At least 20 Central New Mexico Thursday Birders stood around in the dining area of the Sandia Crest House (featured in Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico) with binoculars and cameras focused on the deck, feeders and adjacent trees as wave after wave of Rosy-Finches flew in and out. On past visits, I had to wait 20 – 30 minutes between each flock arrival.
Each flock came swirling in, circled once or twice, and then descended into the conifers just beyond the decks. Then, small group, by small group, they dropped onto the deck and feeders.
The staff of the Crest House had sprinkled seed on the snow-packed deck. The rosies acted like chickens scrounging for grit as they foraged on the snow.
The Hepburn’s, which breed in northwestern Canada and up into Alaska, were difficult to spot.
“I have all three species,” stated Mary Lou. “I just need to see a Hepburn’s.”
“The gray on their heads comes all the way to their shoulder,” trip leader, Karen, said. Those that breed in the northern Rockies only have gray above the eye.
One of the birders had her ‘big’ Sibley’s open on the table that anyone could check for plumage differences.
A hungry Abert’s Squirrel scarfed up seed as fast as it could. When it and the finches had finished off the seed on the snow, the squirrel moved to the feeder before scrambling away.Four Stellar’s Jays took control of the tray feeder when the finches were not around. They scattered into the shade of the pines when the Rosy-Finches descended on the feeder. They knew that the finches had a short attention span and would soon be off like a whirlwind. As the finches ascended, the jays appeared and began and resumed their feeding.
A White-breasted Nuthatch appeared from time to time, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch worked its way down the trunk of one of the conifers.
In addition to our group, there were other visiting birders, including several from Tucson who also were part of a Thursday Birder group. Another group had driven down from Colorado.
“Where else can we go while we are in Albuquerque?” one of the visitors inquired as they interacted with our group. “Be sure and come visit us when you travel our way.”
It was a convivial morning watching the Rosy-Finch show from the warmth of the Sandia Crest House.