Bird identification- Crane

Bird identification- Crane

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What species of crane is this?

Today afternoon, I found this crane among a group of white cranes that were moving around a herd of buffaloes. I live in West Bengal, India if it matters.

Is it an eastern cattle egret,Bubulcus ibis coromandus in breeding plumage?

Yes, this is a cattle egret displaying its breeding plumage.

The cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a cosmopolitan species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones.

Specifically, this is the eastern subspecies, B. ibis coromandus.

B. ibis coromandus [source: Wikimedia Commons]

B. ibis ibis © Larry Thompson, 2007-2015

The cattle egret is the only member of the monotypic genus Bubulcus, although some authorities regard two of its subspecies as full species, the western cattle egret and the eastern cattle egret.

  • The eastern subspecies B. ibis coromandus, described by Pieter Boddaert in 1783, breeds in Asia and Australasia, and the western subspecies (B. ibis ibis) occupies the rest of the species range, including the Americas.

  • The eastern subspecies (B. ibis coromandus) differs from the nominate subspecies in breeding plumage in that the buff color on its head extends to the cheeks and throat, and the plumes are more golden in color.

B. ibis usually feeds in seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands and rice paddies. Their name comes from their tendency to often accompany cattle or other large mammals in these areas, where they catch insects attracted to and small vertebrates disturbed by these animals.

Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, B. ibis has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonized much of the rest of the world in the last century.

[Source: Discover Life]

Major Source: Wikipedia

Sandhill crane

The sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis) is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the lesser sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis canadensis), with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually [ citation needed ] .

  • Antigone canadensis canadensis
    (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Antigone canadensis pratensis
    (F. A. A. Meyer, 1794)
  • Antigone canadensis nesiotes
    Bangs & Zappey, 1905
  • Antigone canadensis tabida
    (J. L. Peters, 1925)
  • Antigone canadensis rowani(disputed)
    Walkinshaw, 1965
  • Antigone canadensis pulla
    Aldrich, 1972
  • Ardea canadensis Linnaeus, 1758
  • Grus minor Miller, 1910
  • Grus proavus Marsh, 1872
  • Grus canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758)

The sandhill crane was formerly placed in the genus Grus, but a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2010 found that the genus, as then defined, was polyphyletic. [2] In the resulting rearrangement to create monophyletic genera, four species, including the sandhill crane, were placed in the resurrected genus Antigone that had originally been erected by the German naturalist Ludwig Reichenbach in 1853. [3] [4] The specific epithet canadensis is the modern Latin word for "Canadian". [5]

Stanley crane News

Most crane species possess red patches of scaly skin on their heads that they use extensively in threat displays. Stanley cranes, along with their close relatives the demoiselles, do not have these red patches, but their head feathers are erect when excited or aggressive.

The long dark feathers trailing to the ground behind these birds are actually wing feathers, not tail feathers. Crane tails are very short and usually not visible unless the crane raises its wings. The crane's legs and feet are black.

Stanley cranes can be up to 3.5 feet (1 meter) long. Females are smaller than males.

This crane has the smallest range of any crane species: 99 percent of the world's 12,000 to 23,000 Stanley cranes live in South Africa. They prefer to feed and nest in dry, grassy uplands. They generally nest in high elevation grasslands, where there are fewer disturbances. During the winter, they move down the mountains to lower altitudes.

Most crane pairs leap and pirouette when dancing. While Stanley cranes also leap and bow, most of their dance consists of the two birds running together with the female in the lead. The excited birds often interrupt their chase to stop and call.

In the wild, these birds eat seeds and insects.

Stanley cranes usually live in pairs with one or two young. During migration, they gather in larger flocks.

Most Stanley cranes prefer to nest in places where they will not be disturbed, but some nest in agricultural areas. They lay two eggs in the grass or on the bare ground. The eggs are brownish-yellow marked with blotches of darker brown and olive. Incubation lasts 30 to 33 days, and the chicks leave the nest after three to five months.

The Stanley crane is the national bird of South Africa, and while this provides official protection, laws are difficult to enforce and often sometimes ignored. Farmers trying to protect crops sometimes poison Stanley cranes deliberately or accidentally, when the cranes eat poisoned bait intended for other species, or after routine dusting of crops.

Closely associated with grasslands, they are sometimes victims of large forestation projects, which convert prime habitat into commercial tree plantations. In some areas of their range, populations have plummeted by 90 percent in just 10 years.

Growing human populations also place greater demands upon the environment as more acreage is converted to agriculture. Some Stanley cranes are captured and used as pets. Only a few cranes nest inside of protected areas, so the future of the Stanley crane depends largely on private landowners.

These factors have given the Stanley crane the distinction of being perhaps the most endangered of all cranes.

  • Support organizations like the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute that research better ways to protect and care for this animal and other endangered species. Consider donating your time, money or goods.
  • Share the story of this animal with others. Simply raising awareness about this species can contribute to its overall protection.
  • Are you a student? Did you love what you learned about this animal? Make it the topic of your next school project, or start a conservation club at your school. You'll learn even more and share the importance of saving species with classmates and teachers, too.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is home to three Stanley cranes. Stanley crane Alice hatched July 7, 2014, and was hand-raised by keepers. Learn more about Alice in this video:

Sandhill Crane

The 2021 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival was a huge online success and a CELEBRATION OF CRANES!

The International Crane Foundation Crane Stories - Join educators from the International Crane Foundation as they share stories about cranes from all around the world! This prerecorded program will be a fun, active way for your young Craniacs to learn about cranes and culture.


Cherokee Removal Memorial-Visit this beautiful place! Not only are the people amazing, but this history should be known and shared.
This park was built as a memorial to the Cherokee Indians who were removed from their homeland and forced on their journey known as "The Trail of Tears". It has a beautiful garden and an overlook of the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers.

Birchwood Area Society Improvement Council (BASIC)- This group’s energy is boundless. You all know them for their smiles and good cooking every year at the Birchwood School.

The principal purposes of BASIC are to harness local initiative and energy to envision, design, and carry out programs that unite and strengthen the Birchwood community by employing available resources.

International Crane Foundation-The International Crane Foundation works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend. You can still support these groups and cranes by learning about cranes and purchasing merchandise.

American Eagle Foundation- Everyone flocks to the Birchwood School for the AES presentation. We do too! Seeing amazing birds has been a gift over the years. The American Eagle Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that has been protecting and preserving the American Bald Eagle and other birds-of-prey for more than 25 years.

Tennessee Valley Authority- TVA joins us each year to help educate on the waters and more in this gorgeous area of the state. The drawdown of the water provides habitat for many shorebirds and winter visitors such as the Sandhill Crane.

TVA was built for the people – to improve the quality of life in a seven-state region through the integrated management of the region’s resources.

The mission focuses on three key areas:

• Energy – To provide reliable, affordable electric power throughout the Tennessee Valley.

• Environment – To be a steward of the region’s natural resources.

• Economic Development – To serve as a catalyst for sustainable economic development.

Cleveland State Community College, Forestry Wildlife and Fisheries Professor Robert Brewer and Students

This group is invaluable, supporting countless TWRA events and volunteering time to help outdoorsmen and women in our region.

The Wildlife Society Student Chapter Cleveland State


Overhill-The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association's (TOHA) mission is to promote and preserve the natural and cultural resources of McMinn, Monroe, and Polk counties through cultural tourism. TOHA's cultural tourism program is designed to:

- Increase visitation to the region

- Act as a catalyst for economic development

- Serve as a tool to educate visitors and residents.

- Support preservation efforts.

Becky’s Bus Service LLC -Miss Becky has been serving the festival for 30 years. Her services and smile are invaluable.


2 nd Nature has been described as front porch pickin’ meets the great outdoors. This group has supported the festival for years and we’ll miss hearing them live. 2nd Nature is an acoustic music group featuring Don King, Brant Miller, and Dave Woodward. You can hear their music or support them at:

Mt. LeConte Jug Band-The Mt. LeConte Jug Band hails from Spring City, Tennessee, on beautiful Watts Bar Lake and is comprised of five friends and neighbors living the dream playing their favorite Grassroots Americana on amplified acoustic string instruments.

Members include Jim Radle (rhythm guitar), Darrell Wallace (lead guitar), Sandy Morgan (bass guitar), Gary Morgan (mandolin), and Chris Hill (6 string banjo, percussion, harp).

They are veterans of the WDVX Blue Plate Special, Tennessee Valley Theatre with Bill Landry of Heartland Series fame, Museum of Appalachia Fall Homecoming, UTC Alumni Events, and various charity fundraisers as well as BBQ's, Tailgates, Fairs, and Festivals.

Their antics on stage and their varied playlist have made them a popular East Tennessee hometown string band for the last ten years.

Tanner Hillis

Tanner has been a favorite on the stage since in first performance three years ago. His soulful, heartfelt singing touches all that hear it.


Find places to view Sandhill Cranes and more in your area:

How to Find the Best Binoculars

Find Events and Connect:

Join Project Feeder Watch!

The Tennessee Ornithological Society

The Tennessee Ornithological Society was founded in 1915 to promote the enjoyment, scientific study, and conservation of birds and their habitat.

Find birdwatching groups in your area:

Just for Kids

The Discover Birds Activity Book is available online…Download a single page or the whole book.

Christmas Bird Count

Local Christmas Bird Count location and contacts can be found at

Other Outdoor Activities

North American Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill cranes are the most numerous and wide-ranging of all worldwide crane species with a population exceeding 1 million. There are six distinct migratory populations of sandhill cranes with breeding ranges extending across North America.

Tennessee Sandhill Cranes

The sandhill cranes migrating or wintering in Tennessee make up a large proportion of the Eastern Population. The Eastern Population of sandhill cranes migrates through and winters in portions of Tennessee and is considered the world’s second-largest sandhill crane population. Tennessee has wintered an average of over 29,000 cranes over the last five years.

Two areas serve as primary migration and wintering areas including the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge where thousands can be seen at one time. Hop-in Refuge and surrounding lands near the Reelfoot Lake in west Tennessee attract several thousand sandhill cranes as well. Smaller groups of cranes can be seen scattered across the Tennessee landscape too.


The Sandhill Crane breeds from western Alaska through the Canadian tundra to the northern United States, with scattered populations in the west, and non-migratory populations in Mississippi and Florida.

The core breeding range lies in south-central Ontario, Michigan, and Wisconsin extending into adjacent Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Quebec. In recent years this breeding range has expanded east to include several of the New England states, as well as south, including Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa.

It winters in the southern United States and northern Mexico. During migration, sandhill cranes congregate in large numbers at staging areas of mid-latitude states.

The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways are the main migratory routes of the Eastern Population. These cranes winter primarily in Florida and Georgia though recently cranes are wintering further north in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and even southern Ontario.

This species was nearly decimated in the east by breeding habitat loss and overhunting in the 1800s and is now making a comeback. Populations have increased over the last 60 years and we may now find over 20,000 cranes in the Hiwassee River area of southeastern Tennessee in winter with thousands seen from the Observation Platform.

There are an estimated minimum 89,000 Sandhill Cranes in the eastern population that passes through and winters in Tennessee. The Sandhill Crane stands over 4 feet tall, with a wingspan stretching more than 6 feet, making it one of the largest birds found in Tennessee.

Description: This tall, long-necked, and long-legged bird is overall gray, with a large tuft of feathers at the rump. The top of the head is red, which is actually red skin, and the cheek is a bright white.

Young birds are overall mottled gray and brown, with a non-contrasting feathered head. Males and females look alike with the male somewhat larger. All species of cranes fly with their necks outstretched.

Length: 4 to 5 feet tall
Wingspan: 5 to 6 feet
Weight: 10 to 14 lbs

Voice: Aldo Leopold, an ecologist and the founder of the science of wildlife management, once wrote about the Sandhill Crane, "When we hear his call, we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution."

The call of the Sandhill Crane will carry more than a mile, and can be heard across Tennessee as this majestic bird passes high overhead during migration, or when stopping in the state to spend the winter.

The call is described as a trumpeting, or bugling, or a resonating, wooden rattle, which can carry long distances. Mated pairs of cranes engage in "unison calling," where the cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The call of young birds can be easily distinguished and resembles a musical purr.

Similar Species:

    in their first year may be confused with Sandhill Cranes, but usually have some white below, not gray. Adult Whooping Cranes are overall white with black wingtips. Whooping Cranes are rare in Tennessee but are often found in the same fields with Sandhill Cranes. are smaller, have no red on the head, and fly with their necks curled against the body instead of straight out. They are generally solitary in winter and usually forage close to water. Sandhill Cranes typically occur in flocks with a few to several thousand individuals in winter.

Habitat: Migrating and wintering Sandhill Cranes are found in wet grasslands, marshes, and grain fields.

Diet: Cranes are omnivorous, eating seeds, berries, cultivated grains, insects, and small mammals from the surface of the ground as well as probing into soil and mud.

Nesting and reproduction: The Sandhill Crane is a long-lived species (20 years or more) and does not successfully breed until 5 to 7 years old, and has one of the lowest reproductive rates of any bird in North America (only one nest in 3 produces a chick that survives to migrate in the fall). An interesting fact is that they mate for life.

Clutch Size: Ranges from 1 to 2 eggs.

Incubation: Males and females incubate the eggs for 29 to 32 days.

Fledging: On average, less than one chick is produced per nest. Young birds forage, roost, and migrate with their parents, usually staying within a few meters of them, for 9 to 10 months.

Status in Tennessee: The Sandhill Crane is an uncommon migrant and locally common winter resident in Tennessee, though numbers appear to be increasing. Fall migration lasts from late October to late December and spring migration is from mid-February through late March.

A few thousand cranes have also been wintering at Hop-In Refuge in Obion County, and over ten thousand on and around the Hiwassee Refuge in Meigs County.

  • Sandhill Cranes only started wintering in Tennessee in the 1990s.
  • The only historical observation of Sandhill Cranes during the winter in Tennessee is from an observation reported by John James Audubon in November 1820 of a large flock of cranes in the vicinity of the Shelby/Tipton County line.
  • There are 6 subspecies of Sandhill Cranes in North America. It is the Greater Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis tabida that migrates through and winters in Tennessee.
  • The oldest known Sandhill Crane was 36 years 7 months old.
  • A Miocene crane fossil, thought to be about ten million years old, was found in Nebraska and is structurally identical to the modern Sandhill crane, making it the oldest known bird species still surviving!

Obsolete English Names: little brown crane, crane

Best places to see in Tennessee: In spring and fall Sandhill Cranes migrate through the state using a corridor that is roughly centered on Pickett and Clay Counties and runs south-southeastwards toward Bradley and Monroe Counties.

Wintering populations can be found at the Hiwassee Refuge in Meigs County, and Hop-in Refuge in Obion County.

Their habit of congregating near the Watchable Wildlife viewing platform at the Hiwassee Refuge from mid-October through February (sometimes into March) provides Tennesseans with one of the most spectacular wildlife watching opportunities in the state.


The cranes are some of the largest birds in North America and they have some of the widest wingspans of all the birds on the North American continent.

There are two types of cranes the Whooping Crane which is the largest and one of the most endangered birds in the world and the other is the Sandhill Crane, which has a sub-species known as the Lesser Sandhill Crane. These two Sandhill Cranes are quite similar in looks and the only real difference is in the overall size of the birds.

The cranes are members of the rail group. They prefer feeding in both pastures and marshes. These birds, much like swans, fly with straight necks, as opposed to herons who fly with their necks curled back to their bodies. The cranes are much more vocal than swans or herons and their bugling can be heard for miles around. There are two rare vagrants that sometimes find their way to western North America the Common Crane and the Hooded Crane.

References to Other Bird Sites:

These are links to websites pertaining to the different birding institutions, societies and organizations here in North America. Some of these same sites are a great asset to seeking out knowledge on birds in other regions of the world. Each of these links offer the user different methods to identify birds, whether it be by regions, habitat, appearance or maybe colour. Knowledge on the possibilities of where and what birds might be present are included.

Hinterland Who's Who Welcome to the Web site for Hinterland Who's Who It all started in 1963, with black-and-white vignettes about the loon, the moose, the gannet and the beaver. For more than 50 years, Hinterland Who’s Who has proudly been bringing Canada’s iconic wildlife directly into Canadians’ homes. Re-launched in 2003, the new series serves to rebuild the connection thousands of viewers made with wildlife through the original series. Welcome to our new website! Have a look around, and learn how you can help ensure that the wildlife remains part of what it means to be Canadian.

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.

The description to follow is taken from the AOS Home Page.

AOS - The American Ornitholgy Society is an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds, enriching ornithology as a profession, and promoting a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds. As one of the world's oldest and largest ornithological societies, AOS produces scientific publications of the highest quality, hosts intellectually engaging and professionally vital meetings, serves ornithologists at every career stage, pursues a global perspective, and informs public policy on all issues important to ornithology and ornithological collections. AOS is distinguished by its tremendous collective expertise, including eminent scientists, conservation practitioners, early career innovators, and students.

ABC - American Bird Conservancy This is an organization started in Europe and is now formed in North America in the 1990's. It bases its goal on four approaches, Halt extinctions, Protect habitat, Eliminate threats and to Build capacity. One of their ways of achieving these goals, is by purchasing and leasing lands around already protected lands and creating larger safe zones for all its habitants.

eBird - TheCornellLab of Ornithology eBird is a must for any individual, who has an interest in birds. This site allows users to sign up and participate in recording birds seen on a daily basis as well as the location, for any bird species seen in the world. In addition, users can use the existing data to search out the location of bird species throughout the year. By using filters, information as to the movements can be determined. Photos can be added to identify individual birds. Migration pattern can be calculated using information by months or years as needed. Range maps can be verified, allowing the users to see where the presence of individual bird species are expected to be at certain times of the year.

NA - National Geographic The Society of National Geographic provides some of the best books available for those who have an interest in birds. The book called "The Complete Birds of North America", is a book recommended to be part of any birders library. This book covers all the native and vagrant species of birds seen on the North American Continent. It provides information on all the birds listed on the ABA bird list. This book goes into great details, describing the individual species and their races. That aside, their website provides wonderful information pertaining to many articles regarding nature.

NAC - National Audubon Society The National Audubon Society is the oldest organization in North America. It was initially formed for the preservation of egrets and herons as well as waders, who were being hunted and killed, so their feathers could be used in the clothing industry. Today, there are many chapters of the NAS all over the continent and all individual groups have a common goal, to educate the public. In doing so, creating awareness of the birds and their plights. They were the driving force in promoting the original international laws, protecting migratory birds. Today, their website has made information available on articles, images and sounds, relating to all the native birds seen in North America.

I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Bird Identification Tools

Online Tools

Use these websites to compare your photos and observations of birds in Florida against some of the largest databases of bird information in the world.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This highly respected research center provides an online tool to help you narrow down “what bird was that?” The All About Birds guide features options to search by keyword, taxonomy (family of birds), or shape. Its database includes all birds in North America, including those only found in Canada or Mexico.
All About Birds


The Audubon Guide to North American Birds is a great help in pinpointing specific features of a bird you’ve seen. It includes an excellent database of images showing young, juvenile, immature, and color morphs of species, as well as sound clips.
Audubon Guide

50 Bird Species and the Sounds They Make

Use our quick, clickable guide for identifying backyard birds by the sounds they make! Chose any of these popular species to hear its typical bird sounds, from vocalizations of parrots to the chirping of songbirds. As you?re gardening in your backyard or wandering in the woods, you might be able to use our guide to identify a few distinctive bird calls. Identification of songbird sounds has a rich history in the past, it was fairly complicated and frequently required mnemonics. For instance, the blue jay is recognized for singing ?queedle, queedle, queedle,? and the mourning dove sound can be written as ?hooo-ah hoo-hoo-hoo.? The northern flicker sounds like ?squeechu-squeechu-squeechu,? which might be easy to confuse with ?queedle? unless you?ve heard it in the wild yourself! It?s also helpful to consider where you are when you?re trying to identify birds check out the maps to see if a particular bird is actually found in your area.

Today, identification is easier when you can listen to birds singing in short sound clips. Click a bird to hear birds tweeting their ?language.? Note that some of these birds have different sounds based on the situation, too. For instance, many songbirds have an ?alarm? noise along with its normal tittering that can sound a little different. Tweets can also have a different tune than full calls. But this list of 50 birds should certainly be able to get you started!

More Interesting Facts

  • Which one is the The SMALLEST Bird Alive .
  • This bird can HIBERNATE for months: the Common Poorwill
  • The Oldest Parrot: Blue & Gold Macaw
  • The ONLY Birds that Can Fly BACKWARDS: Hummingbirds
  • The largest flying parrot species is: The Hyacinthine Macaw
  • The World's Rarest Wild Parrot: Spix's Macaw
  • The parrots that build "bird condominiums" : The Quaker Parrot
  • The Most Common Hawk in North America
  • The Eurasian Eagle Owl is World's Largest Owl
  • The record holder for speaking most words: the common Budgie (with over 1,700 words)

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Please note: Any content published on this site is commentary or opinion, and is protected under Free Speech. It is only provided for educational and entertainment purposes, and is in no way intended as a substitute for professional advice. Avianweb / BeautyOfBirds or any of their authors / publishers assume no responsibility for the use or misuse of any of the published material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Carolina Bird Club

The Carolina Bird Club is a non-profit organization that represents and supports the birding community in the Carolinas through its website, publications, meetings, workshops, trips, and partnerships, whose mission is

  • To promote the observation, enjoyment, and study of birds.
  • To provide opportunities for birders to become acquainted, and to share information and experience.
  • To maintain well-documented records of birds in the Carolinas.
  • To support the protection and conservation of birds and their habitats and foster an appreciation and respect of natural resources.
  • To promote educational opportunities in bird and nature study.
  • To support research on birds of the Carolinas and their habitats.

The Carolina Bird Club, Inc., is a non-profit educational and scientific association open to anyone interested in the study and conservation of wildlife, particularly birds.

The Club meets each winter, spring, and fall at different locations in the Carolinas. Meeting sites are selected to give participants an opportunity to see many different kinds of birds. Guided field trips and informative programs are combined for an exciting weekend of meeting with people who share an enthusiasm and concern for birds.

The Club offers research grants in avian biology for undergraduate and graduate students, and scholarships for young birders.

The Club publishes two print publications (now also available online). The Chat is a quarterly ornithological journal that contains scientific articles, reports of bird records committees and bird counts, and general field notes on bird sightings. CBC Newsletter is published bimonthly and includes birding articles and information about meetings, field trips, and Club news.

The Club provides this website to all for free.

By becoming a member, you support the activities of the Club, receive reduced registration fee for meetings, can participate in bonus field trips, and receive our publications.

Other Resources (NOT sponsored by Carolina Bird Club)

The Southwest: tanagers, buntings and shorebirds

It’s hard to make a bad choice about where to go birding in the Southwest. But it will be a hard choice: There’s Texas, with 650 species, second only to California Arizona, with its 550 visiting and resident species and, sandwiched between them, New Mexico, similarly diverse.

April and May are especially busy on Texas’s Gulf Coast, where millions of northbound migrants stop off at the first tree-filled oasis on land: coastal High Island, about 80 miles from Houston. After high winds or a storm, they will descend in flocks — primary-colored tanagers and buntings, among others — known as a “fallout” after flying nonstop more than 500 miles.

In addition to its size, the state’s geographic diversity — from swamps to deserts, subtropical forests to alpine ones — accounts for its birding diversity, as demonstrated at Big Bend National Park in West Texas. Here, more than 450 species have been recorded in habitats ranging from desert floor to pine-oak-juniper woodlands in the Chisos Mountains.

“All the different habitats have a different suite of birds,” said Cliff Shackelford, the state ornithologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Like the Chisos, the isolated mountains of southeastern Arizona are often called “sky islands,” emerging from oceans of desert.

“The sky-island effect provides varied habitats in a small space,” said Luke Safford, the community engagement manager with the Tucson Audubon Society in Tucson, Ariz.

In the Santa Catalina Mountains just north of Tucson, for example, woodpeckers include “the Gila woodpecker in the Sonoran Desert, ladder-backed woodpeckers in lower elevation habitats, then the Arizona woodpecker common in Madrean evergreen forests and hairy woodpeckers in ponderosa pine and Canadian boreal forests,” Mr. Safford said. “You can see them all in an hour going up into the mountains.”

Similar conditions can be found in the Chiricahua and Huachuca mountains. The Huachucas, about 85 miles southeast of Tucson, are known for supporting the largest number of breeding pairs of elegant trogon in the country and 15 varieties of hummingbirds.

After California, Texas and Arizona, New Mexico ranks as the fourth most biodiverse state, according to The Nature Conservancy. “There are several dominant ecological regions that converge in and around New Mexico,” said Kim Score, a wildlife biologist and birding guide based in Albuquerque. “Albuquerque is smack dab in the center of the state so it’s very easy to access a lot of these different habitats and life zones.”

Among them are: the Melrose Migrant Trap in the state’s eastern plains, an oasis for wood warblers in a small forest amid vast grasslands the Rio Grande, which runs the length of the state, providing a green ribbon of water and trees and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, in San Antonio, N.M., where fields are flooded seasonally to mimic the formerly wild pattern of the Rio Grande. The refuge draws thousands of sandhill cranes in winter. After they leave in spring, through mid-May, flycatchers, vireos and warblers replace them, along with migrating shorebird species, including plovers, curlews and stilts.

“There’s always something to see,” Ms. Score said. ELAINE GLUSAC