Spring Birds at Randall Davey Audubon Center and Santa Fe Canyon Preserve

Wings whirred around the ten Central New Mexico Audubon Thursday Birders as we gathered in the parking lot of the Randall Davey Audubon Center. Black-chinned and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds seemed to be everywhere.

“I have asked Cheryl Grindle to lead our walk through Randall Davey and the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve today,” trip leader Barbara Hussey told the assembled group. “She leads bird walks here regularly and can supply more details about what we are seeing.”

As we walked into the courtyard garden, the zshree calls of Pine Siskins seemed to come from all over. A lingering Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco kept the siskins company on the hanging feeder as they all devoured seed.

Dark-eyed Junco and Pine Siskins on feeder

Dark-eyed Junco and Pine Siskins on feeder

An American Robin sang outside the Randall Davey House and a Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker probed the branches of the old cottonwood tree. A number of House Finches flew back and forth.

We stopped to watch a White-breasted Nuthatch fly out of its next box near the picnic tables. “It is feeding chicks,” Cheryl told us.

“Green-tailed Towhee,” I signaled. “It just scooted behind the fence.” Some of the group got a chance to see it before it flew across the service road to a brush pile. We walked towards where it had dropped down, hoping that the rest of the group would be able to see it. While we were looking for the towhee, Barbara spotted a House Wren.

We walked down the service road and across Upper Canyon Road to access the trail into the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, an area that is managed and protected by The Nature Conservancy. I had forgotten how deep the steps were down into the canyon and was glad that someone was able to give me a hand on my way down.

A Spotted Towhee greeted us with his spring song and a pair of Bushtits buzzed in the undergrowth as they foraged together.

As we stepped across the rocks where water flows from the Santa Fe River, the creek bed was dry. On the far side of the meadow a Western Scrub Jay perched on the sign indicating trail options. “I always suggest that birders take the trail to the left,” Cheryl told the group. “They both end up in the same place, but the lower trail winds through the willows which attracts birds.”

Sure enough, after we crossed back over the stream, checked the overlook, and headed up the trail, we heard a soft warbler chit and finally located a Wilson’s Warbler. There were two of them foraging together.

Wilson's Warbler - photo by Joe Schelling

Wilson’s Warbler – photo by Joe Schelling

A little further on we encountered a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Barb spotted a Western Tanager, which promptly flew before we could see it.

“I hear another warbler,” I told Cheryl. The chitting was coming low within a bush and pretty soon we saw yellow and black. “MacGillivray’s,” I said when I could see the dark head and broken eye-ring.

“We are going to take the ‘Enjoy the Mud’ trail today since it is so try,” Cheryl told us. “I like it because it will take us beside the marsh.”

We stopped to look out over reservoir where a lone American Coot was swimming. “I think it is the same coot I saw last time I was here,” Phil commented.
Violet-green and Northern Rough-winged Swallows swooped over the water.

Red-winged Blackbirds called from tops of the cattails, sometimes flying back and forth as if to claim their territory.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

At the top of the trail out of the canyon were two Chipping Sparrows and we could watch the antics of the Black-billed Magpies.

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie

We walked to Canyon Road from the trailhead parking area. We saw movement and stopped to search the trees and low shrubs. There were two Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Virginia’s Warbler.

Two Black-headed Grosbeaks were singing their hearts out further up the road. We had been hearing them all morning, but these two gave us really good looks.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

Just before returning to Randall Davey, we enjoyed watching three Townsend’s Solitaires in a juniper tree. Both the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Santa Fe Canyon Preserve are featured in Birding Hot Spots of Santa Fe, Taos and Northern New Mexico. 


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