The Search for Long-Billed Curlews – Stanley, New Mexico

I’m always on the search for new birds to add to my life list.  It’s getting more difficult now that I’m up to 294 birds and most of them are from the southwest.

I check “ebird” and “birds around me” apps to see what’s been sighted recently.  I saw there have been numerous sightings of long-billed curlew in Stanley, New Mexico.  Needless to say, I was skeptical.  Don’t they prefer water? Wouldn’t they be near a lake or the river? Why would like be out in farm land miles away from any lake or river?

Well, the location is only about 20 miles from my house so I figured I go see for myself.  I started at Valley Irrigation Road and worked my way north to Feed Lot Road.  I saw a Swainson’s Hawk right away relaxing in the dead trees.  It seems to be a popular hangout for them.  I saw a few Vesper Sparrows but they were shy and I couldn’t get a great close up photo so I went for the “artsy” photo instead 🙂


Vesper Sparrow


Swainson’s Hawk

Lots of Horned Larks singing.  I even watched one atop a fence post dance while he sang.  It was adorable! And of course in that area there are always lots of Western Meadowlarks singing. And I saw a Loggerhead Shrike with a grasshopper.


Female Horned Lark


Western Meadowlark


Loggerhead Shrike


Male Horned Lark

Still no long-billed curlew but having fun nonetheless.  Then out of the corner of my eye I see a sparrow that looks different from the Vesper Sparrows I had been seeing all morning.  Of course, have you ever noticed birds have a knack of placing themselves between you and the sun so that it’s very difficult to get a decent photo?  Well, this little guy did.  But I managed to get a good enough pic to identify him.  And it was a new bird! #295! A Savannah Sparrow.  Pretty bird with the yellow on his face and dark streaked breast on white belly.  So I was thrilled to get a new bird for the day unexpectedly.


Savannah Sparrow

As I neared the end of King Road I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a mother cow and her calf.  I thought they looked sweet together.


Then I turn onto Feed Lot Road and am driving slowly.  I only have a couple more miles to go before I hit HIghway 41.  I’m thinking that maybe I won’t see the long-billed curlew today.  Then suddenly this bird flies out of the brush squawking loudly and heads to a field a ways away.  I quickly look through my binoculars and am ecstatic to see a very long bill on the bird.  I search for a way to drive closer to this field.  I managed to get close enough for a few decent photos.  By this time it’s high noon so the pics aren’t the best.  But I was thrilled to get bird #296! What a really cool bird.  I am going to find some time to go back when I can see them in the early morning.


Long-Billed Curlew

On the way home I saw a pair of Mountain Bluebirds.  I can never resist taking photos of them.  They always make me smile. And I saw a dark form Swainson’s Hawk as well.


Female Mountain Bluebird


Mountain Bluebird


Swainson’s Hawk – Dark Form

All in all a great birding day!

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