Sparrows popped up and flitted among the grasses as 34 Central New Mexico Audubon Thursday Birders started their walk around the Los Poblanos Open Space. Scope views determined that they were Savannah Sparrows – and I counted over 20 as they moved around. Each year for the last several years, more and more Savannah Sparrows have chosen central New Mexico as their wintering grounds.
It was a perfect New Mexico winter morning – clear, sunny and in the low 40’s, so no parka was required.Sandhill Cranes were foraging on our left and on our right, both in small family groups and in large flocks. They diligently burrowed their long bills into the remains of the harvested corn to find hidden kernels and insects. They seemed unperturbed by our procession through the fields. During the two and a half hour time we spent in the Open Space, cranes flew in and flew out and positions changed and adjusted – as cranes are wont to do.
We noticed a flock of birds rise up, circle around on the far side of the field and then settle down again – only Rock Pigeons! Perhaps they were spooked by the Red-tailed Hawk spotted by one of the group as it settled into a large tree.
“We need to check out the grass around this shed and just beyond,” trip leader Lefty told us. “It is where I saw a Lincoln’s Sparrow when I was here two days ago scouting.”
The first birds we spotted were Song Sparrows. Then there was more movement – more Savannah Sparrows; however, we could observe them at closer range.
At the north end of the Open Space, we headed west along the ditch bank. We stopped at the northwest corner to check out the remains of the community garden. There was a flock of female Red-winged Blackbirds, which were replaced by White-crowned Sparrows.
As we headed south again, we spotted a Bewick’s Wren busy in the lone tree. Further along was a Greater Roadrunner prancing along just behind the homes that back up to the Open Space.
We stopped to check out a flock of geese, to make sure that a White-fronted Goose was not lurking among the Canadas. There wasn’t. Then another flock of geese flew in.
“Those are Cackling Geese,” Gale commented. “They have a high pitched, almost squeaky call, compared with Canadas.”
As we were tallying up the species for the morning, an American Kestrel flew in and perched on a nearby wire giving us great views.
The plethora of Savannah Sparrows was the treat of the morning.