thanks to a banded tail and reddish chest feathers. The species calls rivers and wooded forests home, the perfect locale to feast on their typical diet of reptiles and rodents.
– American Kestrel: Compared to hawks and condors, kestrels are much smaller birds of prey. They are just as ferocious, however, snatching rodents and reptiles for food like larger hawks do. They build their nests in mountainous wooded areas, like the forests along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Each year, hundreds of tourists visit the Grand Canyon just to bird watch. With diverse terrain ranging from marshland to wooded forests, the park offers the chance to view a multitude of rare birds in their natural environment.

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