Known for its stunning desert landscapes, remarkable national monuments, and abundant wildlife, the title “Land of Enchantment” fits New Mexico to a T.
There are 549 recorded feathered species in New Mexico, making it the fourth most diverse state in the US regarding birdlife.
Since we won’t be able to list all 549 bird species in this post, we’ve opted for the next best thing: we cherry-picked some of the most magnificent birds in New Mexico you absolutely shouldn’t miss!
Red Birds in New Mexico
- Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
- Length: 5.1 – 5.5 inches
- Weight: 0.7 – 0.8 ounce
- Wingspan: 5 – 6 inches
Rosy red around the face and upper breast, House finches are among the most beautiful birds in New Mexico. They’re quite common in the northern part of the state and usually flock by the dozens in the winter.
Like most finches, the House finch fed on sunflower seeds and thistle. As such, they’re typically found at feeders and in high trees.
These gregarious creatures frequent backyards, city parks, farms, urban centers, and forest edges.
Originally, House finches were residents of Mexico and the southwestern United States but were introduced to the US when they were illegally captured and sold in New York during the 1940s.
As per the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors were forced to release the birds to avoid prosecution, thereby increasing their range.
- Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea
- Length: 9.8 – 11.8 inches
- Weight: 0.8 – 1.3 ounces
- Wingspan: 6.3 – 7.5 inches
Scarlet tanagers can be spotted throughout summer and winter in New Mexico. They’re enchantingly gorgeous with their deep red plumage and black wings, picture-perfect in almost every photo they’re in.
While relatively common in New Mexico, these midsize songbirds typically remain out of sight, hiding in leafy upper branches of oak-hickory forests as they forage.
Scarlet tanagers feed on berries and insects, including caterpillars, wasps, beetles, and many others. Although they don’t visit backyard feeders, you may spot them if you own several berry plants, including raspberries, juneberries, strawberries, serviceberries, and so forth.
- Scientific Name: Buteo lineatus
- Length: 17 – 24 inches
- Weight: 17 – 27.3 ounces
- Wingspan: 37 – 43.5 inches
Fierce and unforgiving, Red-shouldered hawks glide effortlessly in the air with a grace that any winged animal would be jealous of.
Red-shouldered hawks are the smaller cousins of Red-tailed hawks. They look quite similar: dark-and-white checkered wings with barred reddish underparts. Their tails are narrow and strongly banded with black and white.
These magnificent hawks are typically seen perched high on utility wires and tree branches. Their whistled kee-rah calls are loud and conspicuous, especially in spring.
Those actively searching for Red-shouldered hawks may find them in wooded stream sides and deciduous and mixed forests along rivers and swamps.
Like most hawks, Red-shouldered hawks have a diet that consists of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
- Scientific Name: Columbina talpacoti
- Length: 5.9 – 7 inches
- Weight: 1.7 ounces
- Wingspan: 11 inches
Ruddy ground-doves are some of the smallest and rarest doves in New Mexico, appearing mainly in the fall and often staying throughout the winter. Their distinctive bright ruddy plumage makes them quite easy to identify among all known doves in the state.
These monogamous birds are prolific breeders, capable of reproducing year-round. They can be spotted flying over grassland and savannah, as well as open woodland and suburban parks.
While they typically eat seeds of varying sizes, they won’t say no to the occasional snail or insect.
Ruddy ground-doves are quite aggressive with each other, often competing for food and territory. They strike each other hard with their wings until their opponent flies off or surrenders by lying on their side on the ground.
- Scientific Name: Cardellina rubrifrons
- Length: 5.5 inches
- Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 ounce
- Wingspan: 8.5 inches
Found in mountains and canyons populated by oak and pine, Red-faced warblers visit southern and central New Mexico during the summer and winter seasons.
Funnily enough, a group of Red-faced warblers is collectively known as an “embarrassment” of warblers, as their striking red faces make them look like they were blushing.
Red-faced warblers are typically found foraging in conifers and other trees with dense foliage, where various insects are plentiful. Their nests sit low on the ground in burrows or depressions, a risky choice considering their conspicuous colors.
Blue Birds in New Mexico
- Scientific Name: Sialia sialis
- Length: 6.3 – 8.3 inches
- Weight: 0.95 – 1.20 ounces
- Wingspan: 9.8 – 12.6 inches
Striking royal blue with bright orange breasts, Eastern bluebirds are one of the most common bluebirds in New Mexico. They have large eyes, rounded heads, and plump bodies and are often seen in field edges, golf courses, roads, and other open areas.
Eastern bluebirds don’t typically visit feeders unless they’re packed with mealworms. However, they’re great prospects for nesting boxes if your yard isn’t too hemmed in with trees.
While they mostly eat berries, wild fruit, and insects, Eastern bluebirds also target large prey if food sources are limited. This includes snakes, salamanders, lizards, and tree frogs
- Scientific Name: Sialia currucoides
- Length: 6.1 – 7.1 inches
- Weight: 0.85 – 1.31 ounces
- Wingspan: 11.0 – 14.2 inches
Mountain bluebirds look as if they came straight out of a Disney movie. Lithe and gentle, Mountain bluebirds are often seen perched in burned or cut-over areas and mountain meadows.
Male Mountain bluebirds are almost entirely powder-blue. Females are gray with tinges of electric blue in the wings and tail.
Compared to most other bluebirds, Mountain bluebirds are long-winged and lanky, like American kestrels.
They gather in large flocks during the winter, sometimes even by the hundreds. If their numbers are lacking, they sometimes fly with their bluebird cousins, particularly Western bluebirds.
Mountain bluebirds mostly feed on insects, primarily beetles, grasshoppers, ants, and caterpillars. During winter, they eat berries such as hackberries, juniper, and mistletoe.
- Scientific Name: Sialia mexicana
- Length: 6.3 – 7.5 inches
- Weight: 0.8 – 1.1 ounces
- Wingspan: 11.4 – 13.4 inches
Plump and fluffy, Western bluebirds are commonly spotted in New Mexico’s open parklands.
Male Westerns are electric-blue with rust-orange breasts and back. Females have mostly gray-buff plumage with pale orange breasts and blue-tinted tails and wings.
Western bluebirds are highly social and friendly, usually feeding in flocks with Mountain bluebirds during non-breeding seasons.
Like most bluebirds, they’re often found perching on utility lines and fences and foraging in deep coniferous forests, semi-open terrain, and farmlands.
Unfortunately, their numbers have steadily declined in New Mexico due to human intervention. However, outside New Mexico, they’re listed as a species of Least Concern as their population is steadily increasing as the years pass.
- Scientific Name: Porphyrio martinicus
- Length: 13.0 – 14.6 inches
- Weight: 7.2 – 10.3 ounces
- Wingspan: 21.6 – 22.1 inches
Purple gallinules are stunning waterbirds that are found all throughout the US, particularly in New Mexico. They’re big, noisy, and colorful, and their plumage is a gorgeous combination of purple, blue, and green.
Although they appear to be awkward fliers, Purple gallinules regularly migrate as far as Central America for the winter. They’re almost always found in or near freshwater.
Purple gallinules hunt like domestic chickens: they walk towards vegetation with outstretched necks and peck at their prey once spotted.
Since gallinules are omnivorous creatures, they eat a variety of animal and plant matter, primarily insects, frogs, and fish, as well as the leaves of aquatic and terrestrial plants.
Black-Throated Blue Warbler
- Scientific Name: Setophaga caerulescens
- Length: 4.3 – 5.1 inches
- Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 ounce
- Wingspan: 7.5 – 7.9 inches
Black-throated Blue warblers, specifically male Black-throated Blue warblers, have midnight blue plumage with sharp white bellies and black throats.
Females have plain, olive-brown bodies with faint blue tints on their wings and tail. They’re differentiated from other female warblers due to their distinctly square-shaped white wing markings.
These birds mostly prefer insects but won’t say no to seeds, fruits, berries, and flower nectar during winter. If you’re lucky, you can catch these beautiful birds drinking sugar water from hummingbird feeders.
- Scientific Name: Lampornis clemenciae
- Length: 4.5 – 4.9 inches
- Weight: 0.21 – 0.35 ounce
- Wingspan: 7 inches
Blue-throated Mountain Gems get their names from their sapphire-colored gorget.
They primarily feed on nectar taken from the brightly colored flowers of shrubs, herbs, epiphytes, and trees, favoring flowers with high sugar concentrations. More often than not, they’ll go out of their way to seek out and aggressively protect areas with high-energy nectar.
During summer, Blue-Throated Mountain Gems are seen in gardens, wood edges, and a variety of semi-open habitats such as clearings, city parks, and forest edges.
Green Birds in New Mexico
- Scientific Name: Amazilia beryllina
- Length: 3 – 4.25 inches
- Weight: 0.14 – 0.18 ounce
- Wingspan: 5.25 inches
Berylline hummingbirds are common visitors to New Mexico, typically found among sycamores in shady canyons, lower slopes of mountains, and open pine-oak woods. If you live in wooded mountain canyons and own several backyard feeders, they’ll sometimes visit to sip on sugar water.
Named after the sea-green gem beryl, these hummingbirds are predominantly metallic olive green—particularly around the head, nape, breast, and back. Their tails and wings are reddish-brown.
Due to their gorgeous color patterns, these birds are collectively called a “glittering” or “shimmer” of Berylline hummingbirds.
Occasionally, they eat insects and small spiders. Insects are often snatched off branches or leaves, caught in flight, or stolen from spider webs. Amazingly, a nesting female can capture more than 2,000 insects per day.
- Scientific Name: Colibri thalassinus
- Length: 3.8 – 4.7 inches
- Weight: 0.27 – 0.3 ounce
- Wingspan: 5 – 6 inches
Commonly found in forest clearings and edges, Mexican Violetears are dark metallic green with blue-violet breasts and cheeks. They were formerly called Green Violetears but were changed to Mexican Violetears in 2016 to separate them from Lesser Violetears.
Unlike most hummingbirds, Mexican Violetears are solitary creatures. That said, they won’t hesitate to attack when defending a feeding territory.
Although their seasonal movements aren’t well understood, Mexican Violetears are greatly nomadic.
- Scientific Name: Chloroceryle americana
- Length: 7.9 inches
- Weight: 1.0 – 1.4 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 inches
Green kingfishers have a range that extends from Texas to New Mexico in the US. They’re easily identified by their dark glossy green upperparts, bold white collars, and broad chestnut breasts.
These kingfishers are quite funny-looking but charming nonetheless. They have disproportionately long bills, not unlike that of a heron, and sparrow-like bodies.
Green kingfishers usually live along rivers, streams, and ponds, perched low near the water among vegetation. They fly low over the water when moving downstream, rapidly flapping their wings.
As you may have guessed, Green kingfishers mainly feed on small fish like minnows, freshwater crayfish, small crabs, and tadpoles. They also eat the occasional aquatic insect.
- Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris
- Length: 2.8 – 3.5 inches
- Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 ounce
- Wingspan: 3 – 4 inches
In New Mexico, Ruby-throated hummingbirds are classified as rare non-breeding vagrants, so you’re quite lucky if you spot them flying about!
These hummingbirds are astonishingly beautiful, with bright emerald backs and crowns, ruby-red throats, and white collars. Like Mexican Violetears, they’re solitary in nature and are aggressive towards other hummingbirds.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are most active during the day. On particularly cold nights, they may enter a state called hypothermic torpor to survive periods of extreme cold and reduced food availability, conserving their energy and heat when temperatures drop.
Orange Birds in New Mexico
- Scientific Name: Scolopax minor
- Length: 9.8 – 12.2 inches
- Weight: 4.1 – 9.8 ounces
- Wingspan: 16.5 – 18.9 inches
Plump, short-necked, and short-legged, the American woodcock’s orange-mottled plumage brilliantly camouflages them against leaf litter on forest floors. Paired with their low-profile behavior, American woodcocks are hard to spot in seasons other than springtime at dusk or dawn.
Colloquially referred to as Bogsuckers, Hokumpokes, and Timberdoodles, American woodcocks are popular game birds in the US, with about 540,000 killed annually by some 130,000 hunters across several states. Fortunately, these birds are considered stable and safe to hunt, further exacerbated by their migratory nature.
American woodcocks are often found in wooded or shrubby areas, particularly near open fields. Their extremely long bills help them probe the ground for earthworms and similar insects such as beetles, crane flies, snails, spiders, and other invertebrates.
During spring and summer nights, these birds perform a glamorous “sky dance” in a high, twisting flight that consists of varying chips, twitters, and bubbling sounds
- Scientific Name: Icterus pustulatus
- Length: 7.87 inches
- Weight: 2.47 – 3 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 – 13.5 inches
Streak-backed orioles are largely found in New Mexico and parts of Central America. Their natural habitat primarily consists of grassland, woodland, shrubland, savanna, and other areas with a strong presence of mimosa.
These birds have strikingly tangerine plumage. They’re almost entirely covered in deep orange except for the black streaks on their wings, back, and face.
Streak-backed orioles are seasonally monogamous, except for one possible case recorded in 1999.
They’re often described as having mild, non-confrontational attitudes. When faced with Black-vented orioles, Streak-backed orioles behave submissively and back away without much of a fight.
Interestingly, they appear to have a particular distaste toward wintering Bullock’s orioles and will consistently win confrontations against them. Researchers have yet to understand why.
- Scientific Name: Setophaga fusca
- Length: 4.3 – 5.1 inches
- Weight: 0.28 – 0.46 ounce
- Wingspan: 7.9 – 8.7 inches
Blackburnian warblers are quite the sight to behold. Male Blackburnian warblers have vivid orange faces and intricate black-and-white plumage. Females have grayish cheeks and faintly orange throats.
If you live in New Mexico and have a backyard filled with trees, you might attract several Blackburnians in summer or during their migration. Occasionally, they’d come down the trees to visit a water dripper or birdbath.
- Scientific Name: Ixoreus naevius
- Length: 7.9 – 10.2 inches
- Weight: 2.3 – 3.5 ounces
- Wingspan: 13 – 17 inches
Varied thrushes are the only species in the monotypic genus Ixoreus, making them as unique as they are beautiful. These birds have rich burnt-orange breasts and bellies with slate-gray backs and patterned orange-and-black wings.
They’re about the size and weight of a robin and look quite similar, with their large, rounded heads, long legs, and straight bills. They’re also quite plump in the belly and have relatively short tails.
Varied thrushes mainly eat insects and other arthropods, but they occasionally feast on tasty fruits and nuts. They’re often seen in humid evergreen and mixed forests during the summer and move into dense gardens, backyards, and parks during the winter.
The chances of seeing Varied thrushes in your backyard increase if you grow native fruiting shrubs and ground feeders filled with their favorite seed.
- Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius
- Length: 8 – 11 inches
- Weight: 2.7 – 3 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 – 16 inches
American robins are among the most well-loved songbirds. Many believe that they symbolize hope, rebirth, and new beginnings.
In New Mexico, American robins appear in flocks during spring. Due to their social behavior, American robins are naturally attracted to areas that people frequent, including lawns, farmland, towns, and cities.
These migratory songbirds are easily identified by their warm orange chests, yellow bills, and perky vocalizations. Like most songbirds, they have relatively round bodies and long legs and tails.
When it comes to their diet, American robins are far from picky. They eat anything from insects to berries, including snails, spiders, and other invertebrates.
That said, about 60% of their diet consists of fruit. In early summer, American robins mostly feed on insects and earthworms.
Yellow Birds in New Mexico
- Scientific Name: Protonotaria citrea
- Length: 5 inches
- Weight: 0.44 ounce
- Wingspan: 8.75 inches
Prothonotary warblers, also known as Swamp warblers in the southeast, are small passerine birds that are almost entirely yellow except for their blue-gray wings.
They eat mainly insects and insect larvae, although nectar and fruit are just as seasonally important. They also eat snails and mollusks.
These birds commonly breed in wooded swamps, lakes, and flooded bottom forests. Setting up a nesting box may attract a breeding pair of Prothonotaries if you live near forested wetlands or water.
Prothonotary warblers place their nests in preexisting holes made by chickadees and woodpeckers, making them one of two warbler species that primarily build their nests inside standing dead trees.
- Scientific Name: Tyrannus crassirostris
- Length: 9.5 inches
- Weight: 1.97 ounces
- Wingspan: 16 inches
Thick-billed kingbirds are among the largest flycatcher species in New Mexico. They’re mostly grayish-brown, with pale yellow bellies and white necks.
These kingbirds are often described as brash and noisy. Their calls are incredibly loud and can be heard from miles away, echoing through the canyons.
You’ll find them in lowlands and lower canyons where cottonwoods and sycamores are plentiful.
Surprisingly, we don’t know much about their diet. However, ornithologists believe they almost exclusively feed on insects, as they’re often seen eating cicadas and large beetles.
Thick-billed kingbirds are quite aggressive, fearlessly attacking raptors and birds straying near or around their territories. A coronation of Thick-billed kingbirds can be deadly as they won’t stop attacking until the “threat” has surrendered.
- Scientific Name: Pheucticus chrysopeplus
- Length: 7 – 8 inches
- Weight: 1.9 – 2.6 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 – 14 inches
Commonly found in bushy woodlands and tropical forests and edges, Yellow grosbeaks are medium-sized birds native to Mexico. Their plumage is brilliant golden yellow with bold white, black, or gray contrasts.
Apart from their beautifully bright plumage, these birds are identified by their thick, conical bills, neck, and chest.
Yellow grosbeaks mainly feed on seeds, fruits, and berries. Although they aren’t frequent visitors, they’ll occasionally stop at backyard feeders to munch on sunflower seeds during the winter.
Other Birds To Watch For in New Mexico
- Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis
- Length: 5.5 – 6.3 inches
- Weight: 0.6 – 1.1 ounces
- Wingspan: 7.1 – 9.8 inches
Dark-eyed juncos are among the most common backyard birds of New Mexico, totaling approximately 25% of all known bird visits.
These birds are dark gray or brown with white outer tail feathers.
Flocks of juncos can be found in conifer forests, mixed woods, suburban yards, and woodland edges. They usually feed on the ground, hopping around the bases of shrubs and trees in forests in search of falling fruit, seeds, and insects.
- Scientific Name: Mniotilta varia
- Length: 4.3 – 5.1 inches
- Weight: 0.28 – 0.53 ounce
- Wingspan: 7.1 – 8.7 inches
Black-and-White warblers are boldly striped in black and white. They’re like zebras but in warbler form!
Like most warblers, Black-and-White warblers feed on insects and larvae found in coniferous and deciduous trees. Although tiny, they’re extremely sharp and unforgiving and often spend hours searching entire branches from base to tip to ensure no insect is left alive.
Black-and-White warblers are often found in mixed hardwood-evergreen forests and large tracts of hardwood with shrubby understories. They breed in large, undisturbed areas, typically in birch, beech, maple, and spruce forests.
If you’re an out-of-state birdwatcher searching for new adventures, consider visiting New Mexico! Apart from its staggering snow-capped mountains and diverse heritage, New Mexico has a vast birdlife population.
If you’re keen to know more about bird life in the United States, check out our list of 25 amazing bird species in Georgia!