A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

New Mexico: Birding the Land of Enchantment 2024

February 3-10, 2024 with Cory Gregory guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our tour had the good fortune of visiting Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge several times. One of the highlights from our visits there were the thousands of geese and cranes. One morning, we spent a magical hour watching Sandhill Cranes, like this one, drift down into the fields in front of us. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

This was such a fun and unique trip on so many levels. New Mexico, the fifth largest state, sits squarely in the southwest yielding many species birders are familiar with from Arizona. But New Mexico has some things that Arizona lacks and this winter trip really highlighted why winter birding in New Mexico can be so rewarding.

Using Albuquerque as our home base for a couple of nights, we first visited the flat county to the southeast where we started scoring great birds right off the bat. Pinyon Jays swarmed around us, a Ferruginous Hawk soared right overhead, and Chihuahuan Ravens scoured the fields in their characteristic flocks. That afternoon, because of a winter storm, we saved Sandia Crest for later. Instead, we visited some birdy spots in town including Tingley Lagoon and we even scored six species of geese at one spot (the rare Brant being the highlight).

We eventually made it up to Sandia Crest, but through some very snowy mountain roads indeed! Where other vehicles had to turn around, we continued upwards thanks to our 4x4 Jeep! Although our first visit didn't yield any rosy-finches, a second visit did the trick and we eventually came away with good looks of both Brown-capped and Black Rosy-Finch.

Farther south, birding took on a completely different feel. We visited the famous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge several times scoring some great birds like Trumpeter Swan, White-tailed Kite, and, yes, eventually a roadrunner. Whew! However, the main attraction were the thousands of Sandhill Cranes and geese lighting up the morning sky. We really came to appreciate that Bosque del Apache is indeed one of the premier spots in the world to witness this spectacle.

Farther south still, we made a day of birding around Elephant Butte Lake State Park. Distantly on the lake were Clark's Grebes, Western Grebes, and even a rare Short-billed Gull (formerly called Mew Gull). A nearby riparian area provided some more new species like Curve-billed Thrasher, Spotted Towhee, a collection of ducks including Mexican Duck, and even a gorgeous Pyrrhuloxia in beautiful morning light. We next explored the Animas Creek corridor and came away with sightings of Acorn Woodpecker, Phainopepla, and the adorable Bridled Titmouse.

Switching gears again, we wound our way north to Santa Fe where we stayed for several nights which yielded yet another beautiful change in scenery. Nestled right in the historic downtown portion of Santa Fe, there were several interesting sights and historical buildings within walking distance of our fascinating hotel. And our wonderful dinner next to the town square was one to remember; walking the streets in heavy falling snow really set a beautiful scene that we all enjoyed.

On our final day of birding, we ventured up to Ski Santa Fe but... brrr! We retreated, leaving the five-degree temperatures up top, and instead birded a little lower which yielded a rare Clark's Nutcracker! Lower still, we tracked down a couple more target birds that afternoon such as the rare Barrow's Goldeneye and even a couple of Lewis's Woodpeckers. Before long we had to head back south. A quick stop along the way put us right in the middle of a Mountain Bluebird flock and we all came away with some pretty cool memories of that too.

I want to thank you for coming along with me to explore New Mexico in winter. I hope everyone made good memories, enjoyed the small group aspect (heated seats for all!), and came away with a greater appreciation of the sights and sounds, the fantastic scenery, and some pretty spectacular birding. Until we meet again on another Field Guides tour, be safe and good birding!

—Cory (Curlew)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

SNOW GOOSE (Anser caerulescens)

Seeing some of the big flocks in and around Bosque del Apache NWR is one of the many highlights of this trip. We were able to get out and scope them at close range which allowed for careful study.

ROSS'S GOOSE (Anser rossii)

Like the previous species, this white goose was scoped very well at Bosque del Apache NWR. Through the scope we were able to study the difference of the bill size, shape, and characteristics between this species and the larger Snow Goose.


Although never abundant, we did manage to find this species at Balloon Fiesta Park as we were scoping for the rare Brant.

BRANT (Branta bernicla)

Ah, this is a very quality bird for New Mexico! Although they're typically found along the coast, one of these had found its way to Balloon Fiesta Park and although it took a bit of effort, we eventually found it amongst the hundreds (thousands?) of other geese.

CACKLING GOOSE (Branta hutchinsii)

There was no shortage of these at Balloon Fiesta Park where we saw nearly a thousand. Compared to the following species, these are considerably smaller with a shorter neck and tiny bill.

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)

Common throughout our trip but especially around Bosque del Apache and various parks around Albuquerque (ABQ).

TRUMPETER SWAN (Cygnus buccinator)

This a rare winter visitor to New Mexico and so it was great to get to see the long-staying one at Bosque del Apache.

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)

I'd wager that it wouldn't have been possible to see this species any better than we did at Tingley Lagoon. The male—that swam right in front of us—was absolutely stunning in the good light.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

This big-billed dabbler was fairly common at a few spots like Bosque del Apache and Elephant Butte Lake.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

Like the previous species, this black-rumped dabbler was seen a couple of times including at Bosque del Apache NWR.

Field Guides Birding Tours
There might not be a more handsome duck in the US than a male Wood Duck. In good light, the colors are astounding! We were birding at a park in Albuquerque when this male swam right by us, point blank. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)

This dabbler turned out to be quite common and we ended up seeing hundreds at various spots.

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)

Common in a variety of wet habitats.

MEXICAN DUCK (Anas diazi)

We had nice scope views of this fairly drab dabbler along the Paseo del Rio at Elephant Butte Lake.


Common at Bosque del Apache.

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)

This a tiny dabbler, the smallest in the world actually, that was fairly common with the other ducks at various spots.

CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria)

The Tingley Lagoon in ABQ provided some great looks at this handsome diver.

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)

Both Tingley Lagoon and Bosque del Apache hosted this diving duck.

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)

Same as the previous species, the best places for this diver was at Tingley Lagoon and Bosque del Apache.

BUFFLEHEAD (Bucephala albeola)

This cute little duck (one of Carol's favorites of the trip), was actually fairly common and we saw them at places like Bosque del Apache, Buffalo Thunder Casino, and the bridge over the Rio Grande.

Field Guides Birding Tours
At that same park in Albuquerque, Ring-necked Ducks were also putting on a great show. We got to study the up-close plumage markings of both females and males. This male was photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)

A few of these were mixed in with the next species at the Fairview Bridge over the Rio Grande.

BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica)

This is a rare species to see on this trip and so it was especially exciting to be able to see at least five of them at the Fairview Lane Bridge.

HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus)

A duo of these were seen briefly at Tingley Lagoon.

COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)

Hundreds and hundreds of these were scoped from the dam overlook at Elephant Butte Lake.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

A few of these stiff-tailed divers were seen at Bosque del Apache.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

GAMBEL'S QUAIL (Callipepla gambelii)

It was super fun to be able to see these quirky little dudes on this trip. We had views at places like Paseo del Rio and Bosque del Apache.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Seen a couple of times on larger bodies of water.

WESTERN GREBE (Aechmophorus occidentalis)

Although many were way out, we saw dozens (if not a hundred) of these at Elephant Butte Lake.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We got to witness so many cranes at Bosque del Apache that it wasn't surprising that we came away with some interesting photos. Here is a pair in the same moment of landing. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

CLARK'S GREBE (Aechmophorus clarkii)

Although they were way out, we did manage to scope some of these at Elephant Butte Lake. Compared to the previous species, these have whiter flanks, a brighter yellow bill, and white that encompasses the eye.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

Common in urban areas.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

A number of these were seen well at Animas Creek.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

Seen mostly around Elephant Butte Lake and Animas Creek.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Seen a few times in a variety of habitats.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GREATER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx californianus)

Whew! Before long, this ground-cuckoo became quite a nemesis for us. We looked and looked at Bosque del Apache where there had been sightings just mere minutes before. FINALLY, we connected with one and got to watch it strolling around on the other side of a canal. Of course, we found another at Valle de Oro NWR when we weren't even looking for one!

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola) [*]

It's rare to have this species wintering in northern New Mexico but there was no doubt; we heard probably half a dozen grunting in the cattails.

SORA (Porzana carolina) [*]

Like the previous species, we heard several of these vocalizing deep within the cattails SW of Santa Fe.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the more unusual species we encountered at Bosque del Apache was this sleek raptor, a White-tailed Kite! We had wonderful scope views of this rarity right along the road in the southern loop. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Common in a variety of ponds and lakes.

Gruidae (Cranes)

SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)

Of course, this ancient species is one of the main attractions of birders visiting New Mexico. We were able to witness hundreds of these in the air and landing right in front of us at Bosque del Apache. Their guttural calls echoing in the early morning is something I'll not soon forget.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

At least one was heard and then seen near Elephant Butte Lake.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

This sturdy Tringa was seen a couple of times including at Bosque del Apache and Elephant Butte Lake.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

SHORT-BILLED GULL (Larus brachyrhynchus)

Ooh, this is a pretty rare gull to have seen in New Mexico! We were birding at Elephant Butte Lake SP when we picked up on one and we got scope views where we could see the small bill, dark eye, etc.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

Fairly common.

HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus)

At least one of these was spotted at Elephant Butte Lake SP.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

As it turns out, we saw far more of the following species than we did of this larger cousin. The only locations we encountered this familiar species were two spots at Elephant Butte Lake SP.

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Nearly 50 of these were seen well (and scoped) at Tingley Lagoon on the west side of ABQ. We got to study the patterning of white on the face and throat.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The evening light was quite nice at Bosque Del Apache as we scanned the ponds and lakes for ducks. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Although not a very common species at this time of year in New Mexico, a couple of these big white waders were seen at Elephant Butte Lake and Bosque del Apache.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Fairly common but the flock of 20-25 at Paseo del Rio at Elephant Lake SP was pretty cool to see.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

We got great looks at a roadside Osprey as it perched on the power lines near Paseo del Rio.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

What a graceful and sleek rarity to have seen! One of these was found high up in a tree at Bosque del Apache and we were able to get out and put it in the scope for fantastic views.

GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)

Our first full day of birding yielded one of these on the ground, way to the south in Estancia. We managed to get scope views before it flew off.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

Bosque del Apache was a great place to see this wetland-loving raptor as they wheeled around, low over the grass.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

A singleton was seen at Bosque del Apache.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

At least one of these was seen overhead at Tingley Lagoon in Albuquerque.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Certainly one of the main highlights of our first day (if not the entire tour!), was when a large flock of Pinyon Jays swarmed by us, calling and posting up point-blank! It was hard to know where to focus since there were so many. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

There was no doubt about the ID of this fish-eating raptor! We had scope views of one perched atop a dead snag at Bosque del Apache NWR.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Fairly common throughout the trip.

FERRUGINOUS HAWK (Buteo regalis)

This was one of our favorites and it happened right on our first morning. This big, grassland Buteo was seen beautifully as it circled above us near Estancia.

Strigidae (Owls)

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)

Seeing these big owls sitting quietly in a roadside tree was one of our highlights! They didn't seem too concerned about us which was great because we were really excited to see them so closely.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

At least one was heard (and then seen) along the Paseo del Rio at Elephant Butte Lake SP.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes lewis)

Surely one of the more distinctive woodpeckers in the US, this black-and-raspberry colored species was seen as they were flycatching in a small neighborhood near La Puebla. Fantastic!

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)

More than a dozen of these loud and comical woodpeckers were seen along Animas Creek at the southern limit of our trip.

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

Only one was tallied and that was also at Animas Creek.

Field Guides Birding Tours
In the dry country near Bosque del Apache NWR, it's possible to find Crissal Thrasher if you know where to go. We did just that and came away with terrific scope views of this long-billed, sneaky species of thrasher. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.


We had ok looks at this southwestern species high up in a tree along Animas Creek. We even could see the black-and-white barred back.

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

This medium-sized woodpecker was seen a couple of times including near Los Alamos.

NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer)

Not uncommon, especially when they'd perched atop dead snags. Our first one was mixed in with the Pinyon Jays along NM-14.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

Fairly common, usually spotted on power lines as we drove by.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

This flycatcher is almost always found near water and that's exactly where we found ours; flycatching over a pond at Bosque del Apache.

SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)

Quite numerous out in the open country.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

This predatory songbird was seen nicely a couple different times including at Bosque del Apache and Elephant Butte Lake SP.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

PINYON JAY (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus)

Wow! This was an amazing experience and one of my favorite memories of the trip. Our first morning we found a flock of 60+ and before we knew it, they were flying all around us, calling!

Field Guides Birding Tours
Sometimes there are some high-elevation finches and things at Ski Santa Fe. What we found there, however, were temperatures in the single digits! Brr! We retreated downhill to (slightly) warmer temperatures. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Surprisingly uncommon for us. We had a brief one at Ski Santa Fe and then just one other downhill at Black Canyon Campground.

WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (WOODHOUSE'S) (Aphelocoma woodhouseii nevadae)

Fairly common at the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Lower Pueblo Canyon Wetlands.

CLARK'S NUTCRACKER (Nucifraga columbiana)

This is sometimes a very hard bird to see on this tour and so we were lucky when Glenda spotted one at the Black Canyon Campground!

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Common around ABQ.

CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN (Corvus cryptoleucus)

We ended up seeing several small flocks of this open-country raven, in rhe south near Estancia and Stanley.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Common, seen daily.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)

This was the common chickadee up at elevation at spots like Sandia Crest and around Santa Fe.

BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus wollweberi vandevenderi)

We ventured south to Animas Creek where this attractive little titmouse was a main target. Right off the bat we ended up finding one and seeing it point blank. Fantastic!

JUNIPER TITMOUSE (Baeolophus ridgwayi)

Our very first birding stop on the entire trip netted us this rather plain gray titmouse.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the common riparian species we encountered around Elephant Butte Lake State Park was the handsome Spotted Towhee. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
Remizidae (Penduline-Tits)

VERDIN (Auriparus flaviceps)

We were birding the sagey areas along Covey Run Road near Bosque del Apache when one of these came in. In the end we all ended up seeing this small, dry-country bird nicely.

Alaudidae (Larks)

HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)

A gigantic flock of these was feeding in some fields south near Estancia.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula)

Fairly common along the Paseo del Rio trail at Elephant Butte Lake SP.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis nelsoni)

It was good to spend time with this nuthatch, especially because this subspecies, S. c. nelsoni, could be split out someday.

PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)

Lower Pueblo Canyon Wetlands had a nice little flock of these adorable nuthatches. As is typical, they foraged and moved around in a flock.

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

Fairly common at feeders at higher elevations.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

We had nice looks at this cryptic species along the Paseo del Rio trail.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila melanura)

Not a species we typically see on this tour, one of these came in when we were birding the dry scrub along Covey Run Road near Bosque del Apache NWR.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)

Folks didn't see this guy very well but there was one hopping along the path in front of us. Later on, they were very vocal near the dam.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This male Pyrrhuloxia at Elephant Butte sure gave us a good show! We know it's a male because of the red mask and red down the front of the breast. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)

They were being ultra skulky but at least two of these cattail-loving wrens were at the rail spot near Santa Fe.

CACTUS WREN (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) [*]

Heard from Covey Run Road.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Seen in some urban areas.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre)

The Paseo del Rio trail at Elephant Butte Lake SP had a number of these and we ended up seeing them point-blank on the trail in front of us.

CRISSAL THRASHER (Toxostoma crissale)

The views we had of this long-billed thrasher were absolutely top-notch! They were in some dry country near Bosque del Apache NWR.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

At least one of these familiar mimics was seen at the Paseo del Rio trail.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)

We ended up seeing a number of these starting on our first day near the Juniper Titmouse spot. We saw more at Lower Pueblo Canyon Wetlands and Bonanza Creek Road on our final day.

MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides)

Seeing 40+ of these littering the fence posts along Bonanza Creek Road was certainly a highlight for all of us. The sky-blue males were especially eye-catching!

TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi)

Surprisingly uncommon. Our only one came from the Lower Pueblo Canyon Wetlands near Los Alamos.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Although it took a couple of attempts, we were eventually rewarded with a nice collection of rosy-finches up at Sandia Crest. We saw both Black Rosy-Finch and Brown-capped Rosy-Finch attending the feeders—at least when the Abert's Squirrels weren't raiding it. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Fairly common.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Seen a couple of times including a small flock that flew off from the Pinyon Jay spot.

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

PHAINOPEPLA (Phainopepla nitens)

It took a little work but we eventually spotted this glossy, all-black species high atop a tree near Animas Creek.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Common throughout.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)

They were brief sightings but we did happen into two of these ground-loving pipits along a wetland edge at Bosque del Apache NWR.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

EVENING GROSBEAK (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

A brief flyover was calling at our very first stop at Sandia Park.

BLACK ROSY-FINCH (Leucosticte atrata)

Whew! It took a couple of tries but we were eventually rewarded with nice looks at this specialty finch up atop Sandia Crest. For many people, this is the toughest of the rosy-finches to see.

BROWN-CAPPED ROSY-FINCH (Leucosticte australis)

This high-elevation specialty is almost endemic to Colorado but they can be found in winter south into New Mexico a little ways. For us, we finally connected with a flock of these at Sandia Crest on our second visit. Interestingly, we saw another one of these at the Randall Davey Audubon Center where it's a very rare!

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Not uncommon in towns and at nearby feeders.

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

This was a fantastic trip for enjoying this bizarre finch! We saw many flocks including at Lower Pueblo Canyon Wetlands and Black Canyon Campground. Our best views, however, were probably had mere feet from our car on the way up to Sandia Crest.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Another finch that we ended up seeing many times, including some pretty incredible views, was the unique Red Crossbill. We were near Los Alamos when we found this flock all sitting together. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)

This small finch was also fairly common around Sandia Crest.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

At least one of these small sparrows was seen along Animas Creek in the southern part of our trip.

BREWER'S SPARROW (Spizella breweri)

We all got decent looks at this fairly washed-out Spizella at the dam overlook of Elephant Butte Lake SP.

BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata)

Like the previous species, this sparrow was first spotted at the dam overlook where they were mixing with White-crowneds.

DARK-EYED JUNCO (OREGON) (Junco hyemalis montanus)

We saw many flavors of Dark-eyed Junco on this trip. This one, the "Oregon" subspecies, was quite distinctive with its black hood and brown back.

DARK-EYED JUNCO (PINK-SIDED) (Junco hyemalis mearnsi)

This subspecies was a little less obvious but the gray head and pinkish hue on the sides were helpful clues.

DARK-EYED JUNCO (GRAY-HEADED) (Junco hyemalis caniceps)

This was another distinctive subspecies we encountered, especially up at high-elevations. These were all gray save for a brown back.

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (GAMBEL'S) (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii)

Common throughout.

SAGEBRUSH SPARROW (Artemisiospiza nevadensis)

We were successful in finding this fun sparrow in the sage habitat along Covey Run Road.

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)

This familiar sparrow popped up a couple of times at Bosque del Apache NWR.

CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca)

We had good looks at this fairly-plain towhee at the Randal Davey Audubon Center.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A fairly serious winter storm all but shut down Sandia Crest, but we perservered and eventually got to the crest a couple of times. Although the landscape was brutally cold and windy, the blanket of snow was a nice touch as we scoped the rosy-finches. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)

Not particularly uncommon around Elephant Butte Lake or the Randall Davey Audubon Center.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta)

Fairly common anywhere that was open and grassy.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Abundant around Bosque del Apache NWR.

BREWER'S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Seen along roadsides, rest areas, and parking lots.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

At least two of these big guys were seen at the marina at Elephant Butte Lake.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

This subspecies, which is the one you'd encounter in the east, has a white throat. For us, these were greatly outnumbered by the following subspecies.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)

This subspecies, with the yellow throats, was the common one we saw on our trip.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

PYRRHULOXIA (Cardinalis sinuatus)

We saw this "Desert Cardinal" very well at Paseo del Rio at Elephant Butte Lake SP. In good light, teed up, this male was quite a looker indeed!


DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)

This was the only species of cottontail we saw.

ABERT'S SQUIRREL (Sciurus aberti)

The long ear tassels of this species were super cool to see so well. Problem was, this species was raiding the feeders up at Sandia Crest!

COYOTE (Canis latrans)

Seen along a roadside once or twice.

COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu)

Seen at Bosque del Apache NWR.

MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)

This is a big-eared species that we encountered a couple of times.

PRONGHORN (Antilocapra americana)

Although typically rare on this tour, these were seen right off the bat on our first day.

Totals for the tour: 124 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa