Sunday, November 24, 2013

Birding Rio Grande Nature Center

On our second day in Albuquerque, there had been light rain during the night, continuing into the morning, and reports of snow and high winds up at Sandia Crest. We therefore decided to begin our day at Rio Grande Nature Center.  There were reports on the Internet that a  Harris's Sparrow had been present there for the past three days. 

As we entered the parking lot, we delighted in the beauty of a Cottonwood in all its fall glory.

Cottonwood tree at Rio Grande Nature Center 20131105

At the pond next to the parking lot, there was a mixed assembly of dabbling ducks, mostly Mallards. Among them, a beautiful male Gadwall.

Gadwall male 20131105

A single Western Grebe with firery red eyes stood out in the center of the pond.

Western Grebe 20131105

Western Grebe 2-20131105

A lone Pied-billed Grebe looked tiny in comparison.

Pied-billed Grebe 20131105

A pair of Hooded Mergansers appeared briefly, and I was lucky to catch them before they swam out of sight.

Hooded Mergansers 20131105

Our next stop was at the feeders on the way to the interpretive center. White-crowned Sparrows were abundant.

White-crowned Sparrow 20131105

In the past it was unusual for us to see more than one or two White-throated Sparrows here, but this morning we saw at least six adults.

White-throated Sparrow 20131105

They had bright golden lores.

White-throated Sparrow 2-20131105

We were amazed to see that huge numbers of White-winged Doves were mobbing the feeders. We led bird hikes there, and White-wings were absent until just before we moved to Florida in 2004.

White-winged Doves 20131105

A White-breasted Nuthatch joined Red-winged Blackbirds at the feeder.

White-breasted Nuthatch with Red-winged Blackbirds 20131105

This Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco wears evidence of the efficiency of the RGNC banding team.

Dark-eyed Oregon Junco 20131105

The golden Cottonwood leaves provided a beautiful background a Downy Woodpecker which, uncharacteristically lacks black markings on its outer tail feathers.

Downy Woodpecker 20131105

An unusual find was this Townsend's Solitaire, which usually does not stray so far from the Sandia foothills.

Townsend's Solitaire 20131105

We then watched the pond adjacent to the interpretive center, where we found several pairs of brightly-colored Wood Ducks. These two dominated the feeder.

Wood Ducks 20131105

Here is another beautiful male.

Wood Duck male 20131105

The rain let up, and Mary Lou and I birded the area and searched for the Harris's Sparrow until the interpretive center opened at 10:00 AM. Unfortunately, no one had left a record of exactly where the sparrow had been seen, and we were unsuccessful in our quest. 


  1. The ducks are awesome! And the Cottonwood tree is beautiful. Great post and photos!

  2. Thank you for the beautiful photos of your visit. I especially enjoyed seeing the doves and the wood ducks. My morning coffee and visiting the rosy-finch blogspot-brightens up the day :)

  3. Thank you for sharing the photos of your visit to the Rio Grande Nature Center. I especially enjoyed seeing the doves and the wood ducks. Looked like you had a wonderful day for shooting photos! My morning coffee and a visit to the Rosyfinch Ramblings blog makes for a bright day : )

  4. Excellent photos! I love the grebe and the wood duck.

  5. i've been fortunate to see the harris' here when they migrate thru. lovely shots of the wood ducks, the hoodeds, the pied-billed! i miss the pied-billed that would winter here.

  6. Hi Ken. What a wonderful selection of birds that you found Nd great shot of them all. I love the White throated Sparrow looking directly into the cAmera and the Wood ducks always make for good photos

  7. Wonderful walk through a wonderful place, Ken; thanks! It's always struck me as unusually rich in eastern emberizids--saw an introgressant Spotted x Eastern Towhee there one winter.
    The Downy Woodpecker is of the race leucurus, which has minimal dark in the outer rectrices.

  8. Nice place for bird watching. Great variety.

  9. Awesome serie of birdphotos!
    Well done!

  10. A great variety of birds and ducks - even if you didn't see the special bird that you wanted. Great photos.

  11. Wow Ken, Many of those species would really turn on a UK birder. I'm thinking about Pied-billed Grebe and Hooded Merganser but also White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows - love your photos. It's very interesting how many species of doves (but not necessarily pigeons) have done so well in recent years. Food for thought or study there I think.

  12. A terrific set of pics a feast for the eyes !!!.
    All the best Gordon.

  13. What a great day out! Love that Grebe looking right into the camera, and the wood ducks are splendid!

  14. so many satunning species. Love the grebe and the ducks and.......


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