My 14 Best Bird Watching Spots in Nevada You Should Try


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Nevada is probably the state most known for the Mojave desert, even though the desert extends into other nearby states. There are many other bird habitats besides the desert, including wetlands, marshes, forests, and mountains. In fact, 479 bird species have been recorded in Nevada, but knowing where to find them is a challenge, so we put together a list to help you know the best places for bird watching.

The best bird watching spots in Nevada are in the northern and eastern areas, such as at Mount Charleston and in the Great Basin National Park. Red Rock Canyon and Ash Meadows are good areas for a diversity of birds, and you should visit Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge to see waterfowl. 

A table gives the most exciting birds you can see at my top 14 birding spots in Nevada:

PARKINTERESTING BIRDS YOU CAN SEE
Floyd Lamb Park at Tule SpringsRuddy Duck and Bullock’s Oriole
Lamoille Canyon Scenic BywayHimalayan Snowcock and Golden Eagle
Mount CharlestonSteller’s Jay and Townsend Solitaire
Desert National Wildlife RefugeSagebrush Sparrow and Greater Roadrunner
Great Basin National ParkPinyon Jay and Green-tailed Towhee
Henderson Bird Viewing PreserveCinnamon Teal and Western Grebe
Stillwater National Wildlife RefugeLong-billed Dowitcher and American Avocet
Pahranagat National Wildlife RefugeGlossy Ibis and Clark’s Grebe
Ash Meadows National Wildlife RefugeVirginia Rail and Black-necked Stilt
Spooner LakeRing-necked Duck and White-headed Woodpecker
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation AreaChukar and Ferruginous Hawk
Spring Mountain Ranch State ParkWestern Screech Owl and Violet-eared Swallow
Clark County Wetlands ParkSnowy Egret and Verdin
Craig Ranch ParkRed-headed Nuthatch and Wilson’s Snipe
Best Bird Watching Spots in Nevada

Read further to learn about the best spots to bird watch in Nevada and what types of birds you can find in each place.

Best Bird Watching Spots in Nevada
Best Bird Watching Spots in Nevada

TIP: If you are interested in checking out the best pair of binoculars for bird watching, we recommend a pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars (Amazon link).

Best Places to Bird Watch in Nevada

Nevada is a state that many don’t think of when looking for birds, but there is a surprising diversity of habitats and bird species present.  

  1. Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs

This park is located on the northern edge of Las Vegas, which is convenient if you plan to start your bird watching journey by flying into Las Vegas.

The park is 650 acres, with a lake and trees attracting several birds. You should look for the following bird species: Ruddy Duck, Double-breasted Cormorant, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Gambel’s Quail, and Greater Roadrunner.

Other birds in the park include Burrowing Owls, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Black Phoebes, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

The park is like an oasis in the desert, attracting many birds during migration. You should keep an eye out for Yellow Warblers and Bullock’s Orioles that occur in the park during spring migration.

  1. Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

This area is located in the state’s northeastern section, in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The byway is a scenic drive that goes for 12 miles reaching up to 8,800 feet in the Ruby Mountains. You will drive through cottonwoods and aspen forests, which change to conifers as you climb upwards.

You can stop at a campground that is halfway up the canyon. Here you can see birds like Golden Eagle, Dusky Grouse, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Clark’s Nutcracker, and Western Tanager. You can find Himalayan Snowcocks and Black, Rosy-Finches at the mountain’s peak.

  1. Mount Charleston

Mount Charleston is in the state’s northwest area and has an 11,918-foot peak. You can take highways 156 and 157 and follow some side roads to various picnic and campsites. The Visitor Gateway is a center on highway 157 that you should stop at to get more information and maps. 

The area is suitable for higher-elevation bird species, so you should look out for Steller’s Jays and Townsend Solitaires, Cassin’s Finch, Red Crossbills, and Clark’s Nutcrackers.

  1. Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Desert National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest refugees in the country, at 1.6 million acres. It is north of Las Vegas and is a great birdwatching spot.

Vegetation found near the Corn Creek visitors center attracts a lot of species. There are also many trails to walk and rugged roads you can drive on. 

You can find such birds as Greater Roadrunner, Gambel’s Quail, Sagebrush Sparrow, Lucy’s Warbler, Anna’s Hummingbird, and Say’s Phoebe. The refuge is also suitable for finding Scott’s Oriole and Hooded Oriole, both of which breed in the area.

  1. Great Basin National Park

This park is in far eastern Nevada, close to the Utah border. Many bird watchers decide to drive the 12-mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, bird watching along the way.

This drive passes through several different vegetation types on the way to the 13,063-foot peak. You pass through desert scrub, lodgepole pine, aspen, fir, and into the bristlecone pine area as you drive. 

Among the birds seen in Great Basin National Park, you can find Golden Eagles, Williamson’s Sapsuckers, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Rufous Hummingbirds, Common Nighthawks, Pinyon Jays, and Green-tailed Towhees.

It is important to note that the scenic drive may be closed in winter if there is snow and ice. You can check the Great Basin National Park website for information regarding closures. The site also offers more detailed information on where particular bird species can be found in the park.

  1. Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve

This wastewater treatment plant is now a designated bird conservation area. This 140-acre preserve is only a few miles east of Las Vegas. It consists of easily accessible trails and several ponds. They even have a paved path that is wheelchair accessible.

The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve is excellent for seeing gulls and waterfowl. Nesting bird species include the Cinnamon Teal, Western Grebe, Eared Grebe, Ruddy Duck, American Avocet, and Common Gallinule. Rare species have been recorded here, including Black Skimmer and Long-tailed Duck.

Birds can also be seen in the vegetation surrounding the ponds. Bird species such as Marsh Wren, Verdin, and Yellow-headed Blackbird can be observed here.

  1. Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is 79,570 acres in size and is just east of Fallon, Nevada. The area attracts lots of waterfowl and shorebirds due to the present wetlands. It is often described as an oasis in the desert.

A few of the many bird species you can look for here are American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, Canvasback, and Tundra Swan. 

  1. Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

This is a 5,382-acre refuge with at least 500 acres of open water. Meadows, streams, and marshes are also present, providing a habitat for many bird species. Most birder watchers prefer the Upper Lake Trail to find many birds.

The refuge attracts many waterfowl and wading birds. You can expect to find many birds on or near the water.

You can look out for birds such as the Black-crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, Clark’s Grebe, Eared Grebe, and Western Grebe. You can also find land birds like Peregrine Falcons, Willow Flycatchers, and Vermillion Flycatchers.  

  1. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

This is a true oasis in the desert, with Death Valley only a few miles away. The riparian vegetation and wetlands at Ash Meadows attract a variety of birds. You can find shorebirds like American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt and secretive marsh birds like Virginia Rail.

You should keep an eye on the vegetation on land. Greater Roadrunners, Crissal Thrashers, Say’s Phoebes, Black-throated Sparrows, and Sage Thrashers are often present. 

  1. Spooner Lake

Spooner Lake is on the eastern side of Lake Tahoe. You can camp or stay in a cabin here. There are trails you can take to walk on and look for birds. 

Some bird species in the vegetation surrounding Spooner Lake include Western Tanager, MacGillivray’s Warbler, White-headed Woodpecker, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Mountain Quail.

You will likely see Ring-necked Ducks, Osprey, and Common Mergansers on the lake’s open water.

  1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon has interesting vegetation with plants like cholla cactus, junipers, sagebrush, and needle grass. There are also lots of bare red-colored rocks present. This is a scenically beautiful area to visit, and it is suitable for birds.

This is an excellent spot for bird watching, with over 180 species recorded in the area. There is a boardwalk that passes through the meadow.

It is an excellent spot to look for Western Bluebird, Chukar, Juniper Titmouse, Greater Roadrunner, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Ferruginous Hawk. A complete checklist of birds for Red Rock Canyon is available.

A visitor center and restrooms are available in this conservation area. There is a boardwalk you can go on but do note that you will not find much shade on this walk. 

  1. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

This park is found within the Red Rock Canyon region, and it is known as a top bird watching spot. There is a large pond, open pastures, and trees. 

You can find Western Screech Owls and also Long-eared Owls in the park. You can take some trails, such as the Ash Loop Trail, which passes through oaks, cottonwoods, ash, and juniper trees. On this trail, you can find birds such as Lucy’s Warbler and Brown-crested Flycatchers.  

The Overlook Trail passes through mesquite and desert scrub. You can find birds like Violet-green Swallow and Greater Roadrunner along here.

  1. Clark County Wetlands Park

This is a 210-acre park that is found on the eastern side of Las Vegas. It includes water treatment ponds and continues to the Las Vegas wash (a water channel that collects and enters Lake Mead). You can take several trails that pass through mesquite trees and cottonwoods. 

There is a wildlife blind on the North Pond, where you can see Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Great Egrets. Other birds you can look for in the park include Northern Flicker, Song Sparrow, Verdin, and Gambel’s Quail.

  1. Craig Ranch Park

This 170-acre park is in the northern part of Las Vegas and is the site of a former golf course. There are three ponds present and lots of trees. It is worth a visit if you are in the Las Vegas area. At least 130 species of birds have been seen in the park.

Birds to watch include Red-breasted Nuthatch, Costa’s Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, White-winged Dove, and Wilson’s Snipe. There are also waterfowl like Greater Scaup Redhead and Ruddy Duck.

Best Time to Bird Watch in Nevada

Nevada is always good for finding birds, but conditions may vary depending on where you are. In arid areas, days can be very hot, while nights can be very cold. Higher elevation areas may have road closures in winter, so these spots may be best to visit in summer.

TYPES OF BIRDS
SwansNovember
Spring migrants, like warblersMid-May
Best Time to Bird Watch in Nevada

The Nevada State Bird

Mountain Bluebird: The State Bird of Nevada
Mountain Bluebird: The State Bird of Nevada

The Mountain Bluebird was declared the state bird of Nevada in 1967. These birds are gorgeous and easy to identify; the males have bright blue backs, with light blue on the underparts. The females have a blue back and greyish underparts. 

The Mountain Bluebird nests in natural cavities or nest boxes, feeding on insects and other small arthropods. 

Bird Watching Laws in Nevada

It is illegal in Nevada to hunt birds, catch birds or take any part, including the eggs or nests. This aligns with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

My Favourite Equipment for Bird Watching

Bird watching is one of the least expensive hobbies out there, but you still need some equipment to get the most out of it. 

The essential equipment to start bird watching is a pair of binoculars. My preference is 8 X 42 binoculars. The number 8 is how much the magnification is, while 42 is the field of view in millimeters of the lenses.

A pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon is an excellent choice for both beginners and experts. 

In time, you can choose more expensive models and also opt to buy a spotting scope like the Celestron Ultima 80 on Amazon.

These are a lot more expensive compared with binoculars though, so if you are only a beginner, start with binoculars first. A spotting scope is only helpful for birds far away, such as out on a pond or seashore.

Bird Watching Ethics

There are a few rules or guidelines you should abide by as an ethical birder. These are listed below.

  • Do not enter private lands without prior permission from landowners.
  • Follow all the rules in refuges and reserves, including cleaning up any garbage from your campsite.
  • Do not disturb birds on nests.
  • Do not use apps and play songs to call up birds when they are hungry, tired, and breeding during spring and summer.

Conclusion

Nevada is an excellent state for bird watchers, with several species recorded.

There is a more excellent range of habitats than most people realize, including mountains, pine forests, spruce and aspen forests, desert, scrub, and wetlands. You won’t be disappointed by visiting and bird watching the spots I mentioned.

TIP: If you are interested in checking out the best pair of binoculars for bird watching, we recommend a pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars (Amazon link).

Rae Osborn

Rae Osborn is an avid bird watcher and holds a doctorate in Biology. Her interests in birds began as a child growing up in South Africa. She has continued to study birds and has bird watched in the United States and South Africa.

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