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Rio Bosque has long provided important habitat for birds, with 246 species recorded to date.  Thirty-one of the species found at the park are considered by various entities to be birds of conservation concern.

Common nesting species include Gambel’s Quail, Harris’s Hawk, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Burrowing Owl, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Western Kingbird, Bell's Vireo, Verdin, Northern Mockingbird, Crissal Thrasher, Yellow-breasted Chat, Cassin’s Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting and House Finch.

During the 1990s, a large colony of Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons nested in a saltcedar stand at the park, though they have not nested there since 1999.  Over 100 nests were present in 1999, including the first documented Great Egret nest for the county.

A wide variety of raptors use the park. The peak season is winter, when, in addition to the resident Harris’s Hawks, wintering Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Merlins and Peregrine Falcons all may be present.   Bald Eagles have overwintered in the past, but there has been only one sighting since 2003.  Also of note in winter are large numbers of American Crows and Chihuahuan Ravens that roost in the park’s woodlands.

Blue Grosbeak (Raymond E. Waite)
Summer-resident birds include a number of nearctic-neotropical migrants, such as Bell's Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting, that are restricted in the El Paso region to riparian habitats.  The Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a rare and declining species throughout the western United States, formerly nested in saltcedar woodlands at the park but disappeared when much of the saltcedar was removed in the course of constructing the wetland cells.  In June 2007, cuckoos were observed at Rio Bosque for the first time since 1993, an encouraging first step towards their eventual return as a nesting species. 

The wetland project brought a new element that has greatly increased the park’s avian diversity: water.  Before the project was built in 1997, some 107 different bird species had been found at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, of which 20 were water birds.  Many of those water birds were seen only as they flew over the park.

Today, the park's bird list stands at 246 species, with 78 being water birds.  Thousands of ducks and other water-associated birds now use Rio Bosque when the wetlands are flooded. The ducks attracted to these shallow-water areas are mainly dabbling ducks, including Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and Green-winged Teal.  Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Greater Yellowlegs are other regular users of the wetlands in winter.  In 2001 and 2002, with water present all spring and summer, both Mallard and Cinnamon Teal nested at the park.

Some 21 shorebird species have been recorded at the park, most using the area as migratory stopover habitat.  During years when water is present in spring and summer, 20-30 pairs each of Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets will nest in the park's wetland cells.