The checklist of birds for White Sands National Monument lists 233 species, most of which inhabit the surrounding desert shrubland, the interdunal zones, playa lakes and the mesquite/creosote areas rather than the dunefield. Many species take temporary advantage of the vegetation (such as cottonwood, yucca, and sumac) that occurs on the sparsely vegetated dunes, and an occasional hawk or turkey vulture may be seen soaring over the heart of the dunes. The Chihuahuan raven can often be seen foraging in the picnic areas along the dune drive.
Many of the birds on the monument's list are listed as migratory or seasonal residents, so the average visitor may only have the opportunity to see just a small percentage of the listed species (only 33 are permanent residents). The Visitor Center area is usually the best place to observe birds, especially during the spring and summer.
Common permanent residents in the dune field proper, include: Chihuahuan raven, horned lark, mourning dove, roadrunner, black- throated sparrow, cactus wren, loggerhead shrike, Crissal thrasher, Say's phoebe, house finch, and western meadowlark.