Birdspot. On the road. Drawing birds.


A Yellow-throated Warbler in San Antonio, New Mexico.

There are lenticular clouds over the mountains outside my motel room as I write this. I am leaving the Rio Grande River again, this time after trailing alongside it as it winds South through New Mexico, and after pausing along my drive yesterday to check out various spots at its banks and (artificially) dammed lakes. At the top end of Elephant Butte Lake, which I arrived at after taking back roads that were duly described as “irregularly maintained” in the excellent “New Mexico Bird Finding Guide”, I stopped at Monticello Point and had a great time scoping numerous grebes, waterfowl, and a smattering of (not as exciting as hoped for) gulls. Continuing Southward, I added more waterfowl, land birds, and finally, at dusk, the best looks at a Prairie Falcon I have ever had.

I thought I would write out my list for New Mexico, so if you are interested: .

(I reserve the right to modify this list since I am writing it off the cuff and may have forgotten things)

New Mexico, Dec 10-17
General areas: Rattlesnake Springs, Albuquerque, Sandia Crest, Bosque del Apache NWR, Elephant Butte Lake, Caballo Lake and Dam, Percha Dam and State Park, various highway sightings in between:

Snow Goose (white and blue morphs)
Ross’s Goose
Cackling Goose
Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Mallard (incl. Mexican; could be wrong)
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-billed Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Gambel’s Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark’s Grebe
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk (crazy assortment of light to all dark morphs)
Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph, Bosque)
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane (Greater and Lesser)
Spotted Sandpiper
Wilson’s Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
(gull numbers were pretty low when I was at Elephant Butte/Caballo/Percha, that is until I was driving out at dusk, when groups of hundreds materialized from somewhere and flew over my car).
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Inca Dove
Greater Roadrunner
Belted Kingfisher
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
Black Phoebe
Say’s Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Steller’s Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Clark’s Nutcracker
American Crow
Chihuahuan Raven (RS)
Common Raven
Mountain Chickadee
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Rudy-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Swainson’s Thrush (RS)
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Crissal Thrasher
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (all Audubon’s, if I recall correctly)
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler (San Antonio)
Spotted Towhee
Canyon Towhee
Cassin’s Sparrow
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brewer’s Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow (Bosque! funny)
White-crowned Sparrow (varying forms)
Dark-eyed Junco (varying forms)
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Meadowlark sp.
Great-tailed Grackle
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (incl Hepburn’s)
Black Rosy-Finch
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
(WOOT all three, and photos of all to boot!)
Cassin’s Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

An enormous THANK YOU to my lovely hosts and guides Linda, her son Eric, and Bosque Bill – I was so happy to be able to enter your lives and your hospitality was beyond incredible. Also to all of the wonderful people at Sandia Crest, who explained some molt patterns and irregularities in Rosy-Finches, gave me tips on NM/AZ birding, and even let me handle Hepburn’s race Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches! For. The. Win. And thank-you Bruce Neville! I had one of my best sparrow mornings ever, thanks to you.


6 Responses to “You are a long way from home, little bird.”

  1. Didn’t we also see at BdA: Ring-necked Duck, Bald Eagle (imm)?

  2. Wonderful photos, amazing bird list.. So Glad you got to spend time with Linda and Bosque Bill!

  3. lovely! wish we could meet up with you in SE AZ. Xo

  4. The Yellow-throated Warbler does look lonely in the top of that tree. Do you have a picture of the American Kestrel you saw? Thanks again for sharing!

  5. @Bill – at Bosque – duly noted, and corrected! I also had Ring-necks at Elephant Butte. I wonder what else I’ve forgotten…

  6. Wow what a list and beautiful pictures! I got to see a pair of Sandhill Cranes in MN this summer, but I would love to see and hear them in mass! Have a wonderful holiday season on the road.

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