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Bird Checklists of the United States

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Roswell, New Mexico


Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Pecos River valley of southeastern New Mexico, provides over 23,000 acres of varied wildlife habitat. Lying within the Chihuahuan Desert and mixed-grass prairie transition zone, plant and animal species occuring in both areas are present on the refuge.

Bitter Lake Refuge was established in 1937 as a resting and wintering area for migratory birds. From October through March, large concentrations of waterfowl and lesser sandhill cranes can be observed on refuge waters and croplands. In the spring and fall, a great diversity of migratory species, including shorebirds and songbirds, pass through the refuge.

Much of the refuge is comprised of grass and shrub-covered prairie, where upland resident species such as scaled quail, pheasants and roadrunners can be found.

This list contains 285 species that have been recorded on the refuge, principally on the south tract. An additional 16 species, considered to be accidentals and out of their range, are added on to the end of the checklist. Species are listed in accordance with the sixth edition (1983) A.O.U. Check-list.


* - nests locally
Symbols used in this list are defined as follows:

Sp - March to May
S - June to August
F - September to November
W - December to February

a - abundant: a common species which is very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat at the suitable time of day
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times during a season
r - rare: seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon r - - -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c u c u ___ Horned Grebe r - r o ___ Eared Grebe c r c u ___ Western Grebe o r o o ___ Clark's Grebe - - r r
PELICANS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican c o c r
CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ Double-crested Cormorant u r u r ___ Olivaceous Cormorant* r - - -
BITTERNS & HERONS Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* u u u u ___ Least Bittern* r r r - ___ Great Blue Heron c u c c ___ Great Egret u u u u ___ Snowy Egret* c c c r ___ Little Blue Heron r o r - ___ Tricolored Heron r r - - ___ Cattle Egret o o r - ___ Green Heron* o c u r ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron c c u r
IBISES & SPOONBILLS Sp S F W ___ White-faced Ibis u o u o
SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan - - r o ___ Greater White-fronted Goose o - o o ___ Snow Goose c r a a ___ Ross' Goose c - c c ___ Canada Goose* c c c c ___ Wood Duck o - o o ___ Green-winged Teal c u c u ___ Mallard* c c a a ___ Northern Pintail* a u a c ___ Blue-winged Teal* c c c u ___ Cinnamon Teal* c c c u ___ Northern Shoveler* a u a a ___ Gadwall* c u c c ___ American Wigeon a u c a ___ Canvasback u r u u ___ Redhead c o c c ___ Ring-necked Duck o - u u ___ Lesser Scaup* u r u u ___ Oldsquaw r - - r ___ White-winged Scoter r - - r ___ Common Goldeneye o r o u ___ Bufflehead c r c c ___ Hooded Merganser r - o o ___ Common Merganser u r u c ___ Red-breasted Merganser o - o o ___ Ruddy Duck c u c a
AMERICAN VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture* c c u -
KITES, EAGLES & HAWKS Sp S F W ___ Osprey o o o o ___ Black-shouldered Kite r - - - ___ Mississippi Kite o o - - ___ Bald Eagle - - - o ___ Northern Harrier* c - c o ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk o r o o ___ Cooper's Hawk u o u u ___ Northern Goshawk - - r o ___ Harris' Hawk* o - - - ___ Swainson's Hawk* u u u - ___ Red-tailed Hawk c o c c ___ Ferruginous Hawk u o u u ___ Rough-legged Hawk o - u u ___ Golden Eagle o - o o
FALCONS Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel* u u u u ___ Merlin - - r o ___ Peregrine Falcon r - r - ___ Prairie Falcon* u o u u
PHEASANTS, GROUSE & QUAIL Sp S F W ___ Ring-necked Pheasant* c c c u ___ Lesser Prairie-Chicken - r r - ___ Northern Bobwhite* u u u u ___ Scaled Quail* u u u u
RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Sp S F W ___ Yellow Rail - - r - ___ Virginia Rail* u u u u ___ Sora* u u u u ___ Common Moorhen* r r - - ___ American Coot* a c a a
CRANES Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane u - a c
PLOVERS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover o r o - ___ American Golden-Plover r - - - ___ Snowy Plover* c a c - ___ Semipalmated Plover o o o r ___ Killdeer* c c c o ___ Mountain Plover - - r -
STILTS & AVOCETS Sp S F W ___ Black-necked Stilt* c c u - ___ American Avocet* c c u r
SANDPIPERS & PHALAROPES Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs c c c u ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u u u r ___ Solitary Sandpiper o o o - ___ Willet u o o - ___ Spotted Sandpiper u u u - ___ Upland Sandpiper r - r - ___ Whimbrel r - - - ___ Long-billed Curlew o o o o ___ Hudsonian Godwit r r - - ___ Marbled Godwit o o o - ___ Red Knot - - r - ___ Sanderling r r r - ___ Western Sandpiper c c c o ___ Least Sandpiper c c c o ___ White-rumped Sandpiper r r r - ___ Baird's Sandpiper u o o - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper r - r - ___ Dunlin r - r - ___ Stilt Sandpiper c c c r ___ Short-billed Dowitcher r r - - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher c c c r ___ Common Snipe u o u u ___ Wilson's Phalarope a c o - ___ Red-necked Phalarope r - o -
GULLS & TERNS Sp S F W ___ Franklin's Gull u - o - ___ Bonaparte's Gull r - o r ___ Ring-billed Gull c r c c ___ Herring Gull r - o o ___ Sabine's Gull - - o - ___ Caspian Tern r - r - ___ Common Tern r r r - ___ Forster's Tern u u o - ___ Least Tern* u u u - ___ Black Tern c u u -
PIGEONS & DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove r r - - ___ White-winged Dove o o - - ___ Mourning Dove* a a a c
CUCKOOS, ROADRUNNERS & ANIS Sp S F W ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo o u - - ___ Greater Roadrunner* c c u u ___ Groove-billed Ani r - r -
BARN OWLS Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl* u u u u
TYPICAL OWLS Sp S F W ___ Western Screech-Owl r r r r ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Burrowing Owl* u u u o ___ Long-eared Owl r - - r ___ Short-eared Owl u - u u ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl - - - r
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Lesser Nighthawk* o o o - ___ Common Nighthawk* c c c -
HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird* o o o - ___ Calliope Hummingbird - r - - ___ Broad-tailed Hummingbird o o o - ___ Rufous Hummingbird r r - -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher u o u u
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Lewis' Woodpecker - - - r ___ Red-headed Woodpecker o o o o ___ Acorn Woodpecker - - r r ___ Red-naped Sapsucker o - o o ___ Ladder-backed Woodpecker o o o o ___ Downy Woodpecker o - o o ___ Hairy Woodpecker - - r - ___ Northern Flicker o r c c
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher o - - - ___ Western Wood-Pewee u u u - ___ Western Flycatcher o - - - ___ Black Phoebe* o o o o ___ Eastern Phoebe - - r r ___ Say's Phoebe* c c c c ___ Vermilion Flycatcher* o o o r ___ Ash-throated Flycatcher* u u - - ___ Cassin's Kingbird o - o - ___ Western Kingbird* c c c - ___ Eastern Kingbird r - r - ___ Scissor-tailed Flycatcher o r o -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* a a a a
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow u - - - ___ Violet-green Swallow o - - - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* c c c - ___ Bank Swallow o o - - ___ Cliff Swallow* c c c - ___ Barn Swallow* c a c -
JAYS & CROWS Sp S F W ___ Steller's Jay - - r r ___ Blue Jay o - o r ___ Scrub Jay - - o o ___ Gray-breasted Jay - - r r ___ Pinyon Jay r - o r ___ Chihuahuan Raven* u u u o
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch o - o r ___ White-breasted Nuthatch - r r r
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper r - r r
WRENS Sp S F W ___ Cactus Wren - r r - ___ Rock Wren* u u u u ___ Carolina Wren r - r r ___ Bewick's Wren o - o u ___ House Wren o - o o ___ Sedge Wren o - o o ___ Marsh Wren c - c c
KINGLETS & GNATCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet - - r r ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet u - o o ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher r - - -
SOLITAIRES & THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ Western Bluebird r - r r ___ Mountain Bluebird o - o o ___ Townsend's Solitaire - - o o ___ Hermit Thrush u - - - ___ Wood Thrush - - o - ___ American Robin u o o o
MOCKINGBIRDS & THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird r r - - ___ Northern Mockingbird* c c c o ___ Sage Thrasher u - r - ___ Brown Thrasher o - r - ___ Curve-billed Thrasher* o o o o ___ Crissal Thrasher o o o o
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit u - u u ___ Sprague's Pipit r - - -
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing o - o o
SILKY FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Phainopepla r - r r
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike r - - r ___ Loggerhead Shrike* c c c c
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling u - u u
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo o - r - ___ Warbling Vireo r - r - ___ Red-eyed Vireo - - r -
WOOD WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Tennessee Warbler r - - - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler o - - - ___ Nashville Warbler o - - - ___ Virginia's Warbler r - - - ___ Northern Parula r - - - ___ Yellow Warbler u r o - ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler r - r - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler a - c r ___ Black-throated Gray Warbler r - r - ___ Townsend's Warbler r - - - ___ Yellow-throated Warbler r - - - ___ Black-and-white Warbler o - - - ___ American Redstart o - o - ___ Ovenbird r - - - ___ Northern Waterthrush r - - - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler o - - - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c c u - ___ Wilson's Warbler u r o - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat* o o o -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Hepatic Tanager r - - - ___ Summer Tanager r - - - ___ Scarlet Tanager r - - - ___ Western Tanager u o o -
GROSBEAKS Sp S F W ___ Northern Cardinal r - - - ___ Pyrrhuloxia o - o u ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak o - - - ___ Black-headed Grosbeak u - o - ___ Blue Grosbeak* c u u - ___ Lazuli Bunting o - - - ___ Indigo Bunting o r - - ___ Painted Bunting r r - - ___ Dickcissel r - r -
SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Green-tailed Towhee c - o r ___ Rufous-sided Towhee u - u u ___ Brown Towhee - u u u ___ Cassin's Sparrow* c c c - ___ Rufous-crowned Sparrow o - - o ___ American Tree Sparrow o - o o ___ Chipping Sparrow u r u o ___ Clay-colored Sparrow c - c - ___ Brewer's Sparrow c - c u ___ Field Sparrow r - - - ___ Black-chinned Sparrow r - - - ___ Vesper Sparrow u - u u ___ Lark Sparrow* c c c r ___ Black-throated Sparrow o o r r ___ Sage Sparrow u - u u ___ Lark Bunting u u c u ___ Savannah Sparrow c o c c ___ Baird's Sparrow r - r - ___ Grasshopper Sparrow r - r r ___ Le Conte's Sparrow - - r r ___ Fox Sparrow - - - o ___ Song Sparrow c - c c ___ Lincoln's Sparrow r - o o ___ Swamp Sparrow u - u u ___ White-throated Sparrow r - - r ___ White-crowned Sparrow a r c a ___ Harris' Sparrow - - - r ___ Dark-eyed Junco u - u c ___ Chestnut-collared Longspur u - - u
BLACKBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* c c c a ___ Eastern Meadowlark* c c c c ___ Western Meadowlark* c c c c ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird u u u o ___ Brewer's Blackbird c r c a ___ Great-tailed Grackle u o o o ___ Common Grackle u u u u ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* u u u c ___ Orchard Oriole o o - - ___ Northern Oriole* c c u -
FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Purple Finch - - r r ___ Cassin's Finch r - r r ___ House Finch* c c c c ___ Pine Siskin u - o o ___ Lesser Goldfinch o - o r ___ American Goldfinch u - u u ___ Evening Grosbeak - - r -
OLD WORLD SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* c c c c
ACCIDENTALS OR CASUALS Red-throated Loon Band-tailed Pigeon Pacific Loon Common Poorwill Red-necked Grebe Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet Magnificent Frigatebird Clark's Nutcracker White Ibis Mountain Chickadee Roseate Spoonbill Bushtit Fulvous Whistling-Duck Pygmy Nuthatch Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Greater Scaup Eastern Bluebird Harlequin Duck Gray-cheeked Thrush Surf Scoter Chestnut-sided Warbler Barrow's Goldeneye Worm-eating Warbler Red-shouldered Hawk Cape May Warbler Purple Gallinule Grace's Warbler Common Crane Prothonotary Warbler Ruddy Turnstone Painted Redstart Pomarine Jaeger Bronzed Cowbird Heermann's Gull Audubon's Oriole Red Crossbill

For additional information contact:
                   Refuge Manager
                   Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
                   P.O. Box 7
                   Roswell, New Mexico 88202-0007      
                   Telephone: 505/622-6755
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1989.  Birds of Bitter Lake National Wildlife 
     Refuge, New Mexico.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1989.  Birds of Bitter Lake National Wildlife 
     Refuge, New Mexico.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govbitterlk.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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