Albuquerque has its fair share of birders who not only take in the Bosque del Apache during migration season but visit the refuge throughout the year. The city and surrounding area has some excellent places to view birds that can be found beyond the backyard feeder. Here are a few to get you started on checking area birds off your list.
The Rio Grande Nature Center lies in the heart of Albuquerque's north valley, and adjoins the Rio Grande, making it a great place to see many kinds of birds, to include water birds. The bosque birds can include red-winged blackbirds and woodpeckers, and cranes and herons can be found along the river, along with ducks and geese on the center pond. Viewing birds is easy, especially for kids, inside the center where a viewing area looks out on the pond. A bird blind allows for easy viewing as well, and a summer garden draws several kinds of hummingbirds. The center offers free weekend guided bird walks.
The Elena Gallegos Open Space park has picnic areas, hiking trails through the Sandia foothills, and a wildlife blind overlooking a pond. The park near Tramway and Academy offers year-round recreation and bird watching opportunities.
The Open Space Visitor Center is a wonderful place to watch migrating sandhill cranes in the fall. Every year, the center hosts the Return of the Cranes celebration, when special telescopes are set up for bird viewing, and activities take place for both kids and adults. The farm fields adjacent to the center are a haven for the cranes and other birds. The beautiful setting has a backdrop of the Sandia Mountains and the bosque along the Rio Grande. The center offers free guided weekend bird walks.
The first urban national wildlife refuge in the southwest, Valle de Oro features a naturalized landscape that attracts migratory birds as well as native species that can be found year round. Visit during an open house, or call to schedule a time when you can bird watch at your convenience. The Valle de Oro is in Albuquerque's south valley.
The Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Santa Fe provides 135 acres and the chance to bird watch in the national forest and along the Santa Fe River watershed. About 190 species of birds can be found there Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hike the trails and gardens and be sure to take your binoculars. Every Saturday at 8 a.m., take a guided bird walk with a local expert.
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden has two areas with different habitats. One is the pinon/juniper scrubland at the Botanical Garden at Museum Hill, and the other is the pond and riparian woodlands of the Leonora Curtain Wetland Preserve. Sixty species of birds are common to both locations, and each site has birds that cannot be found at the other site. At the preserve, birders can find robins, red-winged blackbirds, and white-faced ibises.
The national wildlife refuge near Socorro, New Mexico is known worldwide for its beauty and fall migration of birds. Sandhill cranes fly through on their way south for the winter, as well as snow and Canada geese, and the area is a sanctuary for wildlife year round. Over 57,000 acres of land stretch along the Rio Grande and the ribbon of cottonwood forest, providing birders with both land and water birds to sight through their binoculars.