Birding in the Sandia Mountains, NM

Wow…I’ve gotten way behind on my blog.  Life has been very busy.  But I have been making time to get out hiking and birding.

On April 23, my friend Bob Hall flew into town from Oregon.  He’s a fellow birder and was a field biologist in his working days.  This visit was the first time I actually met him in person.  The day was fun and Bob was a great birding partner.

Since he hadn’t been to Albuquerque before, I drove him to the top of the Sandia Mountains so he could see the city from the peak.  On our way up the crest road we saw wild turkeys.  That was the first time I’d actually seen turkey in the Sandias.


Wild Turkey

While there we saw a Yellow-Rumped Warbler singing and feeding in the pines.  He was a real treat to watch.


Yellow-Rumped Warbler

We worked out way down the crest road.  Our next stop was at the 10K North trail parking lot.  We saw swallows flying and heard several woodpeckers in the area as well as other birds singing.

I had told Bob that I needed an American Three-Toed Woodpecker and that I had heard they had been spotted here in the past.  While we were watching the Violet-Green Swallows (a new bird for my life list!) we saw a pair of woodpeckers land in a dead pine tree.  I quickly took some photos but the distance and lighting didn’t make for great photos.  Bob had a good pair of binoculars and he told me “I’m 98% sure those are the three-toed woodpeckers you were looking for.”  I was so excited that I exclaimed “REALLY!!???!!!”  Well…my delight echoed through the canyon and those woodpeckers took off! Hmmm….I told Bob I guess I needed to work on my birding voice.  When I got home I looked through my photos and had one pic that showed the yellow on the head conclusively making the sighting 100% three-toed woodpecker.  Another lifer!


American Three-Toed Woodpecker

We worked our way down the road but didn’t see any more interesting birds.  But we did get to see a nice group of mule deer.


Mule Deer

Our next stop was the Ojito de San Antonio.  I’ve had great luck there recently where the spring makes a pool.  Bob was excited to see Cedar Waxwing and a new bird for him, the Evening Grosbeak.  Lots of activity at the spring made for a fun time birding.  We stopped briefly at the church there next to where we parked and enjoyed watching an Ash-Throated Flycatcher and Western Bluebird feeding.


Evening Grosbeak


Cedar Waxwing


Western Bluebird


Ash-Throated Flycatcher

I asked Bob if he wanted to go into town to the Rio Grande Nature Center along the river or head east and see the prairie lands with Swainson’s Hawks.  He said definitely east as Swainson’s were one of his favorite birds and it had been a long time since he’d seen one.  So we headed out to Stanley and I drove him down Valley Irrigation Road (one of my favorite drives for birding).  And right off the bat a Swainson’s Hawk landed right in front of us.  It was a great sight.


Swainson’s Hawk

Along the drive we saw a Lark Sparrow and Burrowing Owls among other things. We made the most of the day and ended up seeing 40 different bird species that day.  Very successful!


Western Kingbird


Lark Sparrow


Burrowing Owl


American Kestrel


Horned Lark

I really enjoyed birding with Bob.  I’m hoping he can come back again sometime.  He was a great birding buddy! And maybe someday I can make it to Oregon to see his neck of the woods.  🙂

2 thoughts on “Birding in the Sandia Mountains, NM

  1. Whoo Hoo! Some excellent photos this week, especially that Yellow-rumped Warbler, Cedar Waxwing and Horned Lark. Great you got that Three-toed, too – not that easy to find up there.

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