Ruidoso Birding and Our Tiniest Residents

So Many Reasons to Visit Ruidoso. It’s a Bird’s World.

This is not another one of the typical “10 Reasons to Visit” articles. This article is about those creatures of the sky that grace our presence in wind, rain, yes… even in snow… and in the heat of summer.

They are the fast and furious, fascinating, flying fiends that attract visitors from all over the world especially during migration and breeding seasons. If you’re thinking about hummingbirds… you’re partially right.

But Ruidoso isn’t just host to seventeen different breeds of hummingbird… it is home to countless, different types of birds.

Types of Birds in Ruidoso

Big birds, small birds… water loving birds and tree hugging birds. If you’re a birding enthusiast Ruidoso is guaranteed to please.

Bird’s nest on Leathers with Style sign in Midtown.
Photo by Taelor Martinez

The following is a list of some of the birds that are commonly seen in the village of Ruidoso, as well as in the mountains, according to the Lincoln County Bird Club:

  • Acorn Woodpecker
  • American Robin
  • Barn Owl
  • Black-Chinned Hummingbird
  • Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Canada Goose
  • Common Nighthawk
  • Common Raven
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Horned Lark
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Song Sparrow
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Western Tanager

This list is just a short list of the many birds that are either permanent residents or seasonal visitors. Check out the full list.

In my travels across New Mexico, I’ve seen numerous, different varieties of birds, but I am drawn to the hummingbirds. These little angels are seen in many different parts of the country but they thrive in the mountains of Ruidoso.


As a native Texan, I’ve participated in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Backyard Hummingbird Survey, for years. So, I’ve learned a lot about them. I’ve typically seen Ruby Throats and Black Chins. Black-Chins are very common in Ruidoso, along with the Calliope, Rufous and more.

Black Chin Hummingbirds (Most Common)

They’re called Black-Chin because of their black gorget or neck. But you want to photograph these little guys in the sun, because when the sun hits them just right, their true colors are prominent. This is when you can see the velvety purple band on the neck of the male Black-Chin. Zoom in to see a white speck above the eye on the male.

ruidoso birding
Male Black Chin.
Photo by Jamye Gilbreath

The female Black-Chin, is not considered to be as pretty as the male, as is common with a lot of birds. For instance, when you see a red Cardinal… that’s the male. It’s more difficult to distinguish the breed in the female because of their more generic colorings. The female Black- Chin are easily confused with the Anna and Ruby-Throat.

Female Black Chin.
Photo by Jamye Gilbreath

The female Black-Chin is a wee bit bigger than the male. Length about 3.5” and weight approximately .1-.2 oz. They have metallic green backs, like the male, but have a pale white neck and front. 

The mating ritual of the Black-Chin is pretty cool. When the guy sees a gal that he finds attractive he puts on an acrobatic show like no other bird. He goes into a pendulum-like dive at a speed of approximately 60 mph. During this dive, his wings and tail feathers make a loud, whistling sound. The Black-Chin’s chatter is a distinctive chirping sound that is prominent when they feel threatened or territorial.

After mating, the female has the chore of hatching and raising the young (usually two are hatched at a time. The nest is the size of a walnut and the eggs are the size of peas. After about two weeks, you’ll see two young hummingbirds at your feeder. Mama has done her job. The process is repeated up to three times a year.

Spring migration of the Black-Chin is typically in March/ April and Fall migration is in September/ October.

Hummingbird Feeding

Hummingbirds feed off of the nectar of flowers and prefer flowers that are trumpet shaped and red, but will feed off of any plant with nectar, as well as small insects.

Hummingbird feeders are a must for migration as they fly hundreds of miles a day and need nourishment in order to arrive safely in our little village, where they will breed and provide entertainment for the entire summer.

(If you ever see a hummingbird hanging upside down on a twig or feeder, don’t worry! They’re probably asleep, also known as torpor.)

Here’s a simple recipe for homemade nectar for your feeder:


4 cups water (boiled if city water…to remove chlorine and fluoride)

1 cup ordinary table sugar (do not use honey or stevia)

Add sugar to warm or hot water so it dissolves well. Allow to cool to room temperature before putting in feeders. Keep unused mixture in refrigerator.

Change nectar in feeders once or twice a week, more often in hot weather. Keep feeders clean and free of mold and insects.

Birders from all over the world come here to catch a glimpse of our fleeting, feathered friends. Ruidoso is the perfect backdrop for that once in a lifetime photo of a rare Osprey or common Raven.

ruidoso birding
An Osprey caught a trout, at Alto Lake near Ruidoso, NM.
Photo by Mark Stambaugh

So grab your binoculars and camera and get out there. Don’t forget to share your photos with us. See you in the village!

-Jamye  Gilbreath

Texas Writer