Birders used to mostly be your grandma and grandpa, but not anymore. It is an ever growing phenomenon that has no boundaries as far as age goes. I know of a few excellent birders under the age of twelve. I had an intro to birding as a child, because my mom kept a feeder in the yard right outside the kitchen window, and she was also the “go to” person of the neighborhood when people found a hurt or injured bird. It is no wonder that I would be curious enough to start a life-list myself.
There are all kinds of birders. I am not one to chase off into an area that had a rare sighting, but I do get a bird book for a particular area when traveling. It really kills me to see something and not be able to look it up. But there are folks who will hop on a plane to jet across the country to catch a glimpse of something rare, for example, the Thick-Billed Parrot that turned up at Ted Turner’s Ranch in southern, New Mexico a few years back. Some people call these bird chasing folks “twitchers”, a name that originated in Britain. I’m not a twitcher. I am just not that devoted, but many are and will do just about anything to cross off a bird from their “life-list”, including misdirecting others and worse. There is a very good book out there called “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession” by Mark Obmascik that follows a few folks in a competition to get the most birds checked off their list in a specific time – Jan 1 to Dec 31, within the boundary of the United states. It is humorous, yet it is very detailed as to just what lengths people will go to to win. Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny.
Some of the birds I see nearly every day here in Albuquerque are such a thrill to birders from other parts of the world and the U.S. We have a pair of Roadrunners in the neighborhood. Spring and summer is the best time to see them although they’re here year round. But it is during the mating season and when they are raising young that they become so wrapped up in what they are doing that they will ignore you. I have walked down the street right past a male dancing for his potential mate. They completely ignored the fact that I was just 10 feet away. One afternoon my husband and a neighbor were standing in the front yard talking when the roadrunner came upon them and right before their eyes jumped up and snatched a sparrow out of the air. And then there are the hummingbirds.
New Mexico is visited by over 13 species of hummingbirds. Every summer we are so inundated with Black-Chinned hummers that I almost feel we need to hand out safety glasses to our guests. They arrive sometime in early to mid-April, males always first, followed by the females. Then the mating displays start high above our houses. Soon the females begin collecting spider webs for nest building. We have a tendency to leave quite a few webs around for their building material because we get such a kick out of watching them. While the females are nesting in the early part of summer we see much less of them, but after the young have hatched and leave the nest there are hoards of them buzzing through the yard. In late July the Rufus hummingbirds arrive and create such a disturbance with their territorial behavior that it seems there is a war going on out in the yard. We also get Broad-Tailed and even Calliope. The pictures here of the hummers were all taken at Adobe Nido and within 2 miles, with the exception of the Broad-Tailed which was taken up on the Sandia Crest. Our guest, Claus Holzapfel from NJ, took the photos two weeks ago when he was in town for an Eco Conference. On left, from top: Black-Chinned female, male Calliope, male Rufus. On right is a Broad-Tailed female. I think these pics are quite cool!
I am not going to go on and on with my bird stories, but I will provide you with some lists below. One is a list of great birding spots in the area and the other is a list of some of the birds seen at Adobe Nido.
Rio Grande Nature Center – (a fantastic place for birds and bird watching just two miles from us! Banding from Aug – Nov)
Sandia Mountains – (hike the foothills on the Albuquerque side, or you may also take the tram up to the crest, or drive over to the east facing side. Rosey Finch!!!)
Manzano Mountains – Hawk Watch International makes camp on the crest of the Manzanos in the fall to capture, band and release all the hawk species migrating through these Mountains. They do it in the Sandias in the Spring.)
Fenton Lake State Park in the Jemez Mountains – (many mountain species that like woods and pine forest – and water birds too.)
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge – (you name it – it’s there. Winter is best since this is a big migration destination. Be there for the fly-ins and fly-outs. It is spectacular.)
We have other feathered visitors, besides those mentioned above. Notice I have not mentioned any Flycatchers or Warblers, as I have a hard time with identifying those, but they are around. Here is a partial list of our visitors.
Blue Jay (eastern)
Juncos, (many varieties)
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Eurasian Collared Dove
Flickers – red and yellow shafted
Great Horned Owl (heard often, but not seen)
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!