Nesting Birds in New Mexico’s Corrales Bosque

A Says Phoebe perched on top of a thin vertical branch, flicked its tail and then flew off. We were heading into the north end of the Corrales Bosque. The access road edged along the north side of an irrigation ditch. On the other side of the ditch two birds scrounged in the dirt. As we neared, they flushed into trees and I could see that they were Blue Grosbeaks.

It felt good to be birding again after a three month hiatus while dealing with knee problems. A light mist was falling and the breeze was cool. I was glad I had grabbed my light weight fleece to put under my windbreaker, since the temperature was about 40 degrees cooler than the previous day’s high temperature in the low 90’s.

We headed up river a short ways. Violet-green Swallows circled and careened over the Rio Grande, dipping down to pluck insects from the surface of the water. The water level was still high from winter run off and flowing swiftly, so there were no birds on the river.

However, there was plenty of activity in the Russian Olives along the bank. A Black Phoebe perched low, flew out and then returned to savor its catch. A Western Kingbird perched on top of a snag, its pale yellow breast glistening in sharp contrast to the overcast skies.

Western Wood Peewees were every where as we walked along the trail through the bosque. “Maybe it is just one that is following us,” Larry joked. Black-chinned Hummingbirds were also prevalent and could be heard buzzing and seen darting. Occasionally one would land on a branch and momentarily rest.

Spotted Towhees were singing on territory and hopping through the leaf litter.

A Warbling Vireo sang from one of the cottonwoods. We never did see it; however, I recognized its melodic up and down song. Another heard, but not seen bird was the Summer Tanager.

We kept hearing the chatter of Yellow-breasted Chats; however they were elusive. Finally, Ralph spotted one. “Its yellow throat and chest really stood out,” he exclaimed.

“I think there is a Hammond’s Flycatcher,” Rebecca beckoned to the rest of us. “When I looked at it through the scope before it took off, it had an eye-ring and a shorter tail than the peewees we have been seeing.”

The sun began to peek out and the air warmed slightly.

When the trail reached the river, we heard the “weet weet weet” call of a Spotted Sandpiper and saw it calling from a snag in the middle of the river. The spots of its breeding plumage really stood out and when I looked at it through my binoculars, I could see its throat move as it sang.

We were alerted to the presence of a Black-headed Grosbeak when we heard its exuberant song, and then we saw a pair fly into a cottonwood. Their bright orange plumage was easy to see among the leaves.

Someone spotted a Downey Woodpecker. “It’s not acting like a woodpecker,” Gale, the trip leader, commented. “It must be catching insects for its young.”

As we headed up to the main ditch bank, we noticed a dark cloud looming to the south. “I don’t run anymore,” I commented, “so I am going to head back.” Big rain drops were falling as I reached the car.

We headed down the road to the Village Pizza to enjoy lunch and celebrate two “decade” birthdays.

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