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April 16th, 2017

Birds in El Paso

One particular aspect of El Paso that adds to its uniqueness are the beautiful Franklin Mountain ranges that run directly through the city. The highest point of the mountain range peaks at 7,192 feet and runs for 23 miles through two states. Within the mountain range itself is the largest State Park in the nation, lying completely within the El Paso city limits and is used for hiking, mountain biking, picnics and sight-seeing. The Franklin State Park was established as a refuge for plants and animals, and is also home to a wide variety of bird species.

Unique Array of Bird Wildlife

Within the boundaries of the El Paso County comes a unique array of bird wildlife that inhabit the desert mountain ranges, including the surrounding lands of the Chihuahuan Desert. The geographical location of El Paso creates a hot, dry, windy and sandy environment, but there are also waterways, plant life, hills, caves and valleys that suit many species of bird life. The unique features of outdoor elements in El Paso have evolved over the centuries into a special combination of mountainous beauty and flat desert landscape, and with this special landscape of ours comes a suitable list of feathered friends that include the Black-Chinned Hummingbird and Curved-Billed Thrasher just to name a few. Just ask any El Paso homeowner and they're sure to describe in detail the sound of a humming bird flapping its wings to and from the nectar feeder, or the whimsical sounds of a songbird singing in a shade tree.

Bird Watching

Are you a bird watcher? There's no telling what species of bird will show up in the lens of your binoculars while observing El Paso's natural habitat. There are areas throughout the El Paso county that have their own unique traits that set them apart from each other, and each one of them offering different possibilities for surprise show-ups from your favorite avian friends.

  • Featherlake Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
  • Franklin Mountains State Park
  • Rio Bosque Wetlands Park
  • Keystone Heritage & Desert Botanical Park
  • River Park Trail
  • Billy Rogers Arroyo Park & Nature Preserve
  • El Paso Museum of Archaeology & Wilderness Park
  • Hawk Alley
  • Ft. Bliss Ponds

Diverse Bird Population

Ask anyone who has lived in El Paso for a long time and they will tell you that there are species of birds that would otherwise be unassuming to people who are not familiar with the El Paso area. American Robins, Lake Seagulls, Desert Cardinals and American Bald Eagles are not birds you expect to see if you were just passing through. However, home-grown El Pasoans' know the desert mountain ranges and surrounding lands of the Chihuahuan Desert like they know their own backyards, and they have seen and appreciate the diverse bird population in El Paso.

Burrowing Owls

The Southwest Desert accommodates Burrowing Owls, a small, long-legged species of owl that spends most of its time hopping in and out of its borrowed holes in the ground. While the majority of owl species are suspended cavity nesters, Burrowing Owls are mainly ground-hopping creatures that nest underground.

Great Egret

Birds that are only occasionally seen in the El Paso region, such as the Great Egret, have learned to adjust to the desert southwest conditions either by sudden adaptation or by migrating through the Central Flyway. Whether our feathered friends stick around for the year or fly south for the winter, they're not only birds of various colors, shapes and sizes, but also birds with strong instincts and survival abilities that keep them alive in hot, cold, windy and dusty weather conditions.

Glossy Ibis

The Glossy Ibis is a large bird that occasionally shows up in El Paso via the Central Flyway. Glossy Ibis's like to gather in flocks and look for places to wade in shallow marshes, flooded fields, small ponds and irrigation canals, probing the water and mud for food with their sickle-shaped bills. If you are fortunate enough to see a Glossy Ibis, you'll notice their shiny feathers, brownish bill, dark facial skin divided above and below in blue-gray colors. During mating season, adults have reddish-brown bodies and shiny bottle-green wings, cobalt blue face with reddish brown legs.

The Glossy Ibis is fairly new to North America. It came here from Africa and probably flew across the Atlantic to somewhere on the upper tip of South America in the early 19th century. It then slowly expanded its journey north to the southern United States border, and from there it spread to states between Florida and Texas, and north to Maine.


Some El Pasoans' might say, "there’s a flock of Robins in my backyard!" Well, even in winter months, these migratory birds might just choose to stick around if they can find shelter and enough food. Sometimes Robins may form flocks, which can range in size. You'll see them pulling worms out of your lawn grass, and they won't waist time flying back up into the trees where they love to roost and hang around. If you want to see a robin in your El Paso yard, try serving dried or fresh fruit in a bird-feeder and providing a source of clean water year-round. And if you want them to hang around for the winter, sometimes they will stay if they can find some type of bird platform structure that will keep them feeling safe and secure.

The Central Flyway

A Flyway is a path of airspace defined by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and used to manage migratory birds during their migratory journey. El Paso is located on the western edge of the Central Flyway, one of four administrative Flyways (Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and it's affiliates manage migratory birds based largely on these routes as birds migrate between nesting and wintering areas. The specific purpose of the Flyways were to facilitate management of the specific species of migratory birds and their habitats.

The Central Flyway Council was formed in 1948. Their mission: "To provide leadership in the international conservation of migratory game birds and build partnerships among public and private groups interested in this valuable wildlife resource."

The Central Flyway Council consists of representatives from their respective state, provincial, or territorial wildlife agencies that have management responsibilities for migratory bird resources in the Flyway.

There are three technical committees that have management responsibilities, and they are responsible for evaluating the population and habitat of the bird species that use the Flyway. The information they gather is used to make recommendations to the Councils concerning the behavior of migratory birds, as well as conservation.

A perfect balance of connected desert planes, and more...

El Paso and the southwest borderland is a beautiful place to live. Anyone who has lived here long enough can appreciate the perfect balance of connected desert planes, mountain ranges and river valleys that make the whole Southwest so unique. Ask any El Pasoan and they'll say,.."I love El Paso!"