wildlife of the caja del rio

Like its name suggests, the burrowing owl is a ground-dwelling species that lives in the burrows of other animals, like prairie dogs or gophers. While conservation concerns are dependent on the particular region, the population of the burrowing owl is declining or threatened in many areas due to off-road driving, pesticide use, and prairie dog colony poisoning.

Burrowing Owl

As its name suggests, the burrowing owl is a ground-dwelling species that lives in the burrows of other animals, like prairie dogs or gophers. While conservation concerns are dependent on the particular region, the population of the burrowing owl is declining or threatened in many areas due to off-road driving, pesticide use, and prairie dog colony poisoning.

Elk

Elk

One of the largest members of the deer species, Elk males, or bulls, can weigh hundreds of pounds and stand 5 feet tall at the shoulder. Their population was restored from 1910 and 1966 due to state and private efforts after they were severely overhunted in the late nineteenth century.

Collared Lizard

Collared Lizard

The collared lizard gets its name from the two characteristic black rings around its neck. Unlike other lizards, the collared lizard can run on only its hind legs, if they lose their tail it will not grow back. They may even eat each other in addition to insects like crickets and grasshoppers. 

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Mule deer are known for their oversized ears, which can be nearly the same length as the head. They are selective eaters, only selecting the most nutritious plants and parts of plants rather than large amounts of lower-quality food like grass. Their populations have been dropping for years, which is likely due to human presence and development in their habitats.

Diamondback rattlesnake

Diamondback Rattlesnake

The diamondback rattlesnake is a pit viper that has a diamond shaped pattern on its back. They are highly sensitive to differences in temperature, allowing them to detect prey and avoid predators.

Coyote

Coyote

Coyotes are found in most of North America and Central America, often inhabiting an abandoned den of another species. They are a very vocal animal, utilizing different howls, yips, barks, and whines to communicate specific information to other coyotes.

Greater short-horned lizard (horny toad)

Horny Toad/Greater Short-Horned Lizard

Horny toads are actually lizards, a reptile, not a toad, or amphibian. They are usually less than 4 inches long. Their “horns” are actually pointed scales on the back of the head. Their populations are at risk due to habitat destruction, as well as the use of pesticides that take out many ant and insect species that the horny toad relies on.

Roadrunner

Roadrunner

The roadrunner is a native of the desert southwest. They can outrun a human, with a top speed of 26 mph. They eat poisonous prey like venomous lizards and scorpions, and can even kill rattlesnakes.

Bobcat

Bobcat

The bobcat gets its name from its shorter, “bobbed”, tail that is not as lengthy compared to other wildcat species. They can weigh up to 33 pounds, and are very skilled hunters. While they usually prey on rabbits, birds, and rodents, they can take down white-tailed deer by jumping on its back and biting the throat. 

Photo by <a href="https://pixnio.com/fauna-animals/birds/willow-flycatcher-empidonax-traillii-small-insect-eating-bird-perches-on-a-branch">Menke Dave, USFWS</a> on <a href="https://pixnio.com/">Pixnio</a>

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Endangered)

The Southwest willow flycatcher is a small perching bird, or passerine, that weighs just 11-12 grams. They are federally endangered, which is primarily due to the loss of native, dense riparian habitats that they rely on. The habitat loss is a result of dams, water diversion for agriculture, groundwater pumping, increased development, off-road vehicle use, and more.

Round tail horned lizard

Round Tail Horned Lizard

The roundtail horned lizard has many unique protective characteristics, such as its near perfect camouflage in desert environments, its ability to puff up its body size to appear larger, and spiky horns on its head that make it hard for predators to swallow.

Cooper's hawk

Cooper's Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is about the size of a crow, with a length of 14-20 inches. They have gray-blue upper parts and red eyes. They are relentless hunters, and will pursue prey ranging from small birds to small mammals and snakes.

Black bear

Black Bear

 In addition to forests and sub-alpine meadows, desert riparian landscapes can also be habitat for black bears. With only humans as predators, they can live up to 20-25 years in the wild. The average weight of male black bears is 350 lbs, and 250 lbs for females.

Mountain lion

Mountain Lion

The mountain lion - a.k.a. Puma, cougar, panther, and several other names - live in nearly every habitat in North America. They can run up to 50 mph, and are excellent jumpers reaching up to 18 ft off the ground. 

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep males have horns that weigh up to 30 pounds and extend over 3 feet. Up until the 19th century, they numbered in the millions in North America, and provided a source of food, clothing, and tools for tribes in the mountainous west. One of the most common petroglyphs in the western states feature bighorns. While conservation efforts have helped protect populations, less than 85,000 remain today after encroachment from human settlement drove them to near extinction.

Golden eagle

Golden Eagle

The majestic golden eagle is the largest bird of prey in North America, with a wingspan of 5 to 7.5 feet. They prey on a range of mammals, from smaller ground squirrels and jackrabbits to foxes and young deer. They often mate for life, and work together to build their nests.

Seasonal waterfowl

Seasonal Waterfowl

Several different migratory game birds are local to the Caja del Rio, including the white-winged dove, band-tailed pigeon, the sandhill crane, ducks, geese, coot, common moorhen, snipe, sora and Virginia rail. 

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