Birds Found in Phoenix and the Surrounding Parts of Arizona

Phoenix and the surrounding areas of Arizona are home to many birds from the smallest hummingbirds and parrots (likely pet escapees) to waterfowl and massive birds of prey. Some birds are native to the area, while others are passing through during migration. A handful were introduced by being purposefully released into the ecosystem. Take a look at the birds you can see living wild in Phoenix and the Sonoran Desert area of the Southwest U.S.

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    Gila Woodpecker on a Saguaro Cactus

    Gila Woodpecker
    Mike's Birds / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0​

    A Gila woodpecker photographed sitting atop a saguaro flower, Arizona's state flower. This bird is native to the Southwest and northern Mexico.

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    Hybrid Hummingbird

    Arizona Hummingbird
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. John Hardison, used with permission

    A photo of this rare hybrid hummingbird was snapped at Boyce Thompsom Arboretum in Superior, Arizona. This cross is a broadbill hummingbird with a violet-crowned hummingbird. This rarity was last spotted in the wild in Mexico in the 1890s.

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    Great Blue Heron

    Great Blue Heron in Arizona
    Great Blue Heron. Judy Hedding

    The great blue heron, one of the largest herons in the world, was spotted on a rooftop. It lives year-round in Phoenix.

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    Great Blue Heron and Great Egret

    Arizona Herons
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    This great blue heron and egret usually live in similar climate zones. Egrets, like herons, can be found year-round in Phoenix's Maricopa County in areas with large ponds and marshes, as well as agricultural fields.

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    Great Egret with American White Pelicans

    Arizona Great Egret
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Great Egret Picture © Judy Hedding, licensed to About.com

    Great egrets are more common in Phoenix, although great white pelicans are increasing in numbers. American white pelicans breed in Canada and the upper Midwest, and they typically winter near the Gulf of Mexico and coastal Southern California. More and more, these enormous wetland birds are wintering in Arizona for the Sonoran Desert's human-made lakes stocked with fish and the balmy weather.

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    Hummingbird

    Phoenix Hummingbird
    Andreas Geh / Getty Images

    Beautiful hummingbirds live in the Phoenix area year-round. Arizona boasts the most diverse types of hummingbirds in the United States. Many pass through the state during migration. 

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    Turkey Vulture

    Turkey Vulture
    Anne Reeves / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

    Turkey vultures are the most common vulture in North America. They resemble wild turkeys. They have a keen sense of smell and can identify carrion by sight and odor. They are year-round residents in the Sonoran Desert area.

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    Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

    Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
    Murray Foubister / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    This beautiful black-bellied whistling duck lives on ponds and slow rivers, including the Salt River and urban lakes and ponds of Phoenix.

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    Turkey Vulture

    Turkey Vulture
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Turkey Vulture Picture © Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    This turkey vulture is in flight above Gilbert, Arizona, a town in Maricopa County, southeast of Phoenix, and within the Phoenix metropolitan area. 

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    Great-Tailed Grackle

    Great-Tailed Grackle
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Great-Tailed Grackle Picture © Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    The great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a medium-sized songbird that is native to North and South America. It is also called a Mexican grackle.

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    Great Blue Heron

    Great Blue Heron
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Great Blue Heron Picture © Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    This majestic great blue heron, shown here in flight, usually nest in trees or shrubs and prefer their nests 20 to 60 feet above the ground.

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    Immature Black-crowned Night Heron

    Immature Black-crowned Night Heron
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    The black-crowned night heron, here seen in Gilbert, Arizona, hides out in the shade during the day. As night approaches, this short-necked heron comes out to hunt fish and amphibians. They commonly live around urban ponds and lakes.

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    Burrowing Owl

    Arizona Burrowing Owl
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are pigmy owls, a small variety of owls that are active during the day hunting insects and mice. They live in abandoned burrows of ground squirrels and other mammals. This particular owl was near a nature trail near Gilbert Library in Gilbert, Arizona.

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    Peach-Faced Lovebird

    Arizona Lovebird
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. John Hardison, used with permission

    This peach-faced lovebird is one of several lovebirds living at the Gilbert Water Ranch, a riparian or wetland preserve. This bird is not native to the U.S., but feral flocks thrive in the Greater Phoenix area.

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    Northern Mockingbird

    Arizona Northern Mockingbird
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    This northern mockingbird was in Gilbert, Arizona. These birds are permanent residents in Arizona. In Maricopa County, they are easily found in the city in parks, neighborhoods, and lawns and have adapted to people. They prefer living in open fields, deserts, and open foothills.  

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    Anna's Hummingbird

    Anna's Hummingbird
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Phil Pritchard, used with permission

    Anna's hummingbirds are common in gardens and backyard feeders in Arizona. Before the 1960s, they were temporary residents during the winter months, but they have since remained. This male was in the vicinity of the Westbrook Village Golf Course in Peoria, Arizona.

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    Gambel's Quail

    Gambel's Quail
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Brad Lawrence, used with permission.

    Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii) is a small, ground-dwelling quail common in the Phoenix area. The male is more colorful than the female. You will rarely see them flying; they mostly walk or run. The desert region is its native habitat.

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    Gambel's Quail Eggs

    Quail Eggs
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Brad Lawrence, used with permission.

    Gambel's quails do not build nests for their eggs. Usually, they will deposit them under a bush or some foliage.

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    Gambel's Quail Chick

    Quail Chick
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Brad Lawrence, used with permission.

    This Gambel's quail chick is no more than a week old and no larger than 1-inch tall.

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    Cooper's Hawk

    Cooper's Hawk
    Prescott, Ariz., Hawk. Tony Perrino, Prescott, Ariz., used with permission.

    A Cooper's hawk perches on a porch in Prescott, Arizona, a town north of Phoenix. Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii) are frequent nesters in the Southwest, where they live year-round.

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    Roadrunner

    Arizona Roadrunner
    Greater Roadrunner. Tony Perrino, Prescott, AZ, used with permission.

    Long-legged roadrunners can run up to 20 miles per hour. The greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), a member of the cuckoo family, is commonly seen in the Phoenix area.

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    Mallard Hybrid

    Arizona Mallard
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    This mallard duck hybrid was near the public library in Gilbert. Mallards can be found all over North America and are extremely common in Maricopa County throughout the year, especially during the winter months when northern birds migrate south. 

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    Rock Pigeons

    Rock Pigeons
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    These rock pigeons photographed in Scottsdale, Arizona, is easily found in cities and urban settings, and everywhere in Arizona. This bird came to North America in the 1600s with European settlers.

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    Great Egret

    Great Egret in Gilbert, Arizona
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix Area. Stephen J. Forbes, used with permission

    This great egret was at Freestone Park in Gilbert, Arizona.

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    Great Egret

    Great Egret
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Don Jorgenson, used with permission

    This great egret at the Phoenix Zoo looks like it is dancing on the water.

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    Harris Hawk

    Arizona Harris Hawk
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Daro Weilburg, used with permission

    These Harris hawks hang out at a private bird sanctuary in Fountain Hills, Arizona, in Maricopa County.

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    Crissal Thrasher

    Crissal Thrasher
    Pictures of Birds Seen in the Greater Phoenix area. Daro Weilburg, used with permission

    The Crissal thrasher is a drably colored desert wash or wetland thicket bird native to the American Southwest and central Mexico. It is one of the finest desert songbirds.

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    Western Bluebird

    Western Bluebird
    Western Bluebird. Jim Lewis, used with permission.

    Western bluebirds are colorful, year-round residents of northern Arizona. They will migrate to southeastern and northwestern parts of the state to spend their winters. This bird was near Wickenburg, Arizona, a town on the border of Maricopa and Yavapai counties.

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    Neotropic Cormorants

    Neotropic Cormorants
    Neotropic Cormorants. Jim Lewis, used with permission.

    These neotropic cormorants are drying their wings in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb southeast of Phoenix. These birds prefer freshwater lakes, ponds, lagoons, and slow-moving rivers around Phoenix, including the lower Salt and Gila rivers and the Gillespie Dam.

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    Black-Crowned Night Heron

    Black-Crowned Night Heron
    Black-Crowned Night Heron. Jim Lewis, used with permission.

    This black-crowned night heron was in the Chandler area of Maricopa County.

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    Great Egret and Snowy Egret

    Great Egret and Snowy Egret
    Great Egret and Snowy Egret. Jim Lewis, used with permission.

    A great egret (left) and a snowy egret (right) seen at a pond in Chandler, Arizona. Snowy egrets are common year-round in Maricopa County and prefer habitats like lake edges, ponds, marshes, rivers, and agricultural fields. 

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    Northern Mockingbird

    Northern Mockingbird
    Northern Mockingbird. Louise Mingua of Tempe, AZ, used with permission.

    This northern mockingbird was in Tempe, Arizona, a relatively dense, urbanized city just east of Phoenix, in Arizona.

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    American Coot

    American Coot
    American Coot. Jim Lewis, used with permission.

    This American coot spied in Chandler, Arizona, is a duck-like water bird often found in city parks, marshes, reservoirs, lake edges, roadside ditches, sewage treatment ponds, and saltwater inlets or saltmarshes.

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    Curve-Billed Thrasher

    Curve-Billed Thrasher
    Curve-Billed Thrasher. Jim Lewis, used with permission.

    This curve-billed thrasher seen in Chandler is a non-migratory native bird to the Sonoran Desert.

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    Acorn Woodpecker

    Acorn Woodpecker
    Acorn Woodpecker. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    Acorn woodpeckers live in oak and pine forests in Arizona. This one was at a feeder in Strawberry, Arizona.

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    Black-Headed Grosbeak

    Black-Headed Grosbeak
    Black-Headed Grosbeak. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    This male black-headed grosbeak perched in an alligator juniper tree in Strawberry, Arizona, is common in the West. It breeds in higher-elevation forests in Arizona, such as the pine and oak woodlands, among mixed conifers, and in wetland thickets. 

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    Pygmy Nuthatches

    Pygmy Nuthatches
    Pygmy Nuthatches. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    This pair of pygmy nuthatches were at a birdbath in Strawberry, Arizona. They typically live in pine forests in the Western U.S. (especially ponderosa pines), among Douglas firs, and other conifers.

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    Steller's Jay

    Steller's Jay
    Steller's Jay. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    This Steller's jay in Strawberry, Arizona, is the largest of the jay species. In the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, it inhabits arid pine and oak woodlands.

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    Red-Shafted Northern Flicker

    Northern Flicker
    Northern Flicker. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    This female red-shafted northern flicker in Strawberry, Arizona, was held by its photographer after it had stunned itself by hitting a window. It shortly flew away. These substantial woodpeckers have sharp chiseled beaks to extract carpenter ants and other insects from nests in tree trunks.

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    Northern Cardinal

    Northern Cardinal
    Northern Cardinal. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    A rare find, a northern cardinal was spotted in Gisela, a town northeast of Phoenix in Gila County. Northern cardinals are usually only found in southeastern Arizona.

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    Harris Hawk

    Harris Hawk
    Harris Hawk. Maxine Piper, used with permission.

    This Harris hawk perched on a light pole is a medium-large bird of prey that breeds from the southwestern United States south to Chile, central Argentina, and Brazil.

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    Northern Pintail

    Northern Pintail
    Northern Pintail. Tom Callahan, used with permission.

    This northern pintail photographed at the Phoenix Zoo typically lives in open unwooded wetlands, such as wet grassland, lakesides, or tundra. In winter, it migrates to sheltered estuaries, brackish marshes, and coastal lagoons.

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    Greater Roadrunner

    Greater Roadrunner
    Pictures of Birds Seen in Arizona Greater Roadrunner, photographed in Phoenix, Arizona. Mari Bootz, used with permission.

    This greater roadrunner was spotted in Phoenix.

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    White-Winged Dove

    Fort McDowell White-Winged Dove
    Fort McDowell White-Winged Dove. © Brian Hankes, used with permission.

    This white-winged dove rests on a saguaro cactus with red blooms in Fort McDowell near Scottsdale. A Sonoran Desert native, the fruit pulp and seeds of the saguaro cactus are a vital food source. The fruit ripens around the end of June, in time for the appearance of the dove's hatchlings.

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    Cactus Wren

    Cactus Wren
    Cactus Wren. T. Bryce, used with permission

    The cactus wren is Arizona's state bird. Here, it is sitting atop the state flower, a blooming saguaro.

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  • 46 of 47

    Black Necked Stilt

    Black Necked Stilt
    Black Necked Stilt. Grant Brummett, used with permission

    This black-necked stilt walks in the water at the Riparian Bird Sanctuary at the Gilbert Water Ranch in Gilbert, Arizona. This bird's natural range is the southern and western U.S., including the Great Basin, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts near bodies of water.

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    Great Egret

    Great Egret
    Grant Brummett, used with permission

    This great egret lands in a pond at the Riparian Bird Sanctuary in Gilbert Water Ranch.