Did you know that over 400 species of birds have been observed at Bosque del Apache? With over 100 species of birds known to breed within the refuge, there is always something bird-related going on! Check out eBird for recent bird observations at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Note: Though summer and winter observations are highlighted below, spring and fall months can be unpredictable but rewarding times to visit as bird species move through Bosque del Apache on their way to their summer or winter homes!


Over 20 species of ducks and geese regularly spend part of their winters at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Seeds of grasses and sedges that have been growing all summer are the reward after migrating south for large numbers of northern pintail, northern shoveler, gadwall, and American wigeon. In summer, smaller numbers of Mexican duck, wood duck, and cinnamon teal may be found in the wetlands and ditches.


Bosque del Apache is home and rest-stop for a large variety of songbirds. Year-round residents include spotted towhee, black phoebe, greater roadrunner, and curve-billed thrasher. Winter brings song sparrow, western bluebird, and white-crowned sparrow. In summer, search for Bullock’s oriole, black-chinned hummingbird, and vermilion flycatcher.


As shorebirds navigate their journey north for the summer, wetlands at Bosque del Apache empty slowly, providing an appealing table of aquatic insects to feast upon. The majority of shorebirds are observed in April and May, though a few pass through during summer and fall months as they head for their winter homes.

Marsh Birds and Waders

Great blue herons may be observed year-round at Bosque del Apache – search for them along ditches and canals stalking fish and frogs. Their numbers swell in summer along with three species of white egrets – great, snowy, and cattle. Secretive marsh birds, such as American bittern, Virginia rail, and sora, are at home year-round in the reeds found along ditches and semi-permanent wetlands. Sandhill cranes are a winter visitor – typically from late October through late January.


Many raptors follow their food to Bosque del Apache (namely, ducks and geese) and are observed in winter. In winter, search for bald eagles, golden eagles, and red-tailed hawks, especially along the edges of wetlands. In summer, search for the stealthy northern harrier, Swainson’s hawk, and common black-hawk.

Game Birds

Year-round residents include a variety of game birds, such as ring-necked pheasant, Gambel’s quail, and mourning dove. In winter months, search for large flocks of wild turkey along the edges of fields. During summer, watch for lines of young quail scurrying for cover.