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PHOTO of Audubon print of the woodpecker “The Lord God Bird” by John James Audubon

Winter Birding in the Enchanted Circle


New Mexico is known for having a wide variety of bird species at every elevation, with ever-changing species by season. This winter is a perfect time to take visiting friends and family on a tour of the Enchanted Circle and search for these beauties. There’s a checklist of species at the bottom, and if you have a smartphone, the Audubon app allows you to download their field guide for offline use. Otherwise, I can personally recommend the invaluable Birds Of New Mexico Field Guide by Stan Tekiela. Log your sightings on eBird to help ornithologists understand habitat and migration patterns and let us at Questa Del Rio News know what other birds you spotted!

  1. Orilla Verde Campgrounds
    Starting just south of Taos, the Orilla Verde Campgrounds are home to raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds. With a location right next to the Rio Grande, this is a prime location to see a wide variety of our feathered friends.
    Access: NM-570, Taos
    Price: $3 for day use
  2. Heart Lake
    This is a moderate hike that rewards a steep 4.8-mile climb with a breathtaking serene lake. If you’re a more experienced hiker and want an adventure, take the Bull Creek Trail off Lake Fork for a 14-mile ascent to a deeply secluded spot.
    Access: Start at Cabresto Lake and follow the Lake Fork Trail for 1.7 miles, then turn left for the Heart Lake Trail.Price: Free. Features pre-existing campsites near the lake.
  3. Oeste Vista Loop
    A shady 2.5-mile loop nestled in Angel Fire that provides views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Moreno Valley.
    Access: Start across from the Angel Fire Country Club entrance on Mountain View Blvd. (NM Hwy 434)
  4. Eagle’s Nest Lake
    A wide open space that offers boating, fishing, hiking, and of course plenty of opportunity to view wildlife and birds.
    Access: 42 Marina Way, Eagle Nest, NM 87718
  5. Lost Lake Trail
    Located between Red River and Eagle’s Nest, this intermediate trail is also a great fishing spot, as it’s stocked via helicopter with native cutthroat trout. Birds that shelter in aspen and spruce trees will be here.
    Access: Travel south approximately 6 miles on NM State Highway 578 to the junction of Middle Fork and East Fork. The pavement ends here. Take the road to the right, Forest Road 58, for approximately 1.1 miles to a parking area. No turnaround or parking is available beyond this point.
    Price: Free
  6. Goose Creek Trail 65
    A moderate trail that climbs 5.5 miles to Goose Lake and is also accessible via ATV. Alpine inclined birds will be found foraging here.
    Access: From Red River travel 2-1/2 miles up State Road 578. Look for the trailhead on the west side.
    Price: Free

Birding Checklist

Raptors:

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Great Horned Owl

Red Tailed Hawk

Rough Legged Hawk

Songbirds:

Clark’s Nutcracker

Western Meadowlark

Lewis’ Woodpecker

Evening Grosbeak

Cedar Waxwing

Waterfowl:

Gadwall

Ring-Necked Duck

Common Goldeneye

American Coot

Common Merganser

Author

  • Bryce Flanagan moved from Sacramento, CA to Taos County in 2016, and has lived in Questa for two years. He's passionate about the unique and beautiful wildlife of our state and is a regular contributor to the Questa Del Rio News.