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Soaring hawk


China Ranch Date Farm offers a unique birdwatching experience that captivates both avid birders and casual observers alike. As a vital water source in the arid landscape, China Ranch is a welcoming stopover for a myriad of bird species on their migratory journeys. The diverse bird list provided is a testament to the verified sightings of these winged travelers, showcasing the variety of species that grace the area at different times of the year. While some birds are transient visitors, others are permanent residents, providing year-round opportunities for sightings.

Before setting out on your birding adventure at China Ranch, it is important to come prepared. Bring binoculars for clear views and a field guide to help identify the different species you encounter. Due to the intense desert sun, ample water and sunscreen are essential for your comfort and safety. Moreover, China Ranch encourages ethical birdwatching practices: observe the birds from a respectful distance, minimize disturbances to their natural behavior, and leave no trace of your visit to preserve the sanctuary for future generations. Whether you're looking to spot the swift flight of a hummingbird or the majestic soar of a hawk, China Ranch invites you to explore and enjoy the avian wonders it harbors.

Hawks, Eagles, and Kites (ACCIPITRIDAE)

This family includes birds of prey that are known for their keen eyesight and powerful talons. They are typically medium to large birds, adept at hunting with a strong, curved beak.

  • Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)

  • Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

  • Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

  • Marsh Hawk (Circus cyaneus)



Larks are small to medium-sized passerine birds, often found in open areas. They are known for their melodious songs, which males often deliver in flight.

  • Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)


Kingfishers (ALCEDINIDAE)

Kingfishers are brightly colored birds, recognized for their stout bodies and large heads with long, pointed bills, which they use to dive for fish.

  • Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl (ANATIDAE)

This group consists of aquatic birds with webbed feet, including ducks and geese. They are adapted for swimming and floating on water.

  • Gadwall (Anas strepera)

  • Green-Winged Teal (Anas carlinensis)

  • Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)

  • Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)

  • Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

  • Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

  • Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

  • Redhead (Aythya americana)

  • Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)



Swifts are aerial birds known for their rapid, acrobatic flight. They have slender bodies and long, narrow wings, spending most of their lives in the air.

  • White-Throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)

  • Vaux's Swift (Chaetura vauxi)


Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns (ARDEIDAE)

Members of this family are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds, often seen standing still as they hunt for fish in wetlands.

  • Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

  • Green Heron (Butorides virescens)


Nightjars and Allies (CAPRIMULGIDAE)

These nocturnal birds are known for their camouflaged plumage and silent flight. They have wide mouths for catching insects mid-air.

  • Poor-Will (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)

  • Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis)


New World Vultures (CATHARTIDAE)

New World Vultures are large scavenging birds that feed on carrion. They have bald heads, which are thought to be an adaptation for hygiene.

  • Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)


Plovers and Lapwings (CHARADRIIDAE)

These are small to medium-sized birds with rounded bodies and short bills, often found in open land or near water where they feed on invertebrates.

  • Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)


Pigeons and Doves (COLUMBIDAE)

Characterized by their plump bodies and short necks, these birds have a cooing call and are known for their gentle nature.

  • Mourning Dove (Zenaidura macroura)


Crows, Jays, and Magpies (CORVIDAE)

This family includes some of the most intelligent birds, often with strong social systems. They have varied diets and complex vocalizations.

  • Common Raven (Corvus corax)

  • Common Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)



Cuckoos are known for their diverse range of calls and some species' parasitic behavior of laying eggs in other birds' nests.

  • Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)


Falcons and Caracaras (FALCONIDAE)

Falcons are small to medium-sized birds of prey with pointed wings and a notched beak, known for their high-speed dives.

  • Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

  • Sparrow Hawk (Falco sparverius)


Finches, Euphonias, and Allies (FRINGILLIDAE)

These small to medium-sized passerine birds are often brightly colored and have a conical bill for eating seeds.

  • House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

  • Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)

  • Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)

  • Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)

  • Black-Throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)

  • Gray-Headed Junco (Junco caniceps)

  • Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

  • White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

  • Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)

  • Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

  • Black-Headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

  • Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)

  • Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri)



Swallows are small birds with slender, streamlined bodies and long, pointed wings, known for their graceful, agile flight.

  • Violet-Green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)

  • Tree Swallow (Iridoprocne bicolor)

  • Rough-Winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

  • Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)


Blackbirds, Orioles, and Allies (ICTERIDAE)

This family includes birds with strong, pointed bills, and many species are known for their bold or glossy plumage.

  • Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

  • Yellow-Headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

  • Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

  • Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)

  • Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullocki)

  • Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Shrikes (LANIIDAE)

Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of impaling prey on thorns or barbed wire as a food cache.

  • Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius Ludovicianus)

Mockingbirds and Thrashers (MIMIDAE)

These birds are known for their vocal abilities, including the skill to mimic other birds and sounds.

  • Crissal Thrasher (Toxostoma dorsale)

  • Mocking Bird (Mimus polyglottos)



Pipits are small, inconspicuously colored birds that forage on the ground in open country, often wagging their tails as they walk.

  • Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)


Chickadees and Titmice (PARIDAE)

Small, active birds, often found in pairs or small groups. They are known for their curiosity and acrobatic feeding habits.

  • Plain Titmouse (Parus inornatus)

  • Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)


New World Warblers (PARULIDAE)

These are small, often colorful birds, with a generally insectivorous diet. They are known for their vibrant plumage and melodious songs.

  • Lucy's Warbler (Vermivora luciae)

  • Audubon's Warbler (Dendroica auduboni)

  • Black-Throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)

  • Orange-Crowned Warbler (Vermifora celata)

  • Nashville Warbler Warbler (Vermifora ruficapilla)

  • Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

  • Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)

  • Virginia's Warbler (Vermifora virginiae)

  • Myrtle's Warbler (Dendroica coronata)


Quails, Pheasants, and Allies (PHASIANIDAE)

This family includes ground-feeding birds with strong legs, known for their striking plumage and rich calls.

  • Gambel's Quail (Lophortyx gambelii)

  • Ring Necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)


Woodpeckers (PICIDAE)

Woodpeckers are known for their ability to peck into wood to find insects. They have strong beaks and long tongues for extracting food.

  • Red-Shafted Flicker (Colaptes cafer)


Old World Sparrows (PLOCEIDAE)

Typically small birds with stout bodies and conical bills, they are often associated with human habitations and can be very social.

  • House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)



Aquatic diving birds with lobed toes, grebes are excellent swimmers and divers, often seen in freshwater environments.

  • Pied-Billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)


Silky-flycatchers (PTILOGONATIDAE)

These are small to medium-sized birds with silky plumage and a diet that includes fruit and insects.

  • Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)


Rails, Gallinules, and Coots (RALLIDAE)

Rails are secretive birds with slender bodies adapted for moving through dense vegetation, while gallinules and coots are more aquatic.

  • Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)

  • American Coot (Fulica americana)


Stilts and Avocets (RECURVIROSTRIDAE)

These are wading birds with long legs and long, thin bills, known for their elegant appearance and distinctive foraging behavior.

  • American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)


Sandpipers and Allies (SCOLOPACIDAE)

This diverse group of shorebirds has long bills and legs, adapted for foraging in mudflats and along shores.

  • Common Snipe (Capella gallinago)

  • Greater Yellowlegs (Totanus melanoleucus)


Typical Owls (STRIGIDAE)

Owls in this family have large heads, forward-facing eyes, and a nocturnal lifestyle, specializing in hunting at night.

  • Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)


Starlings (STURNIDAE)

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds known for their social behavior and ability to mimic sounds. They are an invasive species deliberately released into Central Park in 1890. They have since spread across the United States displacing native birds.

  • Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)


Gnatcatchers (SYLVIIDAE)

These are small insectivorous birds with slender bills and bodies, often flitting about actively in trees and shrubs.

  • Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura)

  • Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)

  • Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)


Hummingbirds (TROCHILIDAE)

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to their rapid wing-flapping. They are known for their affinity for nectar.

  • Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae)



Wrens are small, brownish passerine birds with an upright tail and a loud, often complex song.

  • House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

  • Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

  • Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

  • Long-Billed Marsh Wren (Telmatodytes palustris)

  • Canyon Wren (Catherpis mexicanus)


Thrushes (TURDIDAE)

This family includes medium-sized birds with soft plumage, known for their beautiful songs and varied diets.

  • Robin (Turdus migratorius)

  • Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)

  • Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

  • Hermit Thrush (Hylocichla guttata)

  • Swainson's Thrush (Hylocichla ustulata)


Tyrant Flycatchers (TYRANNIDAE)

The largest family of birds, known for their flycatching behavior, with a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

  • Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

  • Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

  • Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

  • Traill's Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii)

  • Western Wood Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)

  • Virmilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

  • Western Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)

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