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Birds & Birding Regional Birder

This is regional birding information for:

Southwest & Texas
March 2017

North America has four distinct deserts, all located in the Southwest: The Great Basin desert, dominated by sagebrush, and colder than the others; the Mojave, in Nevada and California, where Death Valley is located; the Chihuahuan, in Texas and New Mexico, known for its century plants (agaves); and the Sonoran desert, the most beautiful of all, in Arizona and California, famous for its giant saguaro cactus.

There are also mountains in the Southwest, sometimes referred to as "islands in the sky." Yet, the overriding influence throughout the Southwest is its dryness. The lack of water affects the entire ecosystem. In fact, that's what makes it so different from any other region of the country.

Backyard Birds

The most common backyard birds in the Southwest include white-winged, mourning and Inca doves; gila and ladder-backed woodpeckers; cactus wren; great roadrunner; curved-billed thrasher; Mexican and pinyon jays; bridled titmouse; pygmy nuthatch; Anna's and black-chinned hummingbirds; spotted, Abert's, and green-tailed towhees; dark-eyed junco; western bluebird; black-headed grosbeak; western tanager; phainopepla; Gambel's and scaled quail; great-tailed grackle; Bullock's and Scott's orioles; house and Cassin's finches; and lesser goldfinch.

Regional Birds

Most of birds in the Southwest are those that have adapted to the arid climates of the deserts, canyons and mountains. The woodpeckers often excavate their nesting cavities in the trunks and arms of giant cacti. Elf owls also use those cavities to raise their young. There are several species of doves, thrashers, quail and orioles, and there are many hummingbirds. In fact, one canyon in southeast Arizona brags of recording 15 species of hummingbirds.

What's happening in your backyard this month
  • House finches are singing a lovely warbling song; juncos are twittering.
  • Northern flickers are calling flicka-flicka-flicka; mourning doves cooing.
  • European starlings are evicting woodpeckers from nesting cavities.
  • Hummingbirds are sipping sugar water at feeders; western scrub-jays eating peanuts.
What to do in your backyard this month
  • Put up hummingbird feeders, because the migration north is in full swing.
  • Offer nesting material of pet or human hair, short yarn, in suet cage feeders.
  • Create soil dusting areas for quail, doves and sparrows.
  • Plant aquatic vegetation in ponds and pools; plant red bedding plants for hummingbirds.