Petrified Forest National Park Birds In Depth

Northern Harrier

Early morning on the shortgrass prairie, heard only by a passing coyote, a western meadowlark pours out its lovely, liquid melody. Travelers must stop as a mid-morning parade of scaled quail scurry across the road. In the heat of the day, a common raven greets hikers at the trailhead for Crystal Forest, panting as he eyes them greedily. As afternoon ages, a red-tail hawk spirals above the prairie dog town near Newspaper Rock. Evening brings a chorus of song from the house finches hiding in the Russian olives near the Visitor Center. In the wilderness night, a great horned owl passes on velveted wings, claws clutching a white-footed mouse.

Habitats Under Pressure

During the various parts of their life cycle (breeding, nesting, wintering, feeding, and migrating), birds need different areas and habitats with a variety of resources for food and shelter. Habitation degradation and loss due to changes in land-use and development have effected bird populations, with some species dropping to dangerously low levels, courting extinction. Like many national park areas, Petrified Forest National Park provides a unique place of protection and preservation. Here, birds can find food and shelter that may not be available in other regions on their journeys from habitat to habitat. Patches of healthy, undeveloped habitats are found in the modern fragmented landscape, connected by corridors such as Petrified Forest.

Ecological Monitor

Like the canary in the mine, birds gauge the health and safety of our environment. By watching birds, noting species, and the migration of species, we can understand the changes in our environment. Preservation and protection of healthy corridors such as Petrified Forest National Park provide food and shelter for a diversity of birds and other species. Birds are an ‘ecological litmus paper'. Because of their rapid metabolism and wide geographical range, they reflect changes in the environment quickly; they warn us of things out of balance sending out signals whenever there is a deterioration in the ecosystem... - Roger Tory Peterson Residents and Migrants Petrified Forest has a variety of habitats. Raptors, songbirds, and ground birds can be found in the grassland. The riparian corridor of Puerco River provides food and shelter for year-round residents as well as migrants such as warblers, vireos, avocets, killdeer, and others. The exotic and native trees and shrubs around the Visitor Center and Rainbow Forest Museum provide home for migrants and residents such as western tanagers, hermit warblers, and house finches. The park also offers sightings of vagrant shore birds and rare Eastern birds not seen often in Arizona. Rarities, such as black-throated blue warbler, have been found by Maricopa Audubon Society members. September and early October seem to be the best time to visit the area to see these fascinating vagrants. Common Raven The large black bird you see as you drive through the park is the common raven. Its shiny black body and brash character distinguish it from all other birds. The raven's deep varied calls and hawk-like habits have inspired myths in many cultures. Ravens are highly intelligent birds that uses every opportunity to ply visitors for a handout. Help us keep these creatures wild and healthy by not feeding them. Observe from a distance - that formidable beak can cause a painful bite.

Western Meadowlark

Before mating season, meadowlarks live in flocks that can include 75 individuals. During mating and nesting seasons however, they live in mated pairs. Their nests, made of fine dry grasses, are built on tussocks in grassy areas or even on bare ground. When fall arrives, meadowlarks fly as far south as Mexico for the winter. The song of the western meadowlark has been lauded by many as the bird's greatest charm. Anna's Hummingbird

Restricted to the southwestern part of the country the Anna's Hummingbird is one of the parks smallest residents. It feeds on nectar, fruit juice, tree sap, small insects and spiders, consuming up to two teaspoons a day. As it flies from plant to plant, listen for the high pitched hum of its wings. Like a helicopter, this little bird can hover and fly backward and forward. Golden Eagle Golden eagles are the largest raptors in the park. With a wing span up to 7 feet (2 m), it soars majestically over the grassland of Petrified Forest searching for a meal of small mammals such as rabbits, prairie dogs and ground squirrels. Like many birds, it takes advantage of carrion as a food source. Golden eagles are easily disturbed during nesting so view them from a distance.

Abridged Bird List for Petrified Forest National Park

R =

Residents found in the park 4 months of the year or more

M =

Migrants usually found twice a year during migration

O =

Occasionals or accidentals that have wandered from their normal range. Grebes

Least Grebe M

Western Grebe M

Pied-billed Grebe M

Eared Grebe M


American White Pelican M

Herons, Bitterns

Great Blue Heron M

Green Heron M

Snowy Egret M

Black Crowned Night Heron M

American Bittern M

Geese, Ducks

Canada Goose M

Mallard M

Northern Pintail M

Green-winged Teal M

Blue-winged Teal M

Cinnamon Teal M

American Wigeon M

Northern Shoveler M

Ring-necked Duck M

Bufflehead M

Ruddy Duck M


White-faced Ibis M

Vultures, Hawks, Eagles

Turkey Vulture M

Northern Goshawk M

Sharp-shinned Hawk M

Cooper's Hawk M

Red-tailed Hawk R

Swainson's Hawk M

Rough-legged Hawk M

Ferruginous Hawk R

Northern Harrier R

Merlin M

American Kestrel R

Prairie Falcon R

Osprey M

Golden Eagle R

Bald Eagle R

Peregrine Falcon M


Scaled Quail R

Rails, Coots

Virginia Rail M

Sora Rail M

American Coot M

Shorebirds, Gulls

American Avocet R

Mountain Plover M

Killdeer R

Long-billed Curlew O

Whimbrel O

Lesser Yellowlegs M

Spotted Sandpiper M

Baird's Sandpiper M

Least Sandpiper M

Western Sandpiper M

Willet M

Wilson's Phalarope M

Herring Gull O

Ring-billed Gull O

Franklin's gull O

Pigeons, Doves

Band-tailed Pigeon M

Mourning Dove R

Inca Dove O

Cuckoos, Roadrunners

Greater Roadrunner R


Western Screech Owl O

Great Horned Owl R

Burrowing Owl R

Long-eared Owl R

Short-eared Owl O Goatsuckers

Common Poor-will M

Common Nighthawk M

Swifts, Hummingbirds

Vaux's Swift M

White-throated Swift M

Anna's Hummingbird R

Broad-tailed Hummingbird R

Rufous Hummingbird R

Allen's Hummingbird R

Calliope Hummingbird R


Belted Kingfisher M Woodpeckers

Northern Flicker R

Acorn Woodpecker M

Lewis Woodpecker M

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker M

Williamson's Sapsucker M

Hairy Woodpecker M

Downy Woodpecker M

Ladder-backed Woodpecker M

Tyrant Flycatcher

Western Kingbird R

Cassin's Kingbird R

Black Phoebe M

Say's Phoebe R

Western Wood-peewee R

Olive-sided Flycatcher M

Vermilion Flycatcher O

N. Beardless-tyrannulet O

Hammond's Flycatcher R

Dusky Flycatcher R

Cordilleran Flycatcher R

Ash-throated Flycatcher R


Horned Lark R


Violet-green Swallow M

Tree Swallow M

Bank Swallow M

N. Rough-winged Swallow M

Barn Swallow M

Cliff Swallow R

Purple Martin M

Jays, Crows

Steller's Jay O

Scrub Jay M

Common Raven R

American Crow O

Pinyon Jay O

Clark's Nutcracker O

Titmouse, Bushtits

Mountain Chickadee M

Juniper Titmouse M

Bushtit M


White-breasted Nuthatch M

Red-breasted Nuthatch M

Pygmy Nuthatch M

Creepers, Wrens

Brown Creeper M

Bewick's Wren M

Marsh Wren M

Canyon Wren O

House Wren M

Rock Wren R

Mockingbird, Thrashers

Northern Mockingbird R

Gray Catbird O

Brown Thrasher O

Bendire's Thrasher R

Curve-billed Thrasher R

Sage Thrasher R

Thrushes, Bluebirds, Solitaires

American Robin M

Hermit Thrush M

Swainson's Thrush M

Western Bluebird M

Mountain Bluebird M

Townsend's Solitaire R

Gnatcatchers, Kinglets

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher M

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher M

Golden-crowned Kinglet M

Ruby-crowned Kinglet M

Pipits, Waxwings

Water Pipit M

Bohemian Waxwing M

Cedar Waxwing M

Silky Flycatchers

Phainopepla O


Loggerheaded Shrike R


European Starling R

Weaver Finches

House Sparrow R


Hutton's Vireo M

Plumbeous Vireo M

Warbling Vireo M

Gray Vireo M

Wood Warblers

Black-and-white Warbler M

Yellow Warbler M

Yellow-rumped Warbler M

Townsend's Warbler M

MacGillivray's Warbler M

Common Yellowthroat M

American Redstart O

Yellow-breasted Chat M

Wilson's Warbler M

Ovenbird M

Northern Waterthrush M

Red-faced Warbler O

Meadowlarks, Blackbirds,


Western Meadowlark R

Hooded Oriole O

Scott's Oriole O

Northern Oriole R

Brewer's Blackbird M

Brown-headed Cowbird R

Great-tailed Grackle M

Yellow-headed Blackbird M

Red-winged Blackbird M


Western Tanager R

Hepatic Tanager O

Summer Tanager O

Grosbeaks, Finches,

Sparrows, Buntings

Black-headed Grosbeak M

Blue Grosbeak R

Lazuli Bunting R

Painted Bunting O

Indigo Bunting O

Evening Bunting M

House Finch R

Pine Siskin M

American Goldfinch M

Cassin's Finch R

Lesser Goldfinch M

Red Crossbill O

Green-tailed Towhee M

Spotted Towhee M

California Towhee M

Lark Bunting M

Savannah Sparrow M

Baird's Sparrow M

Vesper Sparrow R

Lark Sparrow R

Rufous-crowned Sparrow M

Black-throated Sparrow R

Sage Sparrow R

Dark-eyed Junco M

Chipping Sparrow R

Brewer's Sparrow M

White-crowned Sparrow M

White-throated Sparrow M

Fox Sparrow M

Lincoln's Sparrow M

Song Sparrow R

Chestnut-collared Longspur O

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