Vote for Southwest Bird of the Year 2024

Help us choose the 2024 Bird of the Year from three candidates, each representing one of our centers and a different habitat type.

The American Southwest offers visitors unparalleled access to a myriad of landscapes and habitat types.  It is possible to travel from low desert to tundra in a single day, and to experience the spectrum of temperatures and weather conditions expected with significant elevation changes. From blistering hot low desert to snow-speckled mountain meadow, the Southwest has it all—as well as birdlife as diverse as the terrain. Approximately 750 bird species call the region home for at least part of the year and attract bird enthusiasts from all over the world.

Audubon Southwest proudly stewards bird conservation work in Arizona and New Mexico and many of our outreach efforts emanate from three diverse conservation centers: The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in the Chihuahuan desert grassland (southeast, Arizona), The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in the Sonoran desert (Phoenix AZ), and the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Pinyon-Juniper woodlands (Santa Fe, New Mexico). Each center promotes nationally endorsed bird conservation strategies including planting native plants, protecting water for people and wildlife, and the wholistic management of public forests/open lands.

We have some of the most fascinating birds in the southwest, but which one will be crowned Audubon Southwest’s Bird of the Year? Review our candidates and select your favorite! Vote here.

Burrowing Owl: A fan favorite! The only raptor in the world that lives and nests underground, Burrowing Owls are tiny, weighing about the same as a stick of butter. They are day-active, live in groups, and prefer open landscapes—traits that make them easier to observe than other owls. They do not dig their own burrows, but instead rely on animals like prairie dogs to construct burrows for their use. The combination of urban sprawl and elimination of burrowing rodents leaves many owls homeless, especially in the Phoenix valley. Audubon Southwest is teamed up with the Cave Creek based raptor center Wild At Heart to translocate displaced owls to safe sites on Bureau of Land Management properties. Volunteers are needed to help with the process of building artificial burrows for the birds and assisting with the release process. Learn more about Burrowing Owls and opportunities to help them here. 

Loggerhead Shrike: An underdog many don’t know about, Loggerhead Shrikes are striking in appearance, with a black mask over the eyes to cut glare like a football player. Also known as the “Butcher Bird,” this insectivore’s claim to fame is its expertise at catching prey and impaling them on sharp sticks or barbed wire. In open grasslands or adjacent to agriculture, it is not uncommon to see shrubs or fences decorated with a variety of insects, lizards, even small mice. Common but declining across the southwest, these birds rely on healthy populations of insects and provide a natural form of pest control. If you are fortunate enough to have Loggerhead Shrikes in your neighborhood, you can help them by planting native plants that attract native insects, and encourage others in your neighborhood to also plant mindfully.  For more information on what to plant in your area, check out Audubon’s Plants for Birds. 

Pinyon Jay: Cobalt blue and gregarious, this bird depends on healthy Pinyon-Juniper woodlands for survival. Birds collect and cache (bury underground) piñon seeds and can remember over 90% of the cache sites! Forgotten seeds become future piñon pine trees, so Pinyon Jays provide a valuable tree-planting service.  Drought and habitat conversion are altering this beautiful bird’s habitat in undesirable ways leading to drastic population declines, and this bird was recently petitioned for listing as a US Fish and Wildlife designated threatened/endangered species. Audubon Southwest, along with local partners and the Great Basin Bird Observatory, leads a community science effort mobilizing people to easily report Pinyon Jay sightings on their smart phones. These data help scientists determine current occupancy trends. Join the effort and learn more here.   

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