Sage Thrasher in San Pedro Creek Estates

Eight hardy Thursday Birders braved frigid temperatures to head to San Pedro Creek Estates north of Sandia Park off of NM-14. Despite the cold, the sun was shining and we were grateful that there was no breeze.

Our first stop was at a pull-out next to an arroyo along the highway where 15 Western Bluebirds were perched on a power line across the highway. One-by-one, they flew across to our side of the highway and landed briefly on the top of a piñon pine, before disappearing. Both Pine Siskins and House Finches joined the parade.

“What raptor is that?” someone pointed to a tree on the horizon. Trip leader, Lannois, and Rebecca got out their scopes to check it out.

“It’s a Red-tail Hawk enjoying its breakfast,” Lannois announced.

San Pedro Creek Estates, a development with 10-acre lots, has lots of open space to search for birds. Our first species was a Townsend’s Solitaire.

Townsend's Solitaire

Townsend’s Solitaire

We would see several of them during the morning.

A Ladder-backed Woodpecker worked diligently in a small cholla next to the road.

“I’m going to head first to the ‘bluebird’ spot,” Lannois told us. It lived up to its name with many Mountain Bluebirds. The sunlight set off the colors of the males.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

American Robins seemed to be around every corner, along with Dark-eyed Juncos.

“Sage Thrasher,” announced someone in the other car. We all hopped out of the cars and started searching, for the now secretive thrasher. Canyon Towhees, American Robins, and Dark-eyed Juncos were busy scratching in the snow for plant seeds.

Sage Thrasher - photo by Joe Schelling

Sage Thrasher – photo by Joe Schelling

And then, it hopped out from behind a juniper and we all got great looks – definitely the bird of the day.

It had been a delightful day. Most of our birding had been done from snug within the cars, with only brief forays into the cold mountain air. A great way to kick off the new year.

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