Whether you’re a serious birder or simply enjoy spotting birds during hikes around Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, we have several recommendations to make new feathered friends as you venture out and savor the natural beauty of New Mexico. Less than 15 minutes from Mariposa in Rio Rancho you’ll begin to find ideal spots with birds singing atop the cacti and bushes or hiding in larger trees. Sometimes you might hear woodpeckers before you see them, and American Gulls and Avocets enjoy several nearby water areas such as Tingley Beach. Regardless of what type of bird you’re searching for, each of the ten spots below will allow you to engage with native and migrating New Mexico bird species in numerous ways
1. Mariposa Preserve
One of our favorite spots for bird watching is the 2,200-acre Mariposa Preserve, a dedicated open space protected in perpetuity and used for recreational and educational purposes by Mariposa residents. The preserve offers miles of trails and breathtaking views of the New Mexico high desert and surrounding Sandia and Jemez Mountain ranges. It’s a great spot to view a diverse variety of local birds and wildlife amidst juniper and pinon-covered hills, boulder outcroppings, and gentle grasslands.
Location: 2501 Parkway Ave, Rio Rancho, NM 87144, park at the Mariposa community center.
2. Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
Plenty of wildlife viewing areas overlooking the Rio Grande, with excellent birdwatching opportunities in this 38-acre urban wildlife preserve. Many birds make their homes in the park. In the winter, we’ve seen Ring-necked Ducks, American Wigeons, Northern Harriers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Chipping Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Sandhill Cranes and sometimes a Bald Eagle. During the summer, you might see Warblers, Black Phoebes and Western Kingbirds. Seasonal and year-round residents include Cooper’s Hawks, Great-horned Owls, Black-capped Chickadees, Great Blue Herons, and Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.
Location: 2901 Candelaria Rd NW, Albuquerque, about 7 miles from Mariposa
3. Tingley Beach
Adjacent to the Rio Grande Bosque, walk along the beautiful paths and do some wildlife watching at Tingley Beach. You’ll see Northern Shovelers, Ring-necked Ducks, Pied-billed Grebe, Black-crowned Night Herons, Belted Kingfisher and more.
Location: 1800 Tingley Drive SW, about 13 miles from Mariposa.
4. Calabacillas Arroyo bosque trails
There’s plenty of water and vegetation for birds in this area of Albuquerque. The great width and depth of the arroyo, together with its long and open vistas, attracts many kinds of birds. Along with Black-chinned Sparrows and Ring-billed Gulls, you might find Northern Flickers, Lewis’s Woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Franklin’s Bull, American Avocets and Turkey Vultures.
Location: A trailhead and parking for the Calabacillas Arroyo Bosque Trails is located on the west side of the river off of Coors, north of Paseo del Norte. From Coors, turn right (east) on to Westside drive (0.75 miles north of Paseo del Norte; 0.25 miles north of Irving), then turn east on to the dirt levee road, and follow the road to the dirt parking lot. About 15 miles from Mariposa.
5. Corrales Bosque Preserve
Located on the west side of the Rio Grande within the limits of the Village of Corrales, the Corrales Bosque Preserve is a narrow strip of relatively natural riparian habitat. You’ll find Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Yellow-breasted Chats, Spotted Towhees, Bewick’s Wrens, Blue Grosbeaks, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Lesser Goldfinches. In winter, Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and American Crows occur in high numbers in ponds, wetlands, and the river channel.
Location: Andrews Ln, via NM-448, Corrales about 18 miles from Mariposa
6. Otero/Cedro Canyons
The forest service has created a Nature Trail through the heart of Cedro from the Otero trailhead to the climbing cliff. The woodland around Otero has a dense population of Black-throated Gray Warblers. Also found along the western ridgeline are Clark’s Nutcracker, Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch and Red-breasted Nuthatch. The Cedro Riparian Area is a favorite waterhole for 40 breeding species, including Lazuli Bunting (at least some years), Virginia’s Warbler, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Plumbeous Vireo (via Audubon.org).
Location: Four miles south of the stoplight in Tijeras, NM, about 33 miles from Mariposa.
7. Valles Caldera National Preserve
National preserve that sustains one of the country’s largest wild elk herds and provides habitat for a wide range of other wildlife. Birds found here include Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Band-tailed Pigeon, Stellar’s Jay, Gray Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Tanager, House Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Townsend’s Solitaire, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee and Band-tailed Pigeon. Red-tailed Hawk and Turkey Vulture can be seen overhead.
Location: 39201 NM-4, Jemez Springs, about 70 miles from Mariposa. Take NM-4 13 miles west from the entrance to Bandelier National Monument or an equivalent distance via NM-501 and NM-4 from the town of Los Alamos.
8. Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex
This 250 acre complex is composed of the Belen, Casa Colorada, Bernardo, and La Joya Waterfowl areas, situated along the Rio Grande river bottom and farmed to provide feed for wintering waterfowl. Note: Public entry is generally closed except during hunting season. The area is a good place to observe waterfowl, cranes and some upland birds during the fall and winter months.
Location: 164 NM-116, Bosque, NM, about 65 miles south of Mariposa.
9. Caja del Rio
The Caja del Rio sits on a high mesa above the Santa Fe River, with juniper woodland, large sections of forest and open grassland. Birds include Killdeer, Say’s Phoebe, Western and Cassin’s Kingbird, Bullock’s Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, Lark, Song, and White-crowned Sparrow, and Willow Flycatcher in migration. Up on Caja del Rio, birds include Curve-billed, Sage and Bendire’s Thrasher, Mockingbird, and Scott’s Oriole. This is an unusual area which contains a strange variety of “desert” species often found further south.
Location: Situated 15 miles to the west of Santa Fe, it’s about 62 miles north of Mariposa.
10. Petroglyph National Monument
Various birds utilize this area amongst the petroglyphs, including Black-throated Sparrows, Crissal Thrashers, Canyon Wrens, Rock Wrens, Scaled Quails and Red-tailed Hawks.
Location: Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, about 10 miles from Mariposa.
These spots are just the beginning. A vast amount of information on birding adventures may be found on newmexico.org. This region of New Mexico also hosts a yearly Festival of the Cranes. More info: https://friendsofbosquedelapache.org/festival/ Enjoy your exploration of birds as you hike, watch, photograph and educate yourself and your family and friends about one of the state’s most cherished inhabitants.
Looking for a new home in New Mexico? Mariposa is a master-planned community 30 minutes north of Albuquerque in the appealing town of Rio Rancho. Near so much of what New Mexico offers, Mariposa is designed for living naturally. Mariposa offers a fully equipped fitness center, indoor lap pool and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails, abundant open space and endless views at the 2,200-acre Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at https://liveinmariposa.com/
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