Wildlife Highlights of 2012

To continue a tradition I started in 2008, the following are my top wildlife highlights of 2012 in chronological order:

Watching the crows come into roost at Albuquerque’s Coronado Mall – truly a winter spectacle as hundreds of crows converge on the mall and settle into the branches of a number of bare-branched trees.

American Crow roost - Coronado Mall, Albuquerque

American Crow roost – Coronado Mall, Albuquerque


Seeking out and keeping a watch on nesting Great Horned Owls in the Albuquerque area.
Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl


On a visit to the Sepulveda Wildlife Area near Encino, I encountered an Anna’s Hummingbird on a nest.
Anna's Hummingbird on nest at Sepulveda Wildlife Area

Anna’s Hummingbird on nest at Sepulveda Wildlife Area


Helping to band and radio tag a Cooper’s Hawk, part of the Albuquerque Cooper’s Hawk Project, – then getting to release it afterwards, was a real thrill. I monitored 8 different nests in 2012 – from courtship displays and nest-building to fledgling chicks.
releasing radio-tagged Cooper's Hawk

releasing radio-tagged Cooper’s Hawk


It was hard to pick one highlight from my trip to Southeast Arizona with my friend Bonnie. I saw so many colorful birds; however, the highlight would have to be watching an Elf Owl emerge from his hole – by the light of May 2012’s ‘super moon.’
Elf Owl peeking from hole - photo by Bonnie Long

Elf Owl peeking from hole – photo by Bonnie Long


My favorite wildlife sighting in Minnesota, was the opportunity to see a Common Loon sitting on its nest.
Common Loons nesting - Tamarac NWR

Common Loons nesting – Tamarac NWR


While I saw many new birds in North Dakota, I loved coming across a herd of bison on the refuge road at Arrowwood NWR.
bison herd - Arrowwood NWR

bison herd – Arrowwood NWR


It was wonderful to be able to enjoy the birds coming into the ‘Log’ at Capulin Spring Picnic Area this past summer – after being closed for a couple of years.
Red-naped Sapsucker letting Cassin's Finch know he was there first.

Red-naped Sapsucker letting Cassin’s Finch know he was there first.


While researching our next book on birding hot spots in north-central New Mexico, we were treated to a flock of Evening Grosbeaks feasting on berries at Coyote State Park.
Evening Grosbeak - Coyote State Park

Evening Grosbeak – Coyote State Park


I was lucky to be able to get good looks at least two of the White-winged Crossbills that spent time in the Sandia Mountains during the summer of 2012.
White-winged Crossbill

White-winged Crossbill


Two of my favorite birds from my trip to Ecuador in November were the Andean Condor
male Andean Condor - Photo by Bonnie Long

male Andean Condor – Photo by Bonnie Long


and the prehistoric-looking Hoatzins.
Hoatzin - Napo Wildlife Center

Hoatzin – Napo Wildlife Center


During the Sandia Christmas Bird Count, we had the good future of encountering a flock of at least 200 Pinyon Jays.
Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jay

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3 thoughts on “Wildlife Highlights of 2012

  1. I love this, partly because there are a couple of things in here that people might think of as ordinary (crows at the mall?) in which you noticed the extra-ordinary.

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