Winter Bird Count



Started in 1998, the Winter Bird Count is an annual event that promotes cultural and environmental  awareness within the Community.  This special event features over 80 local and wintering bird species that call the Community’s environment home. Northern harriers, bufflehead ducks, white-crowned sparrows, and gila woodpeckers are among the birds seen each year.


The cultural aspect of the Winter Bird Count brings together the Community, especially youth and elders, to share and celebrate cultural ties to the birds of the Community. Culturally enriching bird songs, dances, and stories at the event are shared by knowledgeable cultural leaders of the Community. Field information gathered through the event is   useful in understanding bird population trends and habitat usage over time.

The GRIC DEQ sponsors the Winter Bird Count and partners with the Huhugam Heritage Center, Audubon Society, Tribal Rangers, and cultural leaders within the Community.








U’uvig A’aga

lark bunting-C




Lark Bunting

S-ba:banmakam are known to gather in large flocks and feed on insects and grain.  They can be seen in large flocks as they wing toward feeding grounds.  Breeding males develop white on their wings in early spring.  The rest of the year the males and females look alike with grey feathers.







In the Creation Stories, Gi:sob survived the flood, and was later transformed into a powerful Makai.  The O’otham year is based on its tail-feathers, which are twelve.  The bird is featured in many ceremonial speeches and O’otham stories.






Western Meadowlark

Its song early in the mornings, reminds O’otham that dawn will soon be approaching.  Thosiv usually followed behind the plow when the O’otham fields were worked, to eat the grubs and larvae exposed by the plow.






Horned Lark

Ba’ichukul can be seen on field edges and the open scrublands feeding primarily on small seeds and the occasional insect.  They prefer the open ground and hop rather than walk.  Breeding males have a black mask and tufts of feathers that appear as horns from a distance.






Belted Kingfisher

In the Creation Story Ba’ivchul, the Belted Kingfisher (a powerful Makai), helped Corn Man create new versions of colored corn in providing for the people.  These birds can still be found fishing in the western part of our community.





Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are associated with agriculture and considered as co-workers by the O’otham farmers.  They follow the plow and eat the worms that can destroy seeds and young plants.  They are abundant in marshes and fields, often in large flocks.






Northern Cardinal

Its color is associated with “Rain” adding its unique song and call to the O’otham landscape.  A year-round resident in Pima country.  Our only crested bird with a conical beak.  Bright red male with black throat is unmistakable.






American Coot

Vachpik are known for their diving ability and for swimming long distances underwater.  In winter they inhabit any water source that provides feed and cover.  They are easily identified by their calls, white bill and red eyes.






Canada Goose

In winter time Hialak will settle alongside man-made water features and open fields.  They can be found in the urban setting as well as isolated water sources.  Their honks are unmistakable as well the large white “chin strap” that wraps around their lower neck up to their ears.



S-chuk Mo’okam Vakoañ


Black-crowned Night Heron

S-chuk Mo’okam Vakoañ have a black crown and back. A white body with yellow legs and red eyes.  They mostly hunt at night or early morning and roosting during the day in trees or in bushes.  They nest on the ground in protected areas among brush, reeds and trees.




Hevel Mo:s


Say's Phoebe

Phoebe & Ash-throated Flycatcher: These two birds are associated with Wind, a powerful Makai who controls the weather.  In English,Hevel Mo:s translates to “Wind’s Grandchildren”.  They can be seen darting for insects from their perches in the trees.







In the Akimel O’otham language, the name means that it owns the Mesquite tree.  With its black coat and red eyes, Phainopepla are often associated with the ripening of the Mesquite bean-pods.  These birds nest where mistletoe berries are available in the early spring.







These small ducks migrate inland from the open seas during the winter months to breed their young.  These small ducks prefer to nest in old woodpecker and gilded flicker cavities in trees.







Gadwalls tend to be isolated and quiet ducks.  They spend their winters dabbling for feed in ponds and other water sources.  They maintain their nests away from water sources and are known to line their nests with feathers.






Northern Shoveler

The breeding males are distinctly colored with a green head, white chest, cinnamon body and white rump.  Its large wide bill helps it forage on pond bottoms.  They spend their winters in marshes, lakes and other suitable habitats.







These are small to medium sized ducks that winter on lakes and ponds.  The males are black, grey and white.  The peaked head helps to identify this diving duck as well as the grey bill and yellow eyes.