New Mexico Birds: Charadriiformes


Birds are organized alphabetically by family, genus, and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Charadriidae: Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

When a possible predator approaches a killdeer's nest, the bird will pretend to be injured (therefore an easy meal) as it lures the threat away from its nest. Courtship triggers other forms of posturing. My photos show both behaviors.


Laridae: Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Albuquerque's winter population of ring-billed gulls (the next bird below) often includes a few examples of other species. So far, my attempts to photograph those local oddballs have netted only immature examples of herring gulls. The species winters in parts of New Mexico and passes through the rest of the state while migrating.


Laridae: Ring-Billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

The best place to see these winter visitors to Albuquerque is on the Rio Grande just south of the old and new Alameda Bridges. My photos include "first winter" ring-billed gulls, which have some splotchy brown on the wings and tail and a bill that looks pinker than those of fully adult gulls.


Recurvirostridae: Black-Necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

Given its black and white plumage, a distinctive shorebird at any distance.


Recurvirostridae: American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)


Scolopacidae: Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)


Scolopacidae: Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)


Scolopacidae: Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)

These tiny birds breed in the Arctic, then fly south as far as South America. Some winter in southern New Mexico. In the Albuquerque area, they're usually just passing through.


Scolopacidae: Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

When a Wilson's snipe sits still, its plumage makes for highly effective camouflage. It may draw your attention by bobbing up and down as it hunts in the mud next to a stream or irrigation drain. The long beak allows it to probe deep into the mud for food.


Scolopacidae: Long-Billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)

The breeding area for long-billed curlews includes the northeast corner of New Mexico. In Albuquerque, they're just migrating through.


Scolopacidae: Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

In my initial photos of this bird, you may notice that two of the birds are more colorful than the other two. The more colorful ones are females, the plainer ones males.


Scolopacidae: Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

One distinguishing trait of the greater yellowlegs (as opposed to the lesser ditto) is a beak that is much longer than the head and that looks slightly upturned at the end.


Scolopacidae: Willet (Tringa semipalmata)

Willets don't summer or winter in New Mexico, but they pass through on their way to and from their breeding grounds.


Scolopacidae: Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)

As my Sibley guide admits, the Solitary Sandpiper "resembles a miniature yellowlegs." Note how this bird's upper half is darker, but with obvious white spots, and how the white eye ring stands out in the darker head.