New Mexico Birds: Passeriformes



Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

As LGBs (little gray birds) go, this is as little and as plain gray as you'll find. On a morning walk I saw a tight flock of them, constantly moving and chatting as they worked over a patch of Fourwing Saltbush. As they searched and fed on tiny insects they hung at odd angles, even upside down.

Corvidae (Crows and their allies)


Woodhouse's Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)


Canada Jay (formerly Gray Jay) (Perisoreus canadensis)

To see a YouTube video featuring these Canada Jays, click here.



Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)


House finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

House Finches are an extremely common bird in Albuquerque.

Hirundidae (Swallows)


Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)



Yellow-Breasted Chat (Icteria virens)

Laniidae (Shrikes)


Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)



Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)

For me a thrasher's call, more than any other, means that I'm living where I ought to live.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)


Orange-Crowned Warbler (Leiothlypis celata)

Orange-Crowned Warbler, Leiothlypis celata, New Mexico
Albuquerque, August 2020

According to the various guides, don't look for the orange crown to ID this one; usually that feature isn't visible. Instead, in the West, start by looking for a yellow bird with a fairly uniform back and a short, narrow beak. Eastern populations aren't this bright yellow.


American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Passerellidae (American Sparrows)


Green-Tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)

All of my photos are of the same bird, a very young adult. The mottled juvenile body plumage has given way to an adult's mostly bland body colors, but the adult white throat is present and and the rusty crest is on its way in. The green-yellow plumage areas that give this bird its name never dominate the plumage scheme. Once this bird flew into brush to escape my camera, it issued a characteristic catlike mew.


White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)


House (or English) Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

These are the descendants of immigrants, but so am I. Along with House Finches, they're the most common birds in my neighborhood.



Hermit Thrush (Cathartus guttatus)


American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

I'm calling certain robins in my photographs females because as of April each year, the previous year's chicks should be mature. Earlier in the calendar year, immature robins resemble the females.



Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

This one stands out a bit for its pale gray throat and chest, its buff belly, and its black tail. I first found it in my neighborhood. Once I started scouting open areas, I found it there as well. In town they perch fairly high up. In open areas it'll use any perch just off the ground; my June and July photos show a Say's Phoebe on a dead tumbleweed and on one of the strands of a barbed-wire fence.


Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

My ID is based in part on the pale gray head and breast, the yellow belly, and the narrow white edges to the tail. In June 2020 I encountered one waiting on a utility cable, facing into the breeze, until an insect flew into view. It then flew out, captured the morsel, and returned to the cable to await its next snack. In July 2020 I encountered a pair in a sycamore tree. Once they moved a bit, I caught one flexing its wing.