Birds of the Desert

by candy47

So many different types of birds call the desert their home. I enjoy watching and photographing them...

I relocated to the Arizona desert in 2013 in an area that some might describe as the middle of nowhere, but Las Vegas, Nevada is only an hour drive. When I'm sitting on my deck at the back of the house, I feel that I am in the middle of nowhere and I love it.

I can see Joshua trees, cactus and mountains for miles, clear and unobstructed. The best part is when the animals come around and the birds, so many birds! It's a joy to watch them all.

I've tried to capture photos of all the wildlife and this article is a composition of the birds in the desert.

All Photos by Candy Dorsey © 2016 All Rights Reserved Do Not Copy or Remove

 

Information Source:  Cornell Lab of Ornithology

White-Crowned Sparrow

A beautiful sounding songbird, the White-Crowned Sparrow lives year-round in this part of the country and can be seen hopping along the ground seeking safety in low bushes and shrubs.

 

 

Black-Throated Sparrow

This was a rare opportunity to see a Black-Throated Sparrow, they've been here for about a week. A small bird with gray and brown upper body, white under body a black bib, white tipped tailfeathers and a white stripe above and below their eyes. They like to spend winters in the Southwest and Mexico.

White-Crowned Sparrow
White-Crowned Sparrow
Black-Throated Sparrow
Black-Throated Sparrow

Birds Who Steal Things!

Cactus Wren and House Finch - Both Caught in the Act

Cactus Wren

Here is a Cactus Wren caught in the act of stealing cat food probably for building a nest. He flew away with the food in his beak then returned for more.

 

Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren

House Finch

I know it's impossible to identify from this picture, but this is a female House Finch. She is destroying the window screen on my house by shredding it and probably using it to build a nest somewhere. As if there aren't enough twigs and branches in the desert for her to gather. The arrow is pointing to shredded screen clenched in her beak. My screen is ruined!

Finch Shredding Screen
Finch Shredding Screen

The Quail Family

Dan, Marilyn, Tucker, Ben and Corinne
The Quail Family
The Quail Family

Gambel's Quail

Rarely in flight the Gambel's Quail walk or run to their destination. When they do fly it's very short distances with their wings flapping furiously. The male quail's face is black as seen here, the female is light gray. The male has an orange band on his head and a large black spot on his underbelly, the female does not have that coloration. Both male and female have a crest protruding from their head.  They always travel in pairs, male and female, with the same partner for life.  Sometimes I'll see one running around in circles making a lot of noise until their mate joins them.

They Can Run But They Don't Fly...Much
Gambel's Quail - Male
Gambel's Quail - Male

Great Horned Owl

Of all the birds that I've seen in the desert, the Great Horned Owl is my favorite in sheer beauty. I was able to capture photos of an adult and a baby in a nest. These pictures were taken in the daytime, I always thought that owls only came out at night.

Adult Owl
Adult Owl
Baby Owl in Nest
Baby Owl in Nest

Great Horned Owl

Reusable Shopping Bag

Mourning Doves

Delicate in Flight

Usually the Mourning Doves line up on the telephone wires making a coo-cooing sound while waiting for me to put out their birdseed. When they are in flight their wings and tailfeathers appear to be scalloped. It's a pretty sight.

 

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves
Mourning Doves

Meet the Finches

Beautiful Colors

Black-headed Grosbeak

A member of the Finch family, Black-Headed Grosbeak sightings are rare in the desert. Their bright yellow underbelly makes them easy to spot.  Although they dine on birdseed and bugs, they are one of few types of bird that can safely eat the poisonous Monarch Butterfly. For that reason, the Black-Headed Grosbeak flies to Mexico in the winter where they find an abundance of Monarchs.

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 Also a member of the Finch family, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak breeds from Canada to as far south as Georgia and in the winter months can be seen on the west coast of the United States while on the way to Central and South America. I was really lucky to see this one!

Black-Headed Grosbeak
Black-Headed Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

House Finch

At the feeder

I have a few very small feeders to attract the smaller birds.  On this day I noticed a House Finch snacking on the seeds.  The males have a muted red bib and red in their tailfeathers while the females are all gray.  This one is a male.

House Finch at the Feeder
House Finch at the Feeder

Northern Flicker

Woodpecker Family

A large brown bird of the Woodpecker family, the Northern Flicker can sometimes be seen and heard in a Joshua tree tapping into the bark to attract a mate. More often though they can be seen perched on my deck tapping into the wood rail!

 

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker

You'll Want to Feed Your Feathered Friends

A Nice Place for Birds to Dine!
Perky-Pet 50144 Deluxe Chalet Cedar F...
$24.99  $19.97
Perky-Pet 305 Holly Berry Gilded Chal...
$25.81  $8.74
Kaytee Feeder Pole and Hangers, 5-Feet
$200.00  $28.56

This was the first and last time that I saw two Ladderback Woodpeckers together!

Ladderback Woodpeckers
Ladderback Woodpeckers

Roadrunner

Beep Beep

Also known as chaparral birds, I've seen roadrunners plenty of times but they run so fast (up to 20 mph) I'm not always able to get a picture. The timing was right on this occasion although brief.

House Sparrow

This was my first time spotting one of these, it's a House Sparrow. It's a small but stocky bird with a black throat and brown stripes on his head. He stopped by for a bite to eat then took off never to be seen again, at least not in my yard. I'm glad I was there for a quick glimpse.

Roadrunner
Roadrunner
House Sparrow
House Sparrow

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Updated: 09/16/2016, candy47
 
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candy47 on 07/07/2016

Gotta love the roadrunners!

MBC on 07/07/2016

Most of the birds you mention there are here in Colorado too, except for the Roadrunner.

candy47 on 07/06/2016

Thanks Mira! The roadrunners don't come along too often, and they're so fast!

Mira on 07/06/2016

The roadrunner is so funny :) I think I've seen it before but enjoyed seeing it again :) I now remembered it's in Looney Tunes too :).

Fun page! I love birds but they don't like city life in Bucharest much :) Once you get out of the city though, to churches with nicely kept grounds, you begin to see all kinds of birds. Thank you for a nice, inspiring page!

candy47 on 07/06/2016

Thanks Lorelei. I love watching the birds and getting photos. No parrots have come by yet though!

candy47 on 07/06/2016

Thank you Susan. I'm so glad you like the pictures, I enjoy photographing the birds!

Lorelei on 07/05/2016

My mom thought the grossbeaks were parrots when they stopped by in their migration. She had never seen them before and would not believe that they were not parrots lol. Your photo reminded me of this. Love your pictures.

Susan on 07/05/2016

I love birdwatching. These are great pictures! Here in Arkansas we have many of the same species. Our quail, though, are Bob White quail which look a bit different from your family. Love their names! :)

candy47 on 03/02/2016

Thanks BarbRad. I'm not good at identifying birds either, that's why I use Cornell University Ornithology Department!! They have all the answers and an easy to understand website.

BarbRad on 03/02/2016

I'm not a desert person because I can't take the heat, but I'm glad you photographed all these birds for me to see. I have trouble identifying birds, and this should help.


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