New Mexico is home to a staggering 542 different species of birds – one of the largest and most diverse lists in the whole United States. Due to this, many consider New Mexico to be one of the best places in United States to go bird watching.
Before you go on your adventure with New Mexico bird watching, you need to know where the best locations are. You can plan your vacation accordingly and make sure that you get the best possible experience with bird watching in New Mexico. Here are out top 5 bird watching spots throughout New Mexico.
What is the best bird watching location in New Mexico?
1. BOSQUE DEL APACHE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is located in Rio Grande, Central New Mexico. This refuge has only recently opened to the public and provides an excellent environment all visitors. There are numerous activities for all members of the family but none better than bird watching.
November is the best month to visit as the nearby town of Socorro celebrate the majestic local Cranes with a grand festival. This is a truly memorable experience for any bird enthusiasts.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is centered around the great Rio Grande river. Tamer than it once was, this river raged aggressively for thousands of years. In the winter, melting snow from the nearby mountains often overflowed the river banks and often causing devastation. In the summer, the river has a tamer nature but can swell and overflow due to heavy rain.
With the river being so violent and wild it often forged its own path during the largest storms. Consequently, new ponds and marshes have been created from the old river bed that has allowed lush vegetation to grow and flourish. This has been a catalyst for wide range of wildlife to call Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge their home.
In the winter migratory birds flock in their thousands. Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese and Sandhill Cranes are the stars of the show. Interestingly these birds will sleep in the water during the night to protect themselves from predators. We recommend stopping by the visitor center in the winter to learn about roosting and feeding sites as they often change throughout the year.
As spring time appears the wetlands open their doors to Sandpipers, Stilts, Plover and numerous Shorebird species. The nutritious soil offers rich food for beautiful spring wildflowers that fill the landscape with striking color. Catch a glimpse of other animals including lizards, snakes and the famous road runner around this time of year.
In the summer the buzzing and vibrant antics of Rufous Hummingbirds and Calliope visit. The flowers of spring transform in the sweet summer fruits. Plenty of baby birds can be seen around the refuge such as the Quail. The best chance to catch a glimpse of these birds are in the middle of the day as they seek shade close to the water ways.
In fall, Red-Winged Blackbirds swoop through the refuge while Wild Turkeys push to the northern side of the refuge as they aim to join up with their families. Catch a glimpse of cayotes, deer and javelina during the fall.
The variety of bird species that reside here is vast and the scenic landscapes are beautiful. This is the reason why we call Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge our number 1 place for bird watching in New Mexico.
2. CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has earned popularity throughout the world because of the famous underground labyrinth. It also happens to be in close proximity to one of the best birding spots in New Mexico as well.
Spring is the best time of the year to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park for bird watching as this is when Small Cottonwood Scrub and the Tree Oasis attracts an astounding array of different bird species. A recorded 300 different species of birds have been spotted here over the years. Local and migratory bird will be circulating the skies during the spring and gives you a great chance of catching a glimpse of them.
Fall migration can also be considered as another peak season that you can keep in your mind. Catch a glimpse of the rare Gray Hawk as it swoops across the land.
In addition to the Gray Hawk, rare oddities such as a Williamson’s Sapsucker and Worm-eating Warbler can be seen around the Park.
This park, especially its labyrinth, are famous around the world and is a must-see spectacle if you are visiting New Mexico and is the reason why it takes our number 2 spot.
3. BITTER LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in close proximity to Roswell. It is one of the most underrated bird watching spots that you can see in New Mexico. You can visit Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge at any given time of the year to witness an outstanding bird watching experience. This is a popular hunting area well, therefore, you need to be extra careful about the events and schedule of other activities during winter and fall seasons.
Thousands of Ducks and Geese make Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge their home during the spring season through until fall. Cinnamon Teal and Blue winged Teal are few unique bird species that you can witness during this time. In the winter you can easily spot the Sandhill Crane in vast numbers.
Bitter Lake Refuge is also a popular stop off for many migrating shore birds. The wetlands offer nutritious food and great resting areas for them on their journey. Species such as the Lesser Yellowlegs and Western Sandpiper are common around the area while the Least Tern are harder to find. Catch a glimpse of the impressive White Pelican during the spring and fall.
We recommend getting around the refuge on the eight-mile-long vehicle route which offers relaxing and efficient bird watching. This can be particularly true during the heat of summer. If you enjoy the exercise then there are plenty of hiking and birding trails that will keep you occupied all day long.
4. RIO GRANDE NATURE CENTER STATE PARK
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is located in the Northwest of the city of Albuquerque. When visiting, you can discover around 300 different bird species. Even though Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is spread across a relatively small area, you will be impressed to see the number of birds that you can see in the park.
It’s a unique park as it is located in the heart of Albuquerque. However, the diverse and varied habitats create a rich eco-system which explains its attraction to so many species of birds.
Some of the birds that nest at Rio Grande Nature Center State Park include Greater Roadrunner, Cooper’s Hawk, Gambel’s Quail and Black Chinned Hummingbird. During Migration season you can catch a glimpse of thousands of birds as they fill in the sky and follow the weaving path of the Rio Grande.
5. PERCHA DAM STATE PARK
The best birding locations in New Mexico are centered along the famous Rio Grande. Percha Dam State Park is another perfect example of this.
If you are interested in watching local and native birds then Percha Dam State Park is arguably the best location in the state for you. The park hosts many entertaining and natural attractions that will keep the whole family occupied. It’s a fantastic day out for a vacation in the wilderness!
Some of the nesting birds that you can see in Percha Dam State Park include Black Chinned Hummingbird, Swainson’s hawk, Gambel’s Quail, Ladder backed Woodpecker and Phainopepla. You can enjoy these birds from fall through spring.
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We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!