Must-See Birds In Arizona – AZ Animals

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Arizona offers some of the best and most unique bird-watching in America. The state is rich with vegetation along streams and rivers and contains four distinct desert regions with their own flora and fauna. Meaning there are many rare species to see within its boundaries. Some birds on this list are common, while others are exotic. But you are sure to find many must-see birds in Arizona, whether you are a beginner or an expert birder!
Habitat: The red-winged blackbird is one of the most abundant birds in North America. It lives year-round in Arizona, inhabiting weedy fields and brushy swamps.
Appearance: Stocky and broad-shouldered, the red-winged blackbird is black all over with bright red and yellow wing patches.
Diet: Insects and seeds
Vocalizations: Rich, musical “conk-la-ree!”
Nests: Bulky open cup attached to standing vegetation
©John Rakestraw/
Habitat: The Brewer’s blackbird has permanent residents in Northern Arizona and wintering populations throughout the rest of the state. Look for them in fields, prairies, farms, and parks.
Appearance: They are full-bodied medium-sized blackbirds with glossy black plumage and yellow eyes.
Diet: Insects, seeds, and berries
Vocalizations: Shrill songs, squawks, and whistles
Nests: Bulky open twigs and grass cup with dried mud or manure
© Strohm
Habitat: Arizona has year-round, migrating, wintering, and breeding populations of yellow-headed blackbirds. You can find them in marshes, fields, pastures, and open country.
Appearance: They are large and stout with black bodies and yellow heads and breasts. Their wings have white patches.
Diet: Insects and seeds
Vocalizations: Musical notes and screeching buzzes
Nests: Deep, woven cups of aquatic plants
Habitat: Summer tanagers breed in Southern Arizona, where they build their nests in cottonwood-willow forests along streams. 
Appearance: These plump, medium-sized tanagers have large heads and thick, blunt-tipped bills. Males are bright red, and females are greenish-yellow.
Diet: Insects and berries
Vocalizations: Soft and sweet songs
Nests: Loose, shallow grass cups
Habitat: Arizona has sporadic year-round and breeding populations of vermilion flycatchers, most abundant in the southeastern portion of the state. They live along streams in arid country, such as deserts with scattered trees.
Appearance: They are medium-sized flycatchers with short tails and shaggy crests.
Diet: Insects
Vocalizations: Soft, tinkling songs
Nests: Compact twig and grass cups
©Laura Mountainspring/
Habitat: Western tanagers breed in Northeastern Arizona and migrate through the rest of the state before reaching their Mexican wintering grounds. They breed in forests and woodlands and stop in deserts, parks, and other habitats during migration.
Appearance: Stocky and heavy-bodied, the western tanager features bright yellow, flame orange, and black plumage.
Diet: Insects, fruits, and berries
Vocalizations: Robin-like flutey songs
Nests: Shallow open twigs and grass cups
Habitat: The yellow-breasted chat spends its springs and summers throughout Arizona. They breed in dense scrub along streams and ponds.
Appearance: They are bulky birds with long tails and big heads. They are olive-green above and white and yellow below with white spectacles.
Diet: Insects and berries
Vocalizations: Croaks, whistles, and repeated phrases
Nests: Large open cups of dead leaves and straw
Habitat: Western kingbirds are another breeding bird in Arizona. You can find them across most of the state, inhabiting open terrains like desert scrub, farms, and roadsides.
Appearance: A large flycatcher with thick bills and broad shoulders. Their plumage is gray, yellow, white, and black.
Diet: Insects
Vocalizations: Loud, sharp calls
Nests: Grass and weed cup in a tree fork
©Ronnie Howard/
Habitat: The red-tailed hawk is prolific in North America, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting to see! They live year-round in Arizona across the state, where they inhabit open country and woodlands.
Appearance: These large hawks have rounded wings and broad tails. They feature rich brown plumage with warm red tails.
Diet: Small mammals, birds, and reptiles
Vocalizations: High-pitched scream
Nests: A bulky stick bowl in a tree
Habitat: The peregrine falcon is a permanent resident throughout most of Arizona. You can find them in many habitats, from open country to desert mountains.
Appearance: They are the largest falcon on the continent, with long tails and long, pointed wings. Their plumage is bluish-gray above and streaky white below, with dark heads.
Diet: Mostly birds
Vocalizations: Loud, raspy calls
Nests: A simple scrape on a cliff ledge
©Barbara Ash/
Habitat: The California condor lives year-round in the far northwest corner of Arizona. They inhabit rugged terrain with steep cliffs and forage over open grasslands.
Appearance: They are the largest birds in North America, featuring exceptionally long, broad wings. They have black plumage with distinctive white patches under their wings.
Diet: Carrion
Vocalizations: Typically silent, may hiss and snort
Nests: Stones and debris placed on the bottom of a cave
©Devonyu /
Habitat: Anna’s hummingbird lives permanently in Southern Arizona, particularly the southwest corner. They live in open woods, chaparral, parks, gardens, and streamside groves.
Appearance: They are stocky, medium-sized hummingbirds (tiny in general). They are green, gray, orange, and iridescent pink.
Diet: Nectar and insects
Vocalizations: Sharp chips and rapid calls
Nests: A compact plant fiber and spider web cup
© Huth
Habitat: The bushtit lives year-round in Eastern Arizona, where they inhabit scrublands, mixed woods, and other brushy or wooded habitats.
Appearance: Tiny and plump, bushtits have long tails and short bills. Their plumage is drab in brown, gray, and tan.
Diet: Insects
Vocalizations: High trills and light ticking calls
Nests: Spider and moss cups in trees or shrubs
©Sean R. Stubben/
Habitat: The cactus wren lives in the deserts and arid brush in Southern Arizona. Look for them among cacti, yucca, and mesquite.
Appearance: These large, chunky wrens have heavy bills and long tails. Their plumage is speckled and streaky brown, cinnamon, white, and black.
Diet: Insects, fruits, and seeds
Vocalizations: Rapid, mechanical songs
Nests: A bulky weed and grass mass
Habitat: Gila woodpeckers live in the desert habitats of Southern Arizona. Look for them in saguaros, desert washes, and river groves.
Appearance: They are medium-sized woodpeckers with long tails. Their plumage is grayish-brown with black and white wings and a red forehead patch.
Diet: Insects, fruits, berries, nectar, and seeds
Vocalizations: Rolling series of notes
Nests: A cavity inside giant cacti
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