Birding Southern New Mexico

The world was at ease.  It was a typical winter’s day with lots of sun and temperatures around 60.  I was enjoying sitting by the window of my Hillsboro home sipping my tea.  But I really wanted to see something besides what was outside the window:

White-winged Dove;
Eurasian Collared-Dove;
Inca Dove;
Mourning Dove;
Curve-billed Thrasher;
Chihuahuan Raven;
White-crowned Sparrow;
Harris’s Sparrow;
Spotted Towhee;
Canyon Towhee;
Ladder-backed Woodpecker; and
Other typical yard birds.

Where to go and what to see - such big questions. I knew that Rebecca would be more than happy to tag along, she knows a great deal about birds and natural history in general but to call her a “birder” would be far from the truth.

Southwestern New Mexico 

Luckily, southern New Mexico has many attractions and periodic events which are attractive to non-birders and birders alike.  And, those events and attractions are often near great birding sites.  Rather than bore you with my ramblings on that winter day, let me give you an idea of some of the possibilities.

Birding Sites

Percha dam State Park: Excellent land bird birding site at any time of year.  Resident species include; Greater Roadrunner, Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Gambel’s Quail, Verdin, Cactus Wren, Crissal Thrasher, and many others.  During the winter and summer the list can take on a strong seasonal flavor, making this a great birding site any time of the year.

The Area Around Silver City:  Numerous birding sites, especially for montane and Mexican species like; Greater Pewee, Red-faced Warbler, Olive Warbler, Common Black-Hawk, Painted Redstart, and Brown-crested Flycatchers.  Visit the areas along the Gila River and in the Pinos Altos Mountains in particular.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge - One of the premier birding sites in the United States.  The Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR are a great resource to tap into if you intend to bird here.

Birding resources for southwestern New Mexico:  
Mesilla Valley Audubon Society (Las Cruces);  and 
Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society (Silver City)

And For The Non-Birder

New Mexico State Parks Events Calendar

Truth or Consequences is near-by:  Hot Springs and Museums

Nearby “Ghost Towns” of Hillsboro, Kingston, Lake Valley, Monticello, and Chloride

SpacePort America - America’s first commercial Spaceport

Hatch - The chile capital of the world, Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument - One of the classic cliff dwelling sites of the southwest -- set above the meandering Gila River in an incredibly picturesque location.

City of Rocks State Park - Scaled Quail for the birder and the adventure of sculptured rock and “secret” paths for the kids.

Southeastern New Mexico

    As myriad as the opportunities are in the southwestern part of the state they are just as numerous in the southeastern part of the state.  Two National Parks (Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains) and the UFO museums of Roswell may call to the non-birder as much as sites like Rattlesnake Springs does to the birder.

For The Birder

Birding Resources For Southeastern New Mexico:  

Friends of Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge; and

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (especially regarding their large colony of Cave Swallows). 

Rattlesnake Springs - More than 300 bird species have been recorded in this small area.  This site has a large population of Bell’s Vireo and is regularly visited by both Western and Eastern species.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge - More than 350 species of birds have been reported from the refuge and if you are interested in dragonflys this is the place to go.

For The Non-Birder

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site - More than 20,000 petroglyphs  (from 900 to 1400 AD) is just 28 miles south of Carrizoso.  Alamogordo is the site of the New Mexico Museum of Space History and White Sands National Monument is just a short distance away.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park one of the premier cave systems in the world, is just a stones throw away.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in Texas, but just barely so.  It protects “the world’s finest example of a fossilized reef.

UFO’s - This is the place.  Roswell is a short distance away and is the home of the annual UFO Festival.

Tourism Information for New Mexico

Request a Visitor’s Guide

The Native Americans of New Mexico,_New_Mexico
Three sub-species of Dark-eyed Junco in the yard today, two others possible.  Yellow-eyed Junco (Mexican Junco sub-species) less than 4 hours away.
Inca, White-winged, and Eurasian Collared Dove are all regulars in the yard.
Southwestern New Mexico
A typical scene in Hatch.
City of Rocks State Park
Southeastern New Mexico
Petroglyphs, including those of birds, dot the hillsides by the thousands at Three River Petroglyph Site.
Black-chinned Hummingbird Nest
Band-tailed Pigeon

The Birding Trails of Southwestern New Mexico

  1. BulletHatch to Deming (especially raptors during the summer)

  2. BulletMount View Cemetery in Deming (best during the cooler months)

  3. BulletDeming Water Treatment Plant (best during the cooler months - waterfowl and shorebirds)

  4. BulletRock Hound and Spring Canyon State Parks (south of Deming)

  5. BulletPancho Villa State Park (south of Deming)

  6. BulletHatchita to Animas on NM Hwy 9 (far SW corner of the state)

  7. BulletSouth of Animas on NM Hwy 338 (far SW corner of the state)

  8. BulletClanton Canyon (great place, expect the Border Patrol to stop you a lot)

  9. BulletGranite Gap (early spring or late fall)

  10. BulletLordsburg Playa (waterfowl and shorebirds if there is water)

  11. BulletVirden Bridge (riparian zone with mulberry trees - northwest of Lordsburg)

  12. BulletLower Gila Box (170 species - north of Lordsburg)

  13. BulletGlenwood Fish Hatchery (central NM on the border with AZ - nesting Common Black Hawk)

  14. BulletCatwalk Recreation Area (Not far from Glenwood - Rufous-crowned Sparrows)

  15. BulletMogollon (north of Glenwood - a variety of hummers)

  16. BulletWillow Creek Camground (Gila National Forest - montane birds)

  17. BulletRedrock Road (Bendire’s Thrashers to Lucy’s Warbler - north of Lordsburg)

  18. BulletBurro Mountains on Forest Service Road 851 (Mexican Jay et. al. - west of Silver City)

  19. BulletGila River Bird Habitat Area (base of the Big Burro Mountains)

  20. BulletGila River - Mogollon Creek Confluence (Spring time!)

  21. BulletBig Ditch Park (Near Historic Downtown Silver City)

  22. BulletCherry Creek/McMillian Campgrounds (just north of Silver City - good for Painted Redstart)

  23. BulletSignal Peak Road (north of Silver City, 9,000 feet so watch for Grace’s and Olive Warbler)

  24. BulletGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (Jays and Grosbeaks among many others)

  25. BulletLake Roberts Area (north of Silver City, best waterbird location in SW NM)

  26. BulletThe Nature Conservancy Mimbres Preserve (NE of Silver City)

  27. BulletFort Bayard Historical District (6+ miles east of Silver City)

  28. BulletCity of Rocks State Park (Scaled Quail to Golden Eagle - north of Deming)

  29. BulletIron Creek Campground to Lower Gallinas Campground (Slow mountain road east of Silver City - night birding for owls)

  30. BulletEmory Pass (8500 feet, Grace’s, Virginia’s and Red-faced Warblers, between Silver City and Hillsboro

  31. BulletKingston-Hillsboro Area (west of Truth or Consequences, Gray Flycatcher and others)

  32. BulletLas Animas Creek (west of Truth or Consequences - Elf Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, etc.)

  33. BulletPercha Dam State Park (near Truth or Consequences - excellent birding site)

  34. BulletCaballo Lake State Park and Caballo Dam (wintering waterbirds, near T or C)

  35. BulletLas Palomas Marsh (Good shore and marsh birding when there is water, near T or C)

  36. BulletElephant Butte Lake State Park (near Truth or Consequences - scope is very helpful)

  37. BulletSpringtime Campground (near Truth or Consequences - Grace’s and Red-faced Warbler)

  38. BulletLeasburg Dam State Park (just north of Las Cruces, good for shorebirds when there is water)

  39. BulletDripping Springs Recreation Area (east of Las Cruces in the Organ Mountains

  40. BulletAguirre Springs Recreation Area (near Las Cruces, Scaled Quail and montane warblers)

Where to Go?

    II am not sure where I will end up going on this winter’s day but I know that today, as in any season in southern New Mexico, my non-birding companion will be able to find many fascinating places, events, and things to do as well - all I have to do is decided which birds I want to see today.

                                                                                                 Bob Barnes - February 2008