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Birding Around Las Vegas
Birding Around Las Vegas: Phainopepla. Verdin. Lucy's Warbler. Crissal Thrasher. Roadrunner. Virginia's Warbler. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. Costa's Hummingbird. Cactus Wren. LeConte's Thrasher. Sage Sparrow. Black-throated Sparrow, ...there really are a few good places to go Birding Around Las Vegas!
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Despite the image of a dry, barren landscape, the desert actually is a vibrant land full of life. Many species of resident and migrant birds occur in the desert, but their numbers generally are low. The few water sources and riparian areas tend to attract and concentrate birds, and therefore most of the better birding around Las Vegas is associated with water. Different species of birds occur in different habitats, so visit the desert, riparian corridors, lakes, and mountains to experience the diversity of bird life around Las Vegas.

This guide provides information on the best places to go Birding Around Las Vegas. The guide is organized into six regions: five regions in and around town, and one region for everything else around Las Vegas. For each region, I present a regional overview with general driving directions and general information, plus links to webpages with specific information on sites in the region. Visitors with little time for birding might want to concentrate on Corn Creek and the Urban Sites, while adventurous birders might want to spend time venturing farther afield Outside the Las Vegas Valley. I've also been adding pages about my favorite birding places around the country; these don't really fit with "Birding Around Las Vegas," but I've had fun working on them.

I'm often asked if I provide guide services; I do through Desert Wildlife Consultants, LLC. I enjoy birding with visitors if I can get out, but I have a demanding day job. Feel free to send an email to inquire about availability. Visitors who want other guides should contact the local Red Rock Audubon Society. The Society leads birding trips every few weeks, and some of the retired members will take visitors out during the week. In addition, personnel at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve often take out-of-town visitors birding. If you don't need a guide, you might consider some specific suggestions or my Birding Trails Around Las Vegas. For a Reno area birding guide, check the Lahontan Audubon Society webpage.

area map

Desert National Wildlife Range. Corn Creek is the best site in southern Nevada.

Urban Las Vegas. Parks and preserves provide good birding for desert and western species.

Red Rocks. A scenic area, the best places to bird are around the springs.

Mount Charleston. Look for breeding birds of the mountain west.

Lake Mead. Good for winter waterfowl and other waterbirds; springs are good for desert species.

Outside the Las Vegas Valley. These sites provide solitude and excellent birding for desert birds and other western species, but the travel times can be long.

Favorite Places Far Away. A collection of particularly memorable birding sites.

In addition to these good birding spots around the Las Vegas Valley, birders might consider:

Birding Trails Around Las Vegas. Spend a day or two in the desert driving from one good birding spot to another.

General Notes

What Kind of Binoculars Should I buy?

If you are thinking to buy your first pair of binoculars, I'd suggest that you get an inexpensive pair of 7x35s with a quick focus, even if you have a big budget. Seven is a good magnification, but not high enough to make hand-shake a problem, and 35 is a good balance with 7x for brightness. Quick focus will help you focus faster on the bird. Often you can get as crisp a view with inexpensive binos ad you can with a more expensive pair. However, the difference is that you can drop expensive binos on the ground or in a bucket of mud and keep using them, but an inexpensive pair will be damaged in either case. Don't get binoculars with variable zoom magnification, as these always are less crisp than fixed-zoom binoculars. Eventually, all inexpensive binoculars will develop damage such that the internal lenses no longer line up properly, but by then if you find yourself hooked on birding, you can get a better pair of binos, but if they end up in the closet, you won't have wasted much money.

I've been birding for more than 30 years, and I know I'll keep at it, so I have a good pair of 10x42s. My wife has more hand-shake than I, so she uses 8x42s. A larger objective would be brighter, but these are amazing binoculars. Of course, we paid up for them, but these likely will be the last pair we ever buy. For knock-around binoculars that I don't care so much about, I have Nikon Monarchs 12x42s. These are good, but considerably less expensive, and I don't worry so much about loosing or damaging them. At 12x, the hand-shake can be bad, but I mostly handle them okay.


Directions to the birding sites give distances "from Las Vegas" or "from downtown." These distances are measured from the Spaghetti Bowl (the intersection of Interstate-15 and U.S. Highway 93/95). These distances are about the same as distances from the Downtown and Strip casinos. All of the distances are approximate; if something seems wrong, assume it is and send me a note.

GPS Coordinates

To help people using global positioning (GPS) devices, I provide longitude and latitude coordinates for the birding sites and various waypoints along the way. Two map datums (different coordinate systems) are commonly used in this area: NAD27 and WGS84. The distinction is important because the same longitude and latitude coordinates refer to different spots on the ground (that is, 36.4383ºN; 115.3575ºW under NAD27 is one spot on the ground, while the same coordinates are a different spot on the ground under WGS84). I use NAD27 (set your GPS to NAD27 CONUS), an older system, because it matches the USGS topographic maps for this area. The difference between the two datums is about 200 yards, so given the precision necessary to find intersections and parking areas, the map datum doesn't matter that much. Avoid all problems and concerns by downloading GPX files and uploading them to your GPS device.

Personal Risks

Travel in the desert, especially during the heat of summer, carries risks. Always carry water, even in town. Any desert travel off the main highways carries extra risks: carry lots of water, food, gas, and tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Don't assume your vehicle air conditioner will keep you cool. Don't assume your cell phone will work. Before you head out, consider what you would do if your vehicle breaks down. Check the Watch Out hiking webpage for more information on hazards in the desert.

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170421

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