Fall Birding at Rinconada Canyon

“I only had 6 species when I scouted yesterday,” trip leader Gary told the assembled 19 individuals. “I am hoping it was because of the wind and that with more eyes, today will be better.”

As we started into Rinconada Canyon,one of the hot spots in Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico, someone noticed movement on top of the mesa. A coyote was watching us as we watched it.

coyote on mesa


A Say’s Phoebe hovered above the desert scrub and then landed on a bush.

Soon after, we spotted a Crissal Thrasher, a target bird for several visiting birders.

As we trudged through the dune-like sand covering the trail, a covey of Scaled Quail flew low across the terrain in front of us. And, further out, we spotted an American Kestrel.

A Red-tailed Hawk flew down from the mesa and landed on a power pole next to the road.

Two sparrows flew in and landed in some sand sage. It took a while for one of them to pop up briefly and then fly to another plant where it perched on top and flicked its tail down. The field marks and behavior clearly identified it as a Sage Sparrow. The second one scrounged under the base of the bush.

Sage Sparrow - photo by Joe Schelling


A raven flapped its way near the outcropping. “It’s a Chihuahuan Raven,” Sei said. “Notice its more frequent, shallow wing beat which is different from the Common Raven.”

It was croaking as it flew over. I checked the call of the Chihuahuan Raven on my phone and it was a perfect match – higher than the Common Raven.

At the far end of the canyon, we stopped to watch both a Bewick’s Wren and a Rock Wren that were calling and moving around the same boulder – the Rock Wren on top and the Bewick’s Wren in the scrub at its base.

Bewick's Wren - photo by Joe Schelling


Those that were near the front of the group were treated to a Greater Roadrunner as it pranced across the trail.

As we followed the trail around the end of the canyon, we encountered a number of Rock Wrens – I counted 6 along the 2.2 mile trail.

Rock Wren - photo by Joe Schelling


We spotted only one Canyon Towhee, which was surprising. Gary helped a visiting birder get a good look at it, as it was a life bird for her.

When I was almost back to the parking lot, a Crissal Thrasher flew in and landed nearby.

Crissal Thrasher


When we tallied up all the birds seen during our 3 hour walk, we had 16 species. It was a delightful morning.

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3 thoughts on “Fall Birding at Rinconada Canyon

  1. I think we were all pleasantly surprised that we saw as many species as we did. The Prairie Falcon that flew by at the end was a perfect finish.

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