Arizona Birds

Birds are one of the best known species groups.  They are highly visible, and many species are easily identified.  Conservationists often refer to birds as indicators of general environmental conditions.  The ‘canary in the coal mine’ idea.  Recent information form the National Audubon Society suggests the canary may be sagging.

The knowledge of bird species distribution and trends in Arizona is good at state and county levels, but is not so good for smaller areas.  A critical need is for an expanded network of repeated observations.  Contributions to this blog can help.

The photograph shows a Belted Kingfisher studying a pond near the Agua Fria River in the Town of Dewey-Humboldt.


The canary in the coal mine was a primitive early warning system used by miners to alert themselves to poison gases seeping into the mines.  If the canary was found dead, it was time to get out quick.  As a metaphor, its significance for me includes not only the salvation of the humans, but also the casual loss of the canary, that fragile and innocent bird with its lovely song, sacrificed without a passing regret.

Gail Entrekin, Editor, Canary, A Journal of the Environmental Crisis published by Hip Pocket Press.

Monitoring makes use of species checklists.  In August 2011, the Arizona Bird Committee (ABC) published a statewide checklist of 547 species.  The list includes 303 species known to nest in Arizona, 172 review species that are uncommon, 64 identifiable subspecies, and 47 species that should be reported with confirming documentation including photographs and drawings when sighted.  The ABC website provides printable state and county checklists.  The link is in the Reference list below.

The U. S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website (website link given in References) provides 29 bird checklists for small areas around Arizona.  The lists include seasonal occurrence and other information.  Information about Arizona bird distributions is also presented on the WildBirds website owned by Thayer Birding Software.  Thayer provides access to commercial and free information including electronic field guides with songs and video.

Christmas Bird Count data show that many species are declining.  For instance, the number of Loggerhead Shrikes, a common species throughout Arizona, has declined by 72 percent since 1967.  American Bird Conservancy, Partners In Flight, Audubon Society, and others listed in the references provide information about bird conservation and protection needs.

Birds often seen near the Agua Fria River in Dewey-Humboldt, AZ are the Belted Kingfisher, Common Black Hawk, Great Blue Herons, and many species of ducks and other water birds.  Rarer species include the Crested Cara Cara, Crissal Thrasher, and Gila Woodpecker.  The link in the sidebar accesses some bird photos taken in Dewey-Humboldt.  There is at least one identification error.  See if you can spot it.



N. Am.*


AZ T&E***

10,000 (estimate)




*American Birding Assn., **Arizona Bird Committee, ***Threatened & Endangered

Bird References and Notes

Alderfer, J., Ed.  2006.  Complete Birds of North America.  National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.  696 p.

American Birding Association:

American Ornithologists’ Union:

ABC.  Arizona Bird Committee: Checklists:

Arizona Field Ornithologists:

American Bird Conservancy:

Audubon Society:

Brandt, F.  2001.  Birding the Flagstaff Area. Northern Arizona Audubon Society.  Flagstaff, AZ.

Corman, T.E., and C. Wise-Gervais.  2005.  Arizona breeding bird atlas.  University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.  636 p.

Gilmore, V. 2003.  Birding Sedona and the Verde Valley.  Northern Arizona Audubon Soc.  Flagstaff, AZ.

Partners in Flight:

Rosenberg, G.H., and D. Stejskal. 2002 (2nd Edition).  The Arizona bird committee’s field checklist of birds of Arizona.  Bird Committee, Tucson, AZ.

Sogge, M.K., D. Felley, D., and M. Wotawa.  1998.  Annotated species list and summary in riparian bird community ecology in the Grand Canyon-Final Report.  U. S. Geological Survey, Colorado Plateau Field Station, Northern Arizona Univ, Flagstaff, AZ.

Thayer Birding Software:

Tomoff, C.S.  2003 (3rd Edition).  Birds of Prescott, AZ:  Annotated checklist of the relative abundance and seasonal status of Prescott-area birds. Carl Tomoff Publications, Prescott, Arizona.

U. S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center:


Wingert, K.  1996.  Birds in and around Prescott and the Verde Valley.  The Left Hand Press, Prescott, AZ.  vii + 63 p.

Witzeman, J., S. Demaree and E Radke. 1997.  Birds of Phoenix and Maricopa County.  Maricopa Audubon Society, Phoenix, AZ.

3 thoughts on “Arizona Birds

  1. I have been watching two crows circling over my home for some time. Some times they will land on my tree’s but I would like to attract more what food should I put out to attract them

    Thank You


  2. Pingback: Wild Ducks

  3. Pingback: Barn Owls in the Agua Fria River Basin


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