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Be a Friend to Birds

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The Species: Birds, the Wings of our City!

From Sandhill cranes in the Bosque to hummingbirds in our backyards, Albuquerque is home to hundreds of migratory and resident bird species, soaring through the sky and filling the air with song.

Songbirds, raptors, roadrunners and ravens all rely on our open spaces, parks, backyards and balconies for resting, feeding, nesting, and raising their young.

Enjoy the presence of our feathered friends but keep your distance! All migratory birds are protected by federal law.

See the Birds Fact Sheet!

Did You Know?

Albuquerque is an Urban Bird Treaty City, recognized for its efforts to protect and enhance habitat for migratory birds, including cranes, hawks, warblers, hummingbirds, and many other species. City residents can participate through birding and creating bird-friendly spaces around their homes.

⇒ Get your patio, balcony or yard certified as bird and pollinator-friendly and receive a yard sign online.

Curious About Our State Bird, the Roadrunner?

They might be curious about you, too! Roadrunners are not shy, and you may see them sunbathing in the morning or coming to explore your yard. But don’t be tempted to lure and feed them: roadrunners are fierce carnivores. They are one of the few animals that eats rattlesnakes, and they enjoy scorpions and tarantulas. While lizards are their diet staple, roadrunners also hunt small mammals, so beware if you have a very small pet!

Roadrunners grow to the size of a scrawny chicken, with a distinctive crested head, heavy bill, and a foot-long tail. They can fly in short bursts, but it’s obvious what they do best: running, up to 15-20 mph! They tire quickly, however, and only sprint to catch lizards or escape a threat.

Despite their fierce nature, roadrunners suffer from habitat loss due to urban sprawl and traffic. Please keep our state bird safe by not feeding them, driving carefully, avoiding pesticides, and keeping cats indoors.

The Challenges: Birds in a Human Environment

Birds need your protection! 1 in 4 birds have been lost in the last 50 years. That’s nearly 3 billion fewer birds in North America. This loss includes common species such as finches, warblers and swallows.

Tips for Feeding Songbirds

  • Provide clean water
  • Feed in late winter and early spring
  • Use a squirrel-proof bird feeder, don't feed on the ground
  • Feed birdseed, not human food
  • Ensure that birds can safely eat insects: don't use insecticides
  • Grow native plants

Love hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds visit New Mexico in the summer, and you may offer them 4 parts water mixed with 1 part white sugar to help fuel their high metabolism.But natural food sources are healthier: plant flowers that hummingbirds love, such as salvias and penstemons. Flowers also attract protein-rich insects, which are a key part of hummingbird diet.


DID YOU KNOW? Window Collisions Kill Nearly 1 Billion Birds Each Year!

Millions of birds die each year because they strike windows, especially during spring and fall migrations. Many birds hit our home windows, often unnoticed by us.

You can help birds see the glass not the reflection!

TIPS for making your windows safer:  

  • Keep bird feeders & baths very close to windows (max 3 ft)
  • Hang strands of thin cord, strings, or ribbons in front of the problem window, spaced closely (up to 4” apart).
  • Apply subtle but dense patterns of visible markings (small dots or lines) to the outside of your window, using bird tape, safety film, or removable paint.
  • Use bug screens year-round.
  • Use external sun shades or awnings.
  • Close exterior shutters or pull down exterior solar shades when you’re not there.

Protect Raptors at Risk

You may occasionally see raptors, or birds of prey, such as eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons, although they are not common backyard birds. Raptors are at the top of the food chain, yet they breed slowly and produce only few offspring. This makes them sensitive to threats, such as habitat loss, climate change, poisoning, electrocution on overland wires, and collisions with cars.

Be a friend to raptors: don’t use poison to control rodents, it may kill the owls and other raptors that eat rodents. 

⇒ Remember: Raptors control the population levels of rodents and snakes.

Baby Birds: Do They Need Your Help?

  • As with most wildlife, the best thing is usually to leave them alone.
  • During spring months, you’ll see young birds hopping around on the ground. These are fledglings learning to fly. They are still being cared for by their parents, who are likely close by. Leave fledglings alone and keep your pets away.
  • If you see a naked baby bird on the ground, they may be a nestling who has fallen out of the nest. Carefully put the nestling back into the nest or, if you don’t see a nest, put the chick in a nearby shrub. The parents will hear them, and it's not true that they will reject the baby just because you handled them.

Action Tips: Be a Friend to Birds! ❤ What You Can Do

Fun Fact

The common city pigeon, or rock pigeon, was likely the first bird tamed and bred by humans, as shown in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the early 1600s, it was brought to North America as a domesticated barnyard animal. Some pigeons were trained as messengers, thanks to their remarkable ability to use the earth’s magnetic fields to find their way home. During World War I and II, several pigeons were even awarded medals for saving human lives!

As much as we all enjoy birdsong, at times certain birds may appear as a bit of a nuisance. Here are some tips for getting along with birds:

The words Tip #1

How to Keep Pigeons at Bay

Fresh bird droppings do not pose a health risk, but please avoid contact with any animal droppings.

  • Don’t feed pigeons, and don’t poison pigeons - it’s against city law!
  • Don’t attract pigeons by feeding songbirds on the ground - use a bird feeder instead.
  • Use wires, angled wood or metal strips, or netting to deter roosting on balconies or ledges.

The words Tip #2

How to Prevent Birds From Eating Your Fruit

Birds like fruit and berries as much as we do! If possible, share your gardens’ bounty.

If you want to limit bird access:

  • Cover your berry bushes, cherry trees, and tomato plants with netting once flowering ends.
  • Use the netting with the smallest holes you can find (¼ inch mesh or smaller would be best), and prop the netting up with stakes, poles or a frame to avoid entangling birds or other wildlife. Don’t leave unused netting lying around in your yard.

The words Tip #3

How to Avoid Dive-Bombing Birds

Some bird species may dive-bomb humans when they feel threatened or are defending their nests. Many city parks are home to Cooper’s Hawks, who breed in May and June and are very protective of their nest sites. Hawks usually try to avoid humans, but they will try to deter you from getting close to their eggs or young. Once their babies turn into fledglings in July, the protective behavior will stop.  

  • Keep your distance: If you spot a hawk’s nest or young, or see it circling overhead and hear warning calls, leave the area.
  • Don’t turn your back and don’t run: face the hawk and walk away.
  • Duck to move out of the bird’s flight line.
  • Wave your arms and be loud: hawks don’t like loud noises and big movements.
  • Carry an umbrella, wear a hat and sunglasses: if you can’t avoid the area, protect yourself.
  • Set up a flag in your yard: hawks don’t like unexpected movements.

The words Tip #4

How to Keep Pets Safe

Raptor birds such as hawks and owls hunt small mammals, mainly mice and rats. Most dogs and cats are large enough to be safe. Raptors cannot carry more than their own body weight (about 3 pounds), and they won’t prey on an animal they cannot lift. In rare cases, a Red-tailed Hawk or a Great Horned Owl may attack a small pet, whereas small backyard hawks like the Cooper’s Hawk won’t present a risk.

  • Small pets, including puppies and kittens, should always be supervised. Remember, small dogs and cats are also at risk from coyotes, raccoons, foxes, bears, among others.
  • Pet rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens should be in a coop or enclosure with a wire top.
  • Don’t feed your dogs outside; it attracts rodents and other wild animals.
  • Keep your dogs and cats away from any bird nesting sites.
  • When hiking with a tiny dog, consider dressing your dog in a shiny, reflective coat that confuses the vision of wild birds (and also helps with traffic safety – a more common risk for dogs).

Worried About Avian Flu?

Avian flu doesn’t usually infect people, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. And our garden birds are much less likely to contract avian flu than poultry and waterfowl. Even if they do, they don’t transmit the disease easily.

  • It’s fine to continue feeding songbirds.
  • Avoid handling sick or dead birds and keep pets away from them.
  • Always keep your distance from wildlife.

Just Ask: Need Help?

Remember, wild birds are protected by law, and handling birds should be left to licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

  • If you find an injured bird, contact a rehabilitator before you attempt to help the bird:
  • If you find an injured raptor, roadrunner, raven or crow, call the Raptor Rescue Hotline at 505-999-7740 Or visit the raptor rescue website.

Five Tips for Being a Friend to Birds

  • Make your windows safer for bird.
  • Grow native plants to create a bird-friendly space.
  • Avoid pesticides and rodenticides.
  • Keep your distance, especially from nesting sites.
  • Keep cats indoors.

Be a Friend To Wildlife ❤ ABQ Wildlife Coexistence

Albuquerque is home to over 850 animal species, many of whom roamed these lands long before our city's founding. They are important city residents who help maintain healthy local ecosystems. Always Enjoy Wildlife from a distance.

Be a Friend to Wildlife: Dos & Dont's

Don't feed wildlife (except songbirds)
Don't feed pets outside
Don't leave pet waste
Don't use chemicals or poisons

Do keep your distance
Do seal garbage &compost
Do plant native flowers
Do supervise your pets
Do stay on trails