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35 Most Common Birds of Nevada (That You Can Spot)

Birds of Nevada

The birds of Nevada include majestic birds like the Golden Eagle, the cute Verdin, other desert species, and many more!

There are a lot of birds in Nevada, 493 bird species in total! This wealth of birds live in deserts, shrubby habitats, lakes, montane forest, and other avian-rich habitats in this big state.

How many birds in Nevada have you seen? We bet you’ve see a lot but how many were you able to identify?

This list of the most common backyard and wild birds in Nevada will help!


Most Common Birds of Nevada

Birds occur in every corner of Nevada, more than most people realize. They are attracted to any source of water, gardens, and many other habitats but which are the most common species?

Related: Nevada State Bird – Mountain Bluebird

To make an accurate list of the most common birds of Nevada, we researched eBird data from 2022 to 2023. Based on sightings in eBird, we arranged bird species from the most common to the least common.

PS! Species on the bottom of the list are common birds too! Birds like the Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Cowbird, Spotted Towhee, Cooper’s Hawk, Western Tanager, Black-chinned Hummingbird, and White-breasted Nuthatch can often be seen, but they might not have the highest numbers or stay in Nevada year-round.

To help identify these common birds of Nevada, we also included information about their behavior and field marks.


Most Common Birds in Nevada

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Scientific name: Branta canadensis

Length: 35 – 45.2 inches
Weight: 5.29 – 19.8 pounds
Wingspan: 50 – 67 inches
uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!

The Canada Goose is a large, grayish-brown bird with a long black neck, and black head with a white throat and cheeks. Males and females look alike and have pale barring, a white belly and undertail, and a short black and white tail.

They have strong direct flight and make deep flaps with long, broad wings.

Canada Geese feed on grass, sedges, and other vegetation, grain, and berries. They forage by walking along and grazing, or picking food from the ground and bushes. This species also feeds by dipping its head below the surface of shallow water.

This large goose uses grass and other plants to make a large, shallow cup nest on a small mound or other elevated spot next to water.

The Canada Goose prefers open grassy areas and farm fields near water where it can feed and see predators before they get too close. They live in Alaska, most of Canada, and most of the USA, being one of the most common birds of Nevada.

Key Identifications:

  • Big, gray-brown goose with a long black neck, and black and white head.
  • Grazes vegetation and forages for berries in wide open, grassy habitats near water like golf courses, parks, and airports.
  • Makes a shallow, open cup nest on an elevated spot next to water.
  • Vocal and often makes honking calls, “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”.

Canada Geese are a large, common goose species with long black necks, and a black and white head. These big birds are a common sight on golf courses and other places that combine open lawns and water. When the Canada Goose and other birds migrate in “V” formation, they expend less energy than flying on their own.



Mallard pair

Mallard pair (Male and female)

Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos

Length: 23 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 35 inches
quack, quack

The Mallard is a fairly large, familiar duck. The male has a metallic green head, yellow bill, narrow white ring around the neck, and chestnut breast. The rest of the bird is pale gray with pale brown, and black on its back and around his tail.

Female Mallards are mottled brown and buff with a dark crown and line through the eyes, and have a dark gray and orange beak.

In flight, both sexes show a green-blue wing patch bordered with white.

Mallards eat a variety of items including insect larvae, snails, other small aquatic creatures, acorns, seeds, and grain. They forage by filtering and picking up food items in and near shallow water, and in farm fields.

This Nevada duck species makes a shallow nest with sticks and lined with down feathers. It builds its nest on the ground, hidden in grass or under a bush.

The Mallard lives in ponds, marshes, and many wetland habitats in Canada, USA, and Eurasia.

Key Identifications:

  • Feeds on insect larvae, grain, seeds, and other items picked up with its bill in and near shallow water.
  • Makes a shallow stick nest hidden in grass or under a bush.
  • The female Mallard makes the classic “quack, quack” duck sound. Males make similar but softer sounds and a whistling call.

The Mallard is a fairly large and familiar duck with a dark green head (the male), or is buff and brown with a dark gray and orange beak (the female). Thus duck species often lives near people and occurs on lakes, ponds, and other wetlands. No matter how different they look, most small domestic duck species are descended from wild Mallards.


Ruddy Duck

Male Ruddy Duck

Scientific name: Oxyura jamaicensis

Length: 15 inches
Weight: 1.2 pounds
Wingspan: 18.5 inches
chip tick tikituh rhenh

The Ruddy Duck is a small diving duck with a pointed tail. Breeding males are chestnut, have a blue beak, and white cheeks. They also have a black cap and black on the back of their neck.

From September to March, the male’s chestnut plumage is replaced by brown-gray coloration.

Female Ruddy Ducks are brown-gray, have a dark beak, dark cap, and a dark line on their pale face.

In flight, they have a bit of white on their underwings, and some white on their belly.

Ruddy Ducks dive for crustaceans and other small creatures. They also eat aquatic insects and take some vegetation and seeds. They usually occur in pairs but small groups can flock together during the winter.

The Ruddy Duck mostly nests in dense marsh vegetation of shallow wetlands in western and central North America. It winters in shallow coastal waters, lakes, and other wetlands in western and southern North America south to Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Small diving duck with a pointed tail, dark cap, and white on its face.
  • Pairs and small flocks dive beneath shallow water to feed on crustaceans and other small creatures.
  • They build a bowl-shaped nest in dense wetland vegetation.
  • Usually quiet but when displaying, males make a staccato vocalization, “chip tick tikituh rhenh””. Females make squeaking and nasal sounds.

The Ruddy Duck is a small, dark, big-headed diving duck with a pointed tail, and white cheeks (the male), or a dark line on a pale face (the female). This duck dives in shallow wetlands, lakes, reservoirs, and coastal waters. Ruddy Ducks lay large eggs, the biggest eggs relative to their size for any duck species.


Gambel’s Quail

gambels quail

Scientific name: Callipepla gambelii

Length: 10 inches
Weight: 6 ounces
Wingspan: 14 inches
ruh rah raha, ruh rah raha

The Gambel’s Quail is a blue-gray quail with a buff belly and a prominent black plume on the front of its head. The male has a black throat with a pale white border, black patch on its belly, and a chestnut cap.

Both sexes have chestnut flanks with white markings but females have a smaller head plume, lack the chestnut cap, and don’t have black on their throats or belly.

This quail occurs in small groups and feeds on seeds, bits of vegetation, and fruits, especially cactus fruit. They mostly forage by walking, scratching on the ground, and picking up food items. This species is also regular at water features and feeders.

The Gambel’s Quail nests by making a shallow scrape on the ground and lining it with bits of vegetation. It usually makes and hides its nest under a cactus or other desert vegetation.

This species lives in deserts of the American southwest and northwestern Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Small, beautiful blue-gray quail of desert habitats with a dark plume on the front of its head.
  • Coveys forage for seeds, vegetation, and cactus fruits on and near the ground.
  • Makes a scrape nest on the ground, usually hidden beneath a cactus.
  • Makes clucking and loud calls, especially a rising “raahh!”. It also makes a multi-noted vocalization, “ruh rah raha, ruh rah raha”.

The Gambel’s Quail is a beautifully patterned, blue-gray quail of southwestern deserts. Coveys forage on the ground and are frequent visitors to water features and feeders. After wet winter weather, Gambel’s Quails take advantage of the sudden burst of plant growth and lay more eggs.


Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon

Scientific name: Columba livia

Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 9 ounces
Wingspan: 28 inches
tititik grewh

The Rock Pigeon is the familiar and common “pigeon” of cities, farms, and other urban situations. Although this pigeon can show a variety of plumages, the most frequent one is pale gray with dark gray on the head and neck, and a dark gray tail with a dark tip.

It also has iridescent green on its neck and two black wing bars.

This species has quick and direct flight with rapidly beating wings.

Rock Pigeons usually occur in flocks and large ones can form in farm fields and some urban areas. They pick seeds and grain from the ground, mostly in open areas like farm fields, parks, and city streets.

The Rock Pigeon uses sticks and other stick-like objects to make a shallow nest on covered ledges of buildings and other structures.

Rock Pigeons are completely adapted to living with people and occur in urban and farming areas in most parts of North America, including Nevada.

Key Identifications:

  • Familiar gray pigeon with dark tip at the end of its tail and two black wing bars.
  • Picks seeds and grain from the ground of streets, fields, and other open habitats.
  • Makes messy stick nests on ledges with overhanging structures.
  • Makes a gruffy vocalization, “tititik grewh”.

This species is the common and familiar city pigeon. Rock Pigeons are darker than other doves and feed on the ground in farm fields and streets. Truly wild Rock Pigeons are shy and only live on remote cliffs in Europe and Asia.


Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove identification

© Alan D. Wilson

Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto

Length: 13 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
Wingspan: 22 inches
hoo hoo hoowuh hoo WUH hoowuh hoo WUH!

The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a medium to large, pale tan and gray dove with a black mark on its nape. Males and females look similar, have a slender black beak, and a narrow gray eyering.

Eurasian Collared-Doves have black primaries and white in their tail feathers. These field marks are especially visible in flight.

These doves feed on grain and seeds picked from the ground and they can also visit feeders. In some places, Eurasian Collared-Doves occur in large flocks, especially around farms and grain silos.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove makes messy stick nests in trees and on structures near people. This species is highly adapted to living with and near people and prefers to feed in farm fields, gardens, towns, and other places where they can find grain and seeds.

This Eurasian species was accidentally introduced to North America in the 1970s and 1980s. It now occurs in parts of Alaska and much of Canada and the USA, including Nevada.

Key Identifications:

  • Fairly large, pale tan and gray dove with black primaries and white in its longish tail.
  • Forages for grain and seeds on the ground.
  • Makes messy stick nests in gardens, parks, and on farms.
  • This dove species often calls and makes a typical dove-like sound, “hoo hoo hoowuh hoo WUH hoowuh hoo WUH!”.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a fair-sized pale tan and gray dove with much white in its longish tail. These birds can probably only survive near people and live in gardens, towns, and on farms. When drinking water, this species uses its beak like a straw.


Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Scientific name: Zenaida macroura

Length: 12 inches
Weight: 4.2 ounces
Wingspan: 18 inches
hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”

Mourning Doves are medium-sized, grayish-brown doves with long tails. They have small black spots on their wings and a small head with a slender, dark beak.

Males and females also have narrow gray eyerings, a black mark on the face, and pale iridescent gold on the sides of their necks. They look alike except for males having more gray on the head and neck, and more iridescence.

This dove has fairly long wings and swift, direct flight. When flying, it shows black and white in its tail.

The Mourning Dove occurs in woodlands, gardens, on farms, and in urban areas. This common feeder visitor eats seeds and grains. It also forages in open situations, picking food from the ground.

This pleasant dove species can visit a feeder on its own or forage in small flocks. It builds an unkempt stick nest in bushes and trees and is very common throughout the USA, southern Canada, and Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Plain brown and gray dove with a long, pointed tail.
  • Feeds on seeds at feeders and on the ground in open areas.
  • Makes a small, messy nest of sticks in trees.
  • Sings a sad and owl-like “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”.

The Mourning Dove is the common garden dove in most of its range. It often visits feeders and its cooing song is commonly mistake for an owl. This species has a short lifespan with many adults only living for a couple of years or less.


Anna’s Hummingbird

Annas Hummingbird

Scientific name: Calypte anna

Length: 4 inches
Weight: .15 ounces
Wingspan: 5.25 inches
zree zree zee zree

The Anna’s Hummingbird is a small bird with a needle-like beak, green back, and green underparts with some gray markings. The male has glittering dark pink on his crown and throat while the female lacks these colors. Instead, she has small green spots on her throat and has some black and white in her tail.

Both sexes have a small white spot behind each eye.

Like other hummingbird species, the Anna’s Hummingbird feeds on nectar from flowers and also catches tiny insects in flight. It feeds from a variety of flowering bushes and other plants and visits hummingbird feeders.

This species makes a tiny cup nest out of spider webs and soft vegetation. It builds its nest in a variety of trees, bushes, and vines.

The Anna’s Hummingbird lives in brushy habitats and gardens from southern British Columbia to Arizona. Most birds are permanent residents but some winter in northwestern Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Small green hummingbird with a straight beak, grayish-green underparts, and white spot behind the eye. The male has dark pink on his head and throat.
  • Feeds on small flying insects and nectar.
  • Makes a small cup nest out of spider webs and soft vegetation.
  • Makes dry and scratchy sounds, “zree zree zee zree”.

The Anna’s Hummingbird is a small gray-green hummingbird of gardens and brushy habitats on the Pacific coast. They feed on insects and nectar and often visit feeders. Urban gardens have helped this species expand north from California to Washington and British Columbia.


American Coot

American coot

Scientific name: Fulica americana

Length: 15.5 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Wingspan: 24 inches
reah reah rik rik cluck cluck cluck

The American Coot is a blackish, duck-like bird with reddish eyes, and small dark marks near the tip of its stubby, chalky white beak. Males and females look the same and have short tails with a bit of white, and greenish-yellow legs with semi-webbed toes.

In flight, this species shows a narrow white line on the trailing part of its rounded wings. Young birds are like adults but are more dull grayish overall.

American Coots feed on aquatic plants and small aquatic insects. They can also forage on land for corn and other types of grain but mostly pick vegetation from the surface of water while floating. Like ducks, they also dip below the water to feed.

This species uses aquatic plants to make a floating nest in marsh vegetation. That’s why it is one of the most common birds of Nevada.

American Coots live on lakes, ponds, and shallow marsh habitats in many parts of Canada and the USA south to the Caribbean and Central America.

Key Identifications:

  • Duck-sized blackish aquatic bird with a stubby white beak.
  • Feeds on aquatic plants, grain, some insects, and some small aquatic creatures.
  • Makes a floating nest from marsh vegetation.
  • A vocal bird that makes lots of odd growling and clucking sounds, “reah reah rik rik cluck cluck cluck”.

The American Coot is a dark, duck-like aquatic bird with a stubby white beak. It feeds on aquatic vegetation and insects in lakes, marshes, and other shallow water habitats. When coots fly, they run on the water while quickly flapping their wings to become airborne.




Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus

Length: 10.5 inches
Weight: 3.3 ounces
Wingspan: 24 inches
tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”

The Killdeer is a fair-sized, slender plover that is dark brown above and white below. They have two black bands on their breast, a patterned, black, white, and dark brown face, and a longish, orange tail.

Both sexes look alike and also have a slender, black bill, narrow, red-orange eyerings, and long, pale legs. In flight, we can see a white stripe in each of their long, dark wings, and a black tip on their long, wedge-shaped, orange tail.

Killdeers often fly high overhead in fast, direct flight but we usually see them foraging on the ground. They pick insects, other small creatures, and seeds from the edges of wetlands and other, open grassy areas.

This species lays its camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields. When people and pets approach too close, they give loud calls and pretend to have a broken wing.

The Killdeer lives in large parts of Canada, the USA, Mexico and also Nevada.

Key Identifications:

  • Fair-sized plover with two black breast bands and a wedge-shaped orange tail with a black tip.
  • Picks seeds and small creatures from open ground.
  • Lays camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields.
  • Very vocal and sounds like it says its name, “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”.

The Killdeer is the most common and familiar shorebird in much of its range and occurs in many open habitats. It is the only plover in North America with two black breast bands and has a longish, orange tail with a black tip. To scare cows near their nests, Killdeers fluff themselves to look bigger, raise their tail over their head, and run at the large animal.


Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Scientific name: Ardea herodias 

Length: 46 inches
 5.3 pounds
72 inches
Grunk! Grunk!”

The Great Blue Heron is a large, gray and pale brown heron with a long neck and legs. It has a strong, yellowish beak, black and white head with a wispy black crest, and rufous thighs.

Both sexes are alike and have pale bellies and black flanks. Juveniles have streaked underparts.

In flight, they make slow, deep flaps with long, broad gray and black wings. In Southern Florida and the Caribbean, Great Blue Herons are all white and sometimes considered a separate species, the “Great White Heron”.

These powerful herons feed on fish and small animals such as rats, snakes, and birds.

Great Blue Herons build messy, stick nests and breed in colonies, often in swamps.

We find these impressive birds in and near a wide variety of wetlands in large parts of Canada, the USA, and the Caribbean.

Key Identifications:

  • Huge gray and pale brown wading bird with a thick, yellowish beak and a wispy crest. In southern Florida, it is all white but still has a crest and a strong yellowish beak.
  • Stalks and preys on fish and small animals.
  • Builds messy stick nests and breeds in colonies.
  • Great Blue Herons aren’t all that vocal. When taking flight they make a croaking sound, “Grunk! Grunk!“.

The Great Blue Heron occurs on rivers, lakes, and many other wetlands. It stands still for long periods of time while waiting for prey to come within range of its sharp beak but is also, often seen in flight. In some parts of Florida, Great Blue Herons have a gray and brown body and a white neck and head. These birds are known as, “Wurdemann’s Heron”.


Double-crested Cormorant

double-crested cormorant

Scientific name: Nannopterum auritum

Length: 33 inches
Weight: 3.7 pounds
Wingspan: 52 inches

The Double-crested Cormorant is a big, glossy black bird with a long, thick neck. Males and females look alike and also have a medium-length beak with a sharp, hooked tip, an orange throat patch, and a bit of orange on the face.

Double-crested Cormorants have a short, wispy crest, green eyes, broad tail, and big webbed feet. They use their long wings to flap and glide with direct flight between feeding and roosting areas.

This highly aquatic species feeds on fish. It catches its food by diving, swimming beneath the water and then snatching a fish with its beak. It eats the fish while perched above the water.

The Double-crested Cormorant breeds in colonies and makes a messy stick nest in a tree on an island or above the water. We see this bird in parts of central and southern Canada, in much of the USA, and parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Key Identifications:

  • Big, nearly goose-sized black bird with a long, thick neck, and a medium-length narrow beak with a small, hooked tip. It also has a rectangular, orange throat patch.
  • Forages by floating and then diving beneath the water. Swims underwater to catch fish with its beak.
  • Breeds in colonies and constructs a messy stick nest in trees on islands, or over water.
  • Double-crested Cormorants aren’t very vocal. They make some low, guttural, pig-like sounds at their breeding colonies, “groak”.

The Double-crested Cormorant is a large, black bird with a long, thick neck and an orange throat patch. It often occurs in flocks that frequent lakes, rivers, and other wetlands. When it comes to fish, this species is not a picky eater; it has been documented eating more than 250 species.


Red-tailed Hawk

red-tailed-hawk in flight from back

Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis

Length: 19 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 49 inches

The Red-tailed Hawk is a large and chunky raptor with a broad, orange or reddish tail. Males and females look alike although females are larger.

These raptors are dark brown above and are pale below with dark markings on their belly. Young birds are more streaked on their underparts, and have brown tails with dark barring.

Red-tailed Hawks often soar and have long, broad wings that can show pale square patches on the bases of their primaries. While soaring, they watch for squirrels and other small animals that they feed on.

When they spot prey, these big birds drop down to catch it with their talons. This hawk also hunts by watching for prey from a perch.

The Red-tailed Hawk builds a large, bulky, stick nest high in trees. They thrive in a wide variety of habitats but especially in woodlands near fields and other open habitats.

This raptor lives from Alaska and Canada south to Central America.

Key Identifications:

  • Large, bulky hawk with a broad, reddish tail.
  • Catches squirrels, rats, pigeons, and many other small animals on the ground.
  • Nests in large, bulky nests made of sticks.
  • A vocal raptor, Red-tailed Hawks often call in flight. They usually give a “classic” but quiet sounding raptor scream, “Kreeeyahh!”.

Red-tailed Hawks are large dark brown and pale hawks with broad, reddish tails. The most common raptor in many areas, they often perch on powerline poles along roads. The Red-tailed Hawk’s vision is eight times better than a person’s; they can spot a tiny rodent while soaring 100 feet above it.


Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker is Alabama state bird

Scientific name: Colaptes auratus

Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Wingspan: 20 inches

Northern Flickers are fairly large, tan and gray woodpeckers with barring on their backs. They have a black mark on their breast, black spotting below, and a dark, stout beak.

Males in the east have a tawny throat and face with a black moustache and small red spot on the back of their heads. Males in the west have mostly gray heads with a red moustache.

Female Northern Flickers look like males but lack the moustache mark.

In bounding flight, they have white rumps and flash color on their underwings. This is bright yellow in eastern birds and reddish in flickers west of the Rocky Mountains.

This woodpecker eats many ants and other insects that it catches on the ground. It forages by flying to the ground, locating anthills, and lapping them up with its long tongue.

Northern Flickers nest in tree cavities and live in wooded and open habitats in Canada, the USA, and Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Tan and gray woodpecker with black barring above, black marks below, and a bright, white rump.
  • Forages for ants and other insects on the ground.
  • Nests in tree cavities.
  • A vocal woodpecker, the Northern Flicker often gives loud, “flicka,flicka,flicka” calls, and another loud, single note that sounds like, “Keer!” They also have a long, laughing vocalization of repeated notes, “kick,kick,kik,kik,kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik!”.

Northern Flickers mostly forage for ants on the ground in open and wooded areas. They are common woodpeckers and have earned the title of being the state bird of Alabama.


American Kestrel

American-Kestrel - Jim Esten

Scientific name: Falco spaverius

Length: 9 inches
Weight: 4.1 ounces
Wingspan: 22 inches
kli kli kli kli

The American Kestrel is a small falcon that has a long, orange-brown tail and dark barring on an orange-brown back. It also has a gray crown, a dark spot on the back of its head, and two bold, dark marks on its face.

The male has a black tip on its tail, dark spotting on blue-gray wings, and some dark spotting on its buff underparts.

Female American Kestrels are like males but are a bit larger, have dark barring on their tail and on red-brown wings, and have red-brown, streaked underparts.

The American Kestrel feeds on mice, grasshoppers, and small birds. It catches them on the ground after watching from a perch or hovering overhead.

This species nests in tree cavities and can also use nesting boxes. We find American Kestrels in grasslands and many other open habitats in parts of Alaska, much of Canada, and the lower 48 states south to Argentina.

Key Identifications:

  • Small, slender, and colorful falcon with a long orange-brown tail, and long, pointed wings.
  • Hunts small animals in open, grassy areas.
  • Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
  • Makes a strident “kli kli kli kli”, often in flight.

The American Kestrel is a small, boldly patterned falcon that perches on roadside cables and posts. It frequents large meadows and other open habitats in much of North America. This species can see UV light; a trait that helps it see small rodents in grass.


Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Scientific name: Sayornis nigricans

Length: 7 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches
peet syeh peet syeh peet syeh

The Black Phoebe is a medium-sized black and white flycatcher with a small crest. This species is easily recognized by its black plumage with white belly.

Males and females look alike and have a slender black beak, and white edging in the feathers of their wings and tail.

The Black Phoebe likes to sit on a low perch above or near a stream and fly out to catch insects in the air and on the ground. On occasion, it also eats berries and even small fish.

This species uses grass and mud to make a cup nest under a bridge, on a rock wall, or other hard structure. It usually builds its nest over or next to a stream.

Black Phoebes live along streams and near other waterways in open and wooded habitats. They range from parts of southwestern Oregon through California and in Arizona, New Mexico, and in western Texas.

Key Identifications:

  • Thrush-sized black and white flycatcher with a short crest.
  • Flies from a perch to catch insects in flight and on the ground.
  • Makes a cup nest out of mud and grass, under a bridge or on another hard structure.
  • Makes high-pitched calls and sings, “peet syeh peet syeh peet syeh”.

The Black Phoebe is a thrush-sized black and white flycatcher with a small crest. They live near streams or other water features in open and wooded habitats. This species is one of the few black and white flycatchers in the world and the only one in North America.


Common Raven

Common Raven

Scientific name: Corvus corax

Length: 24 inches
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Wingspan: 53 inches
Grauk Grauk Grauk Grauk!

The Common Raven is a big, black crow-like bird with long, broad wings and a broad, wedge-shaped tail.

Both sexes look alike and have feathers extending onto the top part of their strong, stout beaks.

This bird is often seen in soaring flight or in direct flight where it gives a few strong flaps between glides.

Common Ravens are omnivores that feed on carrion, small animals, nesting birds, and various other food items. They forage by flying above roads and other places and are always on the lookout for feeding opportunities.

This big Corvid makes a big, bulky nest out of sticks and lines the shallow cup with mud, wool, and other items. It builds its nest on a cliff, tree, bridge, or other structure.

The Common Raven lives in wilderness areas from the Arctic to parts of the northeastern USA and the western USA. In some places, it lives in urban areas.

Key Identifications:

  • Huge, black, crow-like bird with a strong, stout beak and a wedge-shaped tail.
  • An omnivore that feeds on small animals, carrion, and other food items.
  • Makes a big bulky stick nest in trees, on cliffs, and on human-made structures.
  • Common Ravens are vocal birds. One of their most common calls is a load and croaking, “Grauk Grauk Grauk Grauk!”.

The Common Raven is a large, black, crow-like bird of mountains, forest, tundra, and other wild areas. Some also live near people and, in flight, they can sometimes be mistaken for raptors. However, no hawk species is entirely black with a wedge-shaped tail. The Common Raven can mimic human speech and is one of the most intelligent bird species.


California Scrub-Jay

California Scrub Jay

© Becky Matsubara (Flickr)

Scientific name: Aphelocoma californica

Length: 11.5 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Wingspan: 15.5 inches
reeht! reeht reeht!

The California Scrub-Jay is a fair-sized jay with a white throat that is mostly blue above and pale gray below. Both sexes look alike and have a narrow white eyebrow, gray back, and dark face.

They occur in small, noisy groups that forage for a variety of food items in open and brushy habitats. These jays use their stout, slightly hooked beaks to eat acorns, insects, caterpillars, nestlings of other birds, and other small animals.

California Scrub-Jays also pick ticks from the back of deer as they perch on the large animal’s back.

This species uses twigs and other bits of plants to make a bulky, open cup nest in low trees and bushes.

The California Scrub-Jay is especially common in dry, oak and oak-pine woodlands in lower elevations. We also find them in gardens, brushy areas, riparian zones, and other habitats from western Washington south to California and Baja California.

Key Identifications:

  • Medium to large jay with a white throat that is blue and gray above and pale gray below.
  • Feeds on insects, acorns, small animals, and other food items. Also visits feeders.
  • Makes an open, bulky cup nest out of twigs and sticks.
  • This species is vocal, often making a nasal call, “reeht! reeht reeht!”.

The California Scrub-Jay is a fairly large jay that is blue above and pale below. This social bird looks for acorns and a variety of food items in gardens, oak woodlands, and other habitats. The hooked bill of this intelligent species helps it pick up and eat acorns.




Scientific name: Auriparus flaviceps

Length: 4.5 inches
Weight: .24 ounces
Wingspan: 6.5 inches
twee tee tee….twee tee tee…twee tee

The Verdin is a small gray bird with a yellow head and short, sharp black beak. They also have a small chestnut patch on the shoulders of their wings, and a small black mark in front of each eye.

Males and females look very similar but female birds are duller. Young birds don’t have any yellow on their head and are overall plain pale gray with short pale beaks.

Verdins feed on small insects and spiders. Small groups forage by quickly moving through thorny, arid vegetation and picking these food items from foliage, twigs, and branches.

The Verdin uses grass, spiderwebs, and plant matter to make a fairly bulky, domed nest with a side entrance. It builds it in small trees or bushes, usually at the edge of a stream bed. Related birds often build their nests near each other.

Verdins live in arid scrubby, and thorny vegetation in the American southwest, Texas, in the northern half of Mexico, and are some of the most common birds of Nevada.

Key Identifications:

  • Small gray bird with yellow on its head and some chestnut in its wings.
  • Feeds on arthropods in arid vegetation.
  • Makes a bulky, domed stick nest with a side entrance in a bush or small tree.
  • Makes clear, sweet, whistled sounds, “twee tee tee….twee tee tee…twee tee”.

The Verdin is a small, pale gray bird with a yellow head. Small groups actively forage in scrubby and arid vegetation in the American southwest, Texas, and northern Mexico. Although the Verdin acts like a chickadee, it is a type of “Penduline-Tit”, a family of birds from Eurasia and Africa.


Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Scientific name: Corthylio calendula

Length: 4.25 inches
Weight: .23 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
seetseetseet, reardidehdidid, ridiDEEP,ridiDEEP,ridiDEEP!”

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are tiny, grayish-olive birds with small, slender beaks. They have a broken white eyering and dark wings with yellowish-white edging on their feathers.

Both sexes look very similar and also have two white wing bars, the lower wing bar much more obvious than the upper one. Males also have a hidden, bright red or orange crest revealed in displays and aggressive situations.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is an active bird that rarely sits still. It feeds on small bugs, spiders, and insect eggs that it finds in conifers, bushes, and trees. They can forage at any height, often hover to pick food off foliage, and usually occur in flocks with other small birds.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets breed in coniferous forests in Alaska, Canada, parts of the northern USA, and the western USA. They spend the winter in parks and woodlands in much of the eastern, southern, and western USA, and Mexico.

Some migrate away for breeding season, but Nevada has a pretty decent year-round population of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets.

Key Identifications:

  • Tiny, grayish-olive bird with a broken eyering, two pale wing bars (the lower one more obvious), and a hidden red crest.
  • Feeds on small arthropods and insect eggs in bushes and trees.
  • Makes a small, rounded cup nest out of moss, lichens, and other soft materials high in a spruce or other conifer.
  • Sings a cheerful and surprisingly loud, “seetseetseet, reardidehdidid, ridiDEEP,ridiDEEP,ridiDEEP!”.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a tiny insectivorous bird that breeds in northern and montane coniferous forests, and winters in a variety of wooded habitats. It is very active and usually forages with other small birds. The female Ruby-crowned Kinglet can lay 12 eggs in one nest!


Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Scientific name: Cistothorus palustris

Length: 5 inches
Weight: .39 pounds
Wingspan: 6 inches
chup tik treeeeeeeee

The Marsh Wren is a small wren with a brown head, long, sharp beak, and white streaks on its black upper back.

Both sexes look the same, have long, white eyebrows, black barring on a longish, rounded tail, and a small black patch on their folded wings.

They also have pale gray underparts with brown or red-brown flanks, and pale brown or red-brown on their nape and rump, and wings.

Marsh Wrens forage low in marsh vegetation for insects and spiders. This species builds a domed nest woven out of marsh grass and other vegetation.

We find Marsh Wrens in freshwater marsh habitats in central, western, and southeastern Canada, and in the northern and western USA. They also live in coastal marshes on the eastern seaboard, Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific coast.

This small bird winters in eastern coastal marshes, wetlands, and similar habitats in the southern and western USA, and Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Small red-brown or pale brown wren with a pale throat, white streaks on a dark upper back, and dark crown.
  • Pairs forage down low for arthropods in dense marsh vegetation.
  • Makes a domed nest out of marsh grasses in cattails and other wetland vegetation.
  • Sings a staccato, mechanical rattling song, “chup tik treeeeeeeee”. It also makes dry “check” and rattle calls.

The Marsh Wren lives in marshes and similar dense, wet habitats in parts of western, central, and southeastern Canada, in much of the lower 48 states, and in Mexico. For every female they mate with, male Marsh Wrens can build six or more, unused nests!


Bewick’s Wren

Bewick's Wren

Scientific name: Thryomanes bewickii

Length: 5.25 inches
Weight: .35 ounces
Wingspan: 7 inches
pip up zeee chu ree chiitipitipit

The Bewick’s Wren is a slender, sparrow-sized, pale brown and gray wren with a narrow white eyebrow.

Both sexes look similar and have a sharp beak, pale throat, and mottled gray face. They also have dark barring on their undertail, and a long, rounded tail with dark barring and small white tips.

This species feeds on adult insects, insect eggs, caterpillars, and spiders. They forage by inspecting and moving through low vegetation and picking food from crevices, bark, and leaves.

Bewick’s Wrens usually occur in pairs that defend a territory and live in brushy habitats, thickets, and open woodlands. They make cup or domed nests out of grass and other vegetation on ledges and in nest boxes and other crevices.

The Bewick’s Wren occurs in southwestern British Columbia south to Baja California, and western Missouri and southern Wyoming south to Mexico. Some birds also live at scattered sites east to West Virginia.

Key Identifications:

  • Sparrow-sized, slender, pale brown wren with a narrow white eyebrow and long, rounded tail with small white tips.
  • Pairs forage for arthropods in bushes and other low vegetation.
  • Builds a cup or domed nest in cavities, nest boxes, and on ledges and other structures.
  • Makes a loud and raucous laughing call like many other large gulls“pip up zeee chu ree chiitipitipit””.

The Bewick’s Wren is a small, pale brown and gray bird with a long, sharp beak, long narrow eyebrow, and long, rounded tail. It lives in thickets and other brushy habitats in many parts of western and central North America. In the eastern USA, the House Wren has replaced this species and caused it to disappear from many parts of its former range.


European Starling

European Starling

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches

European Starlings are plump, short-tailed birds with long sharp beaks and longish, pointed wings. In summer, they have yellow beaks, glossy black plumage with purple and green highlights, and some small white spots.

Males and females are similar, but males have less spotting and glossier plumage. In winter, they have black beaks, white spots, and more reddish colors in their wings.

Young starlings are shaped like adults but are grayish birds with a dark beak and a pale throat.

This species feeds on a variety of insects, fruit, and seeds. They can dominate bird feeders and are common species in urban areas, parks, farmlands, and other open habitats.

This European Starling builds a soft cup nest in a tree cavity, nest box, or suitable cavity in other structures. They are common backyard birds across the United States, and Nevada is no different.

European Starlings flock with each other and blackbird species, especially during the winter. They live across a large part of Canada and the USA.

Key Identifications:

  • Rotund, short-tailed bird with a long, sharp beak, and pointed wings. Glossy black with some spotting in the summer and blackish with heavy white spotting and streaking in the winter.
  • Feeds on seeds, fruit, and insects. Visits feeders and forages on the ground in flocks.
  • Builds a soft cup nest in nest boxes and other cavities.
  • The European Starling makes a wide variety of mechanical and whistled sounds. They also mimic other birds and sounds in their environment. They sing long, jumbled mechanical-sounding songs, “tiktiktitZHREEree..tiktiktik..ZHREE”.

European Starlings are rounded, blackish birds with long, sharp beaks and short tails. They live in towns, cities, parks, on farms, and in other open habitats. This species forms large flocks called, “murmurations” that move in coordinated patterns.


Northern Mockingbird

Mockingbirds are known to replicate the songs of other birds

Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos

Length: 10 inches
Weight: 1.7 ounces
Wingspan: 14 inches
kerdee, kerdee, kerdee…jirdle,jirdle,jidrle…

The Northern Mockingbird is a pale gray and white bird with a long tail. Around the same size as an American Robin, it has a dark line through a pale eye, a short, slender beak, and two white wing bars.

Both sexes look alike, are gray above, and white and buff below. In flight, this bird shows a blackish tail with white outer feathers and a big white wing patch.

Northern Mockingbirds feed on insects and berries. They forage in open grassy spots on the ground. These animated birds run and pick bugs from the ground and fly up to catch insects in flight. In winter, they also perch in bushes to feast on berries.

The Northern Mockingbird lives in towns, parks, and other semi-open habitats and builds cup nests in bushes and low trees. Northern Mockingbirds are common garden birds in much of the eastern and southern USA, southern Ontario, and Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Vocal, gray and white bird with a small bill, white wing patches, and a long, black and white tail.
  • Feeds on the ground in open areas and in bushes. Mostly eats insects and berries.
  • Makes a cup nest in a bush or low tree.
  • Very vocal. Sings many phrases and mimics many other birds. Some of the more regular phrases sound like, “kerdee, kerdee, kerdee…jirdle,jirdle,jidrle…. These are interspered with the calls of Blue Jays, woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, and various other bird species.

The Northern Mockingbirds are known to mimic the calls of 35 bird species as well as mechanical sounds. More than a century ago, these avian virtuosos were highly prized as a cagebird and were traded for large sums of money.


American Robin

Female American Robin

Photograph © Tom Grey

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius

Length: 10 inches
Weight: 2.7 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
“cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer

The American Robin is a familiar and common thrush that is dark gray above and brick red below. It also has an orange-yellow bill, a blackish head with white markings around the eyes and on the throat, and a white belly.

Both sexes of this thrush species are similar but males are darker above and more reddish on the underparts. Young American Robins have more white marks on their faces and spotting on orange underparts.

In flight, this common thrush in Nevada also shows white corners in its outer tail feathers.

American Robins forage on the ground for worms, insects, snails, and other small creatures. In winter, these common birds flock together and perch in trees and bushes to eat berries and fruit.

The American Robin makes a cup nest in trees and lives in parks, woodlands, towns, and many other habitats. They reside in Alaska, most of Canada, the USA and in Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Fair-sized songbird that is dark gray above, and brick red and white below.
  • Forages for worms and bugs on lawns and other open grassy areas, also flocks together to feed on fruiting trees in the winter.
  • Makes a cup nest in trees.
  • The American Robin is quite vocal and makes a loud, sharp, “yenk!” call and quieter “check,check,check” calls. It also has a lovely cheerful song of caroled phrases, “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”.

Populations of the American Robin have been estimated at 370,000,000; a number that gives this bird the distinction of being the most numerous landbird in North America.



phainopepela - Tom Grey

Scientific name: Phainopepla nitens

Length: 7.75 inches
Weight: .84 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches

The Phainopepla is a dark, slender, crested bird with reddish eyes and a long tail. The male is glossy black and the female is dusky gray with white edging in her wings, and black and white markings on her undertail.

In flight, this species shows prominent white wing patches.

This unique bird feeds on berries and flying insects. Pairs and flocks forage on mistletoe and other berries by visiting fruiting bushes and picking the small fruits with their beaks. They catch insects by flying into the air from a perch and catching them with their small bills.

Phainopeplas use spider webs, small stems, down, and hair to make a smallish, pale cup nest in a tree.

The Phainopepla can occur in pairs but is often seen in flocks that roam deserts and other arid habitats in search of fruiting bushes and trees. They live in arid habitats of central and southern California, the American southwest, and Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Slender, dark, crested bird with reddish eyes and white wing patches.
  • Feeds on berries and flying insects in arid habitats.
  • Makes a shallow, small, pale cup nest in a tree.
  • Often gives a brief, rising, call, “wurt!” Also has a song of klinking and reedy calls, “kiLINK…breee…kiLINK..bipbreeerp”.

The Phainopepla is a slender, dark, crested bird with a longish tail and reddish eyes. Pairs or flocks are conspicuous in arid habitats and move around in search of fruiting bushes and trees. The name “Phainopepla” refers to the male’s glossy plumage and is a Greek term for “shining robe”.


House Sparrow

House Sparrow Passer domesticus)

Scientific name: Passer domesticus

Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .98 ounces
Wingspan: 9.5 inches

House Sparrows are small, plump gray and brown birds with conical, finch-like beaks. Males have a gray and rufous head with pale cheeks, and black near their eyes and on their throat.

The rest of their underparts are gray and they have brown, streaked backs with rufous highlights. They also have a white mark on the shoulder of each wing and a grayish rump and tail.

Females are plainer brown and buff, have paler beaks, and buff eyebrows.

House Sparrows feed on seeds, grain, and insects. They are regular visitors to bird feeders and often dominate other smaller species. They also forage on the ground in farmlands, parks, urban areas, and other open situations.

The House Sparrow nests in cavities. When searching for suitable nesting sites, they can kill and remove the eggs and young of smaller species like Eastern Bluebirds.

House Sparrows usually live near people and occur in most of North America, including Nevada.

Key Identifications:

  • Brown and gray sparrow with a bold pattern on its head.
  • Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects at feeders and on the ground in urban areas and farmlands.
  • Nests in tree cavities, including nest boxes.
  • This species is vocal and often makes short chirping calls. Its song is a friendly series of chirping sounds, “see,chirrup,see,chirrup,see,chirrup”.

In many places, the House Sparrow is the common urban sparrow. It occurs in pairs and small groups that forage on sidewalks, in parking lots, farm fields, and other familiar places. This species is one of the very few birds that has evolved to live with people and digest the same grains that we eat.


House Finch

House Finch

Photograph © John Hansen

Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus

Length: 6 inches
Weight: .88 ounces
Wingspan: 10 inches

House Finches are sparrow-sized birds with dark, rounded beaks and fairly long wings. Males are orange-red or rose-red on their head, throat and breast, and have some red on their rump. They also have brownish streaks on their back, flanks, and white belly.

Like the male, female House Finches have two white wing bars on long, gray-brown wings. However, they lack red and are mostly streaked, dull brown-gray birds.

House Finches feed on seeds, buds, fruit, and flowers. They often visit feeders in Nevada but also forage on the ground, and in bushes and trees.

We see these pretty birds in deserts and arid zones, and in parks, farmland, urban areas, and other semi-open habitats.

The House Finch makes a soft cup nest built on a tree, building ledge or other spot with some overhanging cover. They often occur in small groups and live in southern Canada, most of the USA, Mexico, and Hawaii.

Key Identifications:

  • Reddish or plain gray-brown, streaked, sparrow-like bird.
  • Eats seeds, flowers, buds, and fruit. Can visit feeders but also forages on the ground and in bushes and trees.
  • Makes a soft cup nest in trees, on building ledges, and other places.
  • The House Finch often makes a soft, “fidip” call. Males also sing a warbling song from prominent, high perches. It sounds like, “chip,chip,chiprididip,ZREEYachip”.

House Finches are sparrow-like, reddish or brownish, streaked birds. They live in arid zones as well as in parks and urban areas. All of the millions of House Finches that live east of the Rocky Mountains are descendants of birds released on Long Island in 1939.


Lesser Goldfinch

lesser-goldfinch - Tom Grey

Scientific name: Carduelis psaltria

Length: 4.5 inches
Weight: .3 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
chip idid see sipachupchipchipasipsipchipadip

The Lesser Goldfinch is a small bird with a grayish, finch-like beak, rather short, forked tail, and long blackish wings with white markings.

Males have a black cap, olive gray-green upperparts, and yellow underparts. Birds that live east of the Rockies have completely black backs. Females are much plainer and are pale brown-olive above and yellow below.

Lesser Goldfinches have quick, bounding flight. They can occur as pairs but, in California and the American southwest, often form sizeable flocks.

This species feeds on a variety of seeds. They often occur in groups with other seed-eating birds as they forage in weedy fields and visit feeders. Lesser Goldfinches pick up seeds from the ground and while perched on stalks of grass-like plants.

The Lesser Goldfinch uses plant fibers to make a small cup nest in a tree.

This species lives in brushy and semi-open woodlands in Nevada and the American southwest north to southern Washington.

Key Identifications:

  • Small finch with olive or black upperparts, yellow underparts, a dark beak, and a small white patch in the wing.
  • Forages for seeds on and near the ground and also visits feeders.
  • Makes a small cup nest out of grass and other plant matter.
  • This species makes clear, high-pitched calls and has a jumbling, tinkling song with warbled and trilled notes, “chip idid see sipachupchipchipasipsipchipadip”.

The Lesser Goldfinch is a small, yellow and olive or black finch with white in their wings and a dark beak. It occurs in brushy habitats and open woodlands, visits feeders, and is most common in California and the American southwest. This species waits for thistle and plenty of other “weedy” plants to have seeds before it builds its nest.


Dark-eyed Junco

dark eyed junco

Scientific name: Junco hyemalis

Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrow-like birds with pale conical bills and dark eyes. This small bird has variable plumage with most being slate gray or gray and brown with white on their bellies, and white under their tails.

Other plumages include birds with dark masks and faint white wing bars, juncos with pale gray hoods and pinkish sides, and birds with blackish hoods and chestnut sides.

In flight, all Dark-eyed Juncos show extensive white in their longish tails.

This species feeds on seeds, insects, and some fruit and grain. Juncos forage on the ground in wooded areas, parks, and other habitats. They also feed on fallen seed beneath feeders.

They build cup nests on the ground under fallen logs, in roots, and other hidden spots. After breeding, juncos form flocks that forage together in similar wooded and semi-open habitats.

Dark-eyed Juncos are common birds in Canada, the USA, and parts of Mexico.

Key Identifications:

  • Sparrow-like gray and brown bird with dark eyes, a pale beak, and white in the tail.
  • Forages for seeds and insects on the ground, can feed on seeds at and beneath feeders.
  • Builds a cup-shaped nest on the ground in tree roots, under logs, and other hidden places.
  • This species often makes a sharp, high-pitched chip note, “pik!”. On breeding grounds, males sing a short, plain trill, “sipsipsipsipsipsipsip”.

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrow-like, gray and brown birds with much white in the tail. Common wintering birds in many areas, they forage for seeds on the ground in wooded and park-like habitats.  In many places, this common species is also known the “Snowbird” on account of only occurring in the winter months and having white on the belly and tail.


White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

© Alan D. Wilson

Scientific name: Zonotrichia leucophrys

Length: 7 inches
Weight: 1 ounce
Wingspan: 9.5 inches
tuuur teeteetee zhree zhree zeh

The White-crowned Sparrow is a thrush-sized sparrow with black and white stripes on its head, and a small, finch-like orange or pinkish beak.

Both sexes look alike and have a gray face, gray underparts with pale brown flanks, streaked brown back, and gray-brown rump. Their rounded wings are mottled brown with two pale wing bars.

In winter, young birds have brown and tan stripes on their head.

The White-crowned Sparrow feeds on insects, seeds, grass, buds, and fruit. It forages by picking food items from the ground and in low vegetation. In winter, this species moves around forest and park-like habitats in flocks.

This sparrow makes a cup nest out of grass, bark strips, and other plant matter and builds it on the ground or in a low bush.

White-crowned Sparrows occur in shrubby habitats in Alaska, Canada, the Rocky Mountains, along the Pacific Coast, and winter in much of the western, central, and eastern USA.

Key Identifications:

  • Thrush-sized sparrow with a black and white striped head, gray underparts, orange or pinkish finch-like beak, and two wing bars.
  • Eats insects, seeds, and fruit on and near the ground, often in flocks.
  • Makes a cup nest on or near the ground.
  • Makes a sharp call, “Pick!” and sings a pleasant song, “tuuur teeteetee zhree zhree zeh”.

The White-crowned Sparrow is a fairly large sparrow with black and white stripes on its head. Young birds have brown and tan striped heads and this species occurs in flocks in the winter. Some White-crowned Sparrows are “bilingual” as they learn more than one regional song.


Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus

Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.8 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches

The Red-winged Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird species with a sharp, all-black bill. Males also have a scarlet patch with a pale yellow border on the shoulder of each wing.

Female Red-winged Blackbirds are dark, heavily streaked, brownish-gray birds with an orange-buff eyebrow and throat. She can also have a little bit of dingy red on her shoulder.

Red-winged Blackbirds often flock together and can form very large groups in the winter. They feed on seeds, grain, and insects found on lawns, in marshes, farm fields, and other open habitats.

This species builds a cup nest made of leaves and dead stems in a bush or other low vegetation in a marsh, park, or brushy field.

Red-winged Blackbirds are very common birds that live in all sorts of open habitats. We see them in parks, farming areas, and marshes in much of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and parts of the Central America.

Key Identifications:

  • Males are medium-sized blackbirds with bright red patches on their wings. Females are heavily streaked, have a sharp black beak, and buff on the head.
  • Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects on the ground in many open habitats.
  • Builds a cup nest in a bush or other low vegetation.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds often call. Males sing a loud, “kan-keree!” and both sexes also make “check!” calls and a high-pitched whistle-like sound.

The Red-winged Blackbird is a common, social species easily seen in marshes and open habitats. In the winter, it can form huge flocks that feed in farm fields. This species can make a daily commute of 50 miles to and from roosting and feeding sites.


Great-tailed Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle

Photograph © Greg Lavaty

Scientific name: Quiscalus mexicanus

Length: 15-18 inches
Weight: 3.7-7 ounces
Wingspan: 19-23 inches
fliirrr, klee!, klee! kek, kek, kikikikiki”

Great-tailed Grackles are big blackbirds with long, wedge-shaped tails, pale yellow eyes, and strong, stout beaks. Males are entirely black with metallic purple and dark blue highlights.

Female Great-tailed Grackles are noticeably smaller and are grayish brown with a pale, tawny- buff eyebrow and throat. They also have blackish wings, and a blackish tail and rump.

The Great-tailed Grackle has shallow, undulating flight and usually occurs in flocks. Large, very noisy groups can gather at roosting sites, especially early in the morning and late in the

Eats seeds, insects, small animals, and other food items that it finds on the ground afternoon.

This big blackbird species lives in urban areas, wetlands, and on farms. It forages on the ground, picking up grubs, insects, grain, and other food items. This species also feeds on the eggs and nestlings of other bird species.

Great-tailed Grackles make messy stick nests in bushes and low trees and live in the American southwest north to Kansas and south to Central America.

Key Identifications:

  • Large, glossy blackbird with a long, wedge-shaped tail and pale eyes. Females are grayish brown with a pale throat and eyebrows.. Also feeds on the eggs and nestlings of other bird species.
  • Builds a messy stick nest in bushes.
  • Makes loud whistled songs “fliirrr, klee!, klee! kek, kek, kikikikiki”, and “kek” calls.

The Great-tailed Grackle is a big, bold long-tailed bird that is hard to ignore. Small flocks of glossy purple-black males and gray-brown females forage on the ground for a variety of food items. In the Rio Grande Valley, flocks in sugarcane fields can number an incredible half a million birds!


Yellow-rumped Warbler

yellow-rumped-warbler - Lora render

Scientific name: Setophaga coronata

Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .42 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a small, blue-gray songbird with a yellow rump, crown, and yellow patches on each side of its breast. It also has two white wing bars, dark marks on the back, and white underparts with blackish markings on its breast and sides.

In summer, this species has a blackish face and white markings above and below the eyes. Females are like males but duller. In winter, both sexes of Yellow-rumped Warblers are duller and have more brownish plumage.

The western subspecies has a yellow throat and more white in the wings.

This species feeds on insects and small berries. It picks food from vegetation and briefly flies into the air to catch bugs in flight.

Yellow-rumped Warbler build small cup nests in conifers in Canada and the northeastern and western USA. They spend the winter in semi-open habitats from the southern USA to Central America.

Key Identifications:

  • Small songbird with two pale wing bars and yellow patches on the rump, each side of its breast, and crown.
  • Feeds on insects and small berries.
  • Builds cup nests in conifers in northern and montane forests.
  • The Yellow-rumped Warbler makes a sharp call note, “chup!”, and sings a brief and easy-going warbling song, “si,sit,sit,sit,sit,sue,sue,sue”.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are small, blue-gray or brownish songbirds with two pale wing bars, and yellow patches on the crown, sides of the breast, and rump. In winter, they occur in small flocks that feed on insects and berries in parks and other semi-open habitats.


Birds of Nevada – Frequently Asked Questions

How many bird species are native to Nevada?

In total, 493 bird species are native to Nevada. This is the number of bird species that have been accepted on the official bird list for the state.

What is the most common bird in Nevada?

The most common bird in Nevada is the Canada Goose. According to eBird data, this large waterfowl species is seen more often than any other bird in the state.

What is the largest bird in Nevada?

The largest bird in Nevada is the American White Pelican. This big bird is 62 inches long, has a huge nine foot wingspan, and weighs 16.4 pounds. However, the heaviest bird in Nevada is the Trumpeter Swan. It weighs 23 pounds!

What is the smallest bird in Nevada?

The smallest bird in Nevada is the Calliope Hummingbird. This tiny bird is just 3.25 inches long, has a wingspan of 4.25 inches, and only weighs 0.1 ounces.

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

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