New Mexico: Fall 2020

Fall 2020: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Matthew J. Baumann

Raymond L. VanBuskirk

Baumann, M.J., and R.L. VanBuskirk. 2020. Fall 2020: New Mexico. <> North American Birds.

This season was marked by unprecedented bird records, extreme temperature swings across the region resulting in mass die off of insectivorous migratory birds, and an ongoing global pandemicmaking Fall 2020 one of the most exciting and challenging migratory seasons in recent memory (for birds and birders alike). September 28th will go down as the day that two first state records were discovered on opposite ends of the state from each other: a pair of Eared Quetzals in the southwestern mountains and the first inland North American record of European Golden-Plover. The latter slipped through eBird filters disguised as a Black-bellied Plover and almost went unnoticed. Additionally, birders documented the 2nd and 3rd state records of Nelson’s Sparrow, 52 state review species, and 432 species statewide.

Notable rarities included: Eared Quetzal and European Golden-Plover, both new for the state checklist, Ruddy Ground Dove, Nelson’s Sparrow, Allen’s Hummingbird, American Woodcock, Parasitic Jaeger, Roseate Spoonbill, Crested Caracara, Great Kiskadee, Purple Finch, Groove-billed Ani, Common Redpoll, and Black-legged Kittiwake.

Observers: Michael Andersen (MA), John “Lefty” Arnold (JLA), Matthew J. Baumann (MJB), Grant Beauprez (GB), Raymond Bemish (RB), Jennifer Berger (JB), Ed & Ginny Blair (EGB), Mary Brown (MB), David Buckley (DB), Bryan R. Calk (BRC), Bill Cavaliere (BCa), Kathy Cassell (KC), Scott Chalmers (SC), Phil E. Chaon (PEC), Chris Chappell (CC), David Cleary (DC), Beth Cohen (BC), Patrick Collins (PC), Jennie Conway (JC) Alan Craig (AC), Bryan Crawford (BCr), Harl Davidson (HD), Sharon DeCray (SDC), Kathy DeLucas (KDL), Deb Dooley (DD), Steve Drilling (SD), Randall Edmunds (RE), Wyatt Egelhoff (WE), Amy Erickson (AE), Jodhan Fine (JF), Bob Friedrichs (BF), Sharon Fullingim (SF), Joel Gilb (JG), Tony Godfrey (TG), John Gorey (JG), Amanda Graham (AG), John Groves (JGr), Robert Guenther (RG), Robin Gurule (RGu), Ethan Gyllenhaal (EG)

Observers (cont.): 

Mike G. Harvey (MGH), Dave Hawksworth (DH), Nancy Hetrick (NH), Phillip Hicks (PH), Michael Owen Hilchey (MOH), Mark Hinton (MH), Jennifer & Tim Hoffman (JTH), Alec Hopping (AH), Susan Hunter (SH), Donna Kelly (DK), Kyle Kittelberger (KK), Dave J. Krueper (DJK), Samantha Lang (SLa), Rene Laubach (RL), Richard “Dick” Latuchie (RDL) Daniel Leifheit (DL), James Lofton (JL), Stephen Long (SL), Julie Luetzelschwab (JLu),  Jenna McCullough (JM), Billy Medley (BM), Sonja Mendoza (SM), Moses Michelsohn (MM), Kurt Miller (KM), Linda Miller (LM), Rob Modica (RM), Narca Moore-Craig (NMC), Bernard Morris (BMo), Jim Nelson-Moore (JNM), Amy Morrison (AM), Dan & Nancy Newland (DNN), Deanna Nichols (DN), Bob Nieman (BN), Cathy Nishida (CN), Isaiah Nixon (IN), Kurt Ongman (KO), Cristina Ortega (CO), Fernando Ortega (FO), Marie Ostrander (MO), Jack B. Parlapiano (JBP), John Parmeter (JP), Nora & Eric Patterson (NEP), Nicholas Pederson (NP), Mark Pendleton (MP), Eric Pierce (EP), Missy Powell (MPo), Diane Roberts (DR), Merri Rudd (MR), Patricia Russell (PR), Christopher Rustay (CR), Janet Ruth (JR), Catherine Sandell (CSa), Charlotte Sartor (CS), Delia Scholes (DS), Marcy T. Scott (MTS), Kim Score (KS), Emily Severance (ES), Ryan Shaw (RS), Cathy Sheeter (CSh), Michael Shoop (MS), Owen Sinkus (OW), Michael Smith (MSm), Steven Smith (SS), Carolyn Spidle (CSp) Ignorant Stranger (IS), Marcel P. Such (MPS), Jeff Szabat (JS), Hank Taliaferro (HT), Stephen Tarnowski (ST), Andrew Theus (AT), Danny Tipton (DT), Raymond L. VanBuskirk (RLV), Bob Walker (BW), Amanda Walker (AW), Hira Walker (HW), Deb & Lee Wallace (DLW), Twila Watkins (TW), Mark Watson (MW), Andy Weaks (HW), Jacob M. Weinreich (JMW), William F. West (WFW), Jessie Williamson (JW), Christopher Witt (CW), Eleanor Wootten (EW), James Zabriskie (JZ), Matthew Zmuda (MZ)


BLNWR (Bitter Lake N.W.R., Chaves); BdA (Bosque del Apache N.W.R., Socorro); Clovis WTP (Clovis Waste Treatment Plant, Curry); EBL (Elephant Butte Lake, Sierra); MNWR (Maxwell N.W.R, Colfax); MSB (Museum of Southwestern Biology); NMBRC (New Mexico Bird Records Committee); NRT (north Roosevelt migrant trap west of Melrose); P.O. Canyon (Post Office Canyon, Peloncillo Mts., Hidalgo); RGV (Rio Grande Valley)

Waterfowls through Cuckoos

An impressive six Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were in Roswell, Chaves 3 Sep (ph. SS, PC) which were apparently in the area for 10 days. A “Black” Brant was sporadically reported between the Rio Grande Nature Center and Ladera Golf Course, Bernalillo 1–29 Nov (ph. M.Ob). A high count for the season, seven Egyptian Geese were reported in Clovis, Curry 8 Aug and 10 Sep (GB, MJB, NP) continuing the species’ persistence in recent years. An above average season for Surf Scoters produced eleven individuals across the region in seven different counties 17 Oct–9 Nov. Notable were two on 26 Oct at Arthur Park in Estancia (ph. AT) providing a first for Torrance. Three White-winged Scoters were reported; a male at Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax on 27 Oct (ph. TG); one that was grounded in Santa Fe on 29 Oct, which later died in rehabilitation and was sent to the MSB; and another found at Bluewater Lake, Cibola 11–15 Nov (ph. PC, ph. DLW). Single Black Scoters were at BdA 31 Oct (JP, ph. JF, JMW, ph. SM, ph. DLW) and Bluewater Lake, Cibola 11 Nov (ph. NP, ph. PC). Two Long-tailed Ducks were photographed near the NM Tech campus in Socorro 2 Nov (PH). Unusual away from the upper Rio Grande and San Juan River drainages, Barrow’s Goldeneyes were reported at Charette Lakes, Mora on 14 Nov (ph. PC, JW, EG), Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy 21 Nov (ph. JTH), and Ruby Ranch in San Miguel 27 Nov (BFW, JNM). Unusual for Doña Ana, a Red-breasted Merganser was at the West Meas WTP 11 Nov (ph. JG). The only Red-necked Grebe of the season was at Springer Lake, Colfax on 15 Nov (ph. MPS). Common Ground Doves away from Hidalgo where the species is usually encountered included one at Conoco Pond in Lea 16 Oct (BN) and another near Cliff, Grant 26 Oct (JG). A strong Ruddy Ground Dove season produced a gradual build up to five birds in the Rodeo area, Hidalgo from 22 Oct–29 Nov (ph. PEC, KO, ph. M.Ob), a pair in Luis Lopez, Socorro 23–26 Oct (ph. SF, ph. DLW), singles in Las Cruces, Doña Ana 2 Nov (ph. MPo), and another near Radium Springs 15 Nov (ph. MTS, JZ). A surprise Groove-billed Ani was found in Guadalupe Canyon, Hidalgo 23 Oct (ph., rec. PEC, KO). An unusual elevational record, a Greater Roadrunner was seen at Sandia Crest, Bernalillo 10,600 feet elev., 14-27 Nov (ph. M.Ob) alongside Rosy-finches.

Hummingbirds through Shorebirds

Lucifer Hummingbirds were reported in the Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo 1 Aug–24 Sep with a high count of five 7–9 Aug (RV, JF) and three in P.O. Canyon 24 Sep (DS). A Ruby-throated Hummingbird reported from Los Alamos 31 Aug (MSm) provided a first county record. Others across the eastern half of the state where the species is nearly annual in small numbers included up to two in Roosevelt at a private residence 5 Aug–24 Sep (JL), a single in Curry 20–21 Sep (GB), and another at N.R.T 23–26 Sep (PEC, ph. GB, ph. M.Ob). An impressive showing of Anna’s Hummingbirds across the southern half of the state tallied over 30 individuals. Single Costa’s Hummingbirds were at San Simon Cienega, Hidalgo 11 Aug (PEC) and another in Santa Teresa, Doña Ana 16 Sep–3 Oct (ph. PR, ph. JGr). A young male Allen’s Hummingbird continued in Lower Cottonwood Canyon, Hidalgo 1 Aug (ph. NP); see Summer 2020. Wayward Broad-billed Hummingbirds away from the Peloncillo Mountains were in Albuquerque 2–5 Oct (ph. FO, M.Ob), a first for Sandoval in Placitas 17 Oct (ph. OS, CR), and two separate individuals 24 Aug–3 Sep and 13 Oct–30 Nov near Radium Springs, Doña Ana (ph. MTS, JZ). A Common Gallinule was in Fort Sumner, De Baca 9–11 August (GB, DLW). Arguably the highlight of a season already full of vagrants, a European Golden-Plover was present at MNWR for a month 28 Sept–25 Oct (ph. TG, M.Ob) providing the first interior record of the species in North America. It was not reported again after the passage of a potent cold front that brought the season’s first snow and nearly zero degree temperatures. Multiple American Golden-Plovers were reported at BLNWR. Two were there 29 Sep (ph. PEC), a single 10–11 Oct (ph. NP, MB, ph. PC), and two 8 Nov (ph. PC). Another was at the Clovis W.T.P. 8 Oct (ph. GB). Unusual Mountain Plovers records included a single, later joined by a second, at EBL 19–23 Oct (ph. DC), and a lone bird alongside the road after a snowstorm near Double Eagle Airport, Bernalillo 27 Oct (ph. MH). Over 25 Sanderlings were seen across the state during the season with a highlight being a juvenile on Albuquerque’s West Side 10–22 Sep (ph. DB, ph. M.Ob). Eight Short-billed Dowitchers were reported from six counties Bernalillo, Chaves, , Colfax, Doña Ana, Eddy, Socorro 3 Aug–27 Sept. A first for Lea, an American Woodcock was found on the lawn of a private residence in Lovington 27–28 Oct (ph. AG) following a significant snow storm which is only the second record for the eastern plains. Late Willets were singles at M.N.W.R., Colfax 3–8 Oct (ph. M.Ob) and another remarkably late individual at Ute Lake, Quay 15 Nov (ph. PEC, EG, JW). An unprecedented number of Red Phalaropes were found across the state. Singles were at BdA 30 Aug (ph. PEC, EG, JW), Ute Lake, Quay 13 Sep (ph. PEC, EG) and 4 Oct (ph. PEC, EG, JW), Heron Lake, Rio Arriba 26 Sep (WE), Brantley Lake, Eddy 10 Oct (ph. MB, NP), and Pojoaque, Santa Fe 8–9 Nov (ph. RGu, ph. M.Ob).

Jaegers through Woodpeckers

The rarest of the three Jaegers in the state, a juvenile Parasitic Jaeger was at Heron Lake, Rio Arriba 26–27 Sep (Ph. WE, ph. M.Ob). A dark juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger only stuck around for a short time before departing at BdA 30 Aug (ph. SM). First for Bernalillo, a Black-legged Kittiwake was found in Albuquerque 29 Nov (JP) but also departed promptly after initial discovery. Keeping up with recent trends, Sabine’s Gulls were numerous with nearly 20 found across the region 10 Sep–20 Oct. A Laughing Gull was at Brantley Lake, Eddy 29 Aug (ph. BN). A first for Los Alamos, an Iceland Gull was at Bandelier National Monument 28 Oct (ph. JB). Others were in Albuquerque 17 Nov (ph. HT) and Cochiti Lake, Sandoval 22 Nov (ph. ES). An adult Mew Gull was at EBL 13 Nov (JP). A total of seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found this season from Rio Arriba, San Juan, Curry and Bernalillo 25 Sep–20 Nov. Two Caspian Terns were at Ute Lake, Quay 16 Aug (SC) while singles were at Lake Avalon, Eddy 26 Aug (MH) and Conchas Lake, San Miguel 23 Sep (ph. PEC). Especially unusual in fall, an Arctic Tern was at Ute Lake, Quay 4 Oct (ph. PEC, EG, JW) where it provided close study. Single Pacific Loons were reported at Sunland Park Racetrack, Doña Ana 28 Oct (MGH), Charette Lakes, Mora 13 Nov (KS), and Storrie Lake, San Miguel 14 Nov (PEC, EG, JW). Continuing from the summer season, a Neotropic Cormorant was at the Clovis W.T.P. 7–14 Aug (GB, ph. M.Ob). Up to three continued in Corrales, Sandoval until 20 Aug (OS). Brown Pelicans have become quite scarce in the state in recent years and the only report was one from Morgan Lake, San Juan 20–31 Oct (MW, ph. AH). Notable American Bitterns were in Corrales, Sandoval 15 Nov (OS, JP) and Fort Sumner 1 Nov (ph. MJB), which was a first for De Baca. Little Blue Herons have become scarce in the state in the last decade and that trend continued as there was only one report for the season at the Clovis W.T.P. 28 Sep (PEC). The species was recently added back to the review list due to its recent downward trend. Tricolored Herons were numerous with six reported across the state 2 Aug–9 Oct in Bernalillo, Chaves, Eddy, and Sierra. Immature Reddish Egrets were at San Antonio, Socorro 23 Aug (ph. SM), Caballo Lake, Sierra 11 Sep (ph. RDL), 26–27 Sep Heron Lake, Rio Arriba (ph. WE, ph. M.Ob), Brantley Lake, Eddy 10 Oct–28 Nov (ph. NP, MJB, ph. M.Ob), and BLNWR 22 Nov (ph. JF, AT). A late Green Heron was at Paseo del Rio below EBL Dam 1–17 Nov (ph. EG, JP, AM). Keeping with the increasing trend in the state, ten Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were reported from the southeastern part of the state in Curry, Eddy, and Lea. A high count of three were at the Clovis W.T.P. 11–14 Aug (ph. DLW, ph. GB, JP). Even with the influx of Roseate Spoonbills to our west in Arizona this season, the only report in the state was an immature at a small ephemeral pond near the stateline south of Rodeo, Hidalgo 20 Sep (BCa, Ph. NMC, AC). The spoonbill had been in the area but across the stateline for several days prior. A notable White-tailed Kite was north to San Antonio, Socorro 23 Nov (SF). A Common Black Hawk was east of expected range at Conchas Lake, San Miguel 9–13 Sep (ph. RLV. PEC, EG, JP) and a remarkably late individual was at the Glenwood Fish Hatchery, Catron until 26 Nov (JC, RM). It was photographed there on 14 Nov (CR, DLW). One of the rarest Buteos in the state, sub-adult Red-shouldered Hawks were reported at two locations; an ‘eastern’ was at Conchas Lake 9–19 Sep (ph. RLV, PEC, ph. M.Ob), a first for San Miguel, and an elegans was at BdA 3–22 Nov (ph. CSh, ph. AW, JP), the latter having fewer records in the state. Interestingly, accurately identified subspecific records are nearly 50:50 in the RGV whereas only ‘eastern’ birds have been identified east of here and elegans to the west. Unusual in San Miguel, a Zone-tailed Hawk was at Conchas Lake 9–10 Sep (ph. RLV, PEC, ph. NP, MJB). A tie for the highlight of the season were two Eared Quetzals in the Pinos Altos Mountains outside Silver City, Grant 28 Sep–25 Oct (ph. video. DL, ph./rec. M.Ob). This represents the first verified record of the species in New Mexico however there is a reliable sight record from the Animas Mountains from June 1979 (NMOS Field Notes 18:2, AOU 1998:318). These birds were found on the heels of the initial discovery of multiple Quetzals in the Chiricahua Mountains earlier in the year. Notable numbers of late Red-headed Woodpeckers were reported into Oct across much of its expected range in the state, while individuals in Bernalillo, Los Alamos, and Colfax, were not only late but also outside of their expected range. The Los Alamos individual stayed into Nov. Rare anywhere in the state, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were reported at MNWR 10 Oct (ph. DR). A truly impressive season for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers saw nearly thirty reported across the state in twelve different counties 2 Oct to the end of the season. A Crested Caracara was reported south of Rodeo 10 Oct (KK) but was not pinned down until the end of the season 27–29 Nov (ph. CS, ph. M.Ob) as it scavenged carcasses in a field near the state line, Hidalgo.

Flycatchers through Finches

Great Crested Flycatchers were in larger numbers than normal across the region with twelve individuals reported, mostly in eastern NM where the species is annual in fall, but with a noteworthy sighting in Bernalillo on 17–18 Sep (ph. DH, ph. M.Ob). An impressive showing of three Great Kiskadees were recorded across the region after three years with no reports. One long-staying individual at Rio Hondo, Taos represented the first county record and the northernmost record in the state, Jul–19 Oct (NEP, ph M.Ob.) One was at a private residence in Carlsbad, Eddy on 21 Oct (ph./rec. EP, BN); another was at Leasburg Dam SP, Doña Ana 12 Oct (ph. LM, MP) and has been reported off and on into the winter reporting season (ph. M.Ob.). Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are common breeders in southern shortgrass prairie habitats of eastern NM but single individuals in Bernalillo on 14 Sep (MOH) and Torrance on 25 Sep (AT) were outside of their expected range. Two vocalizing Eastern Wood-Pewees were reported at migrant traps in the eastern plains; one at Ned Houk Park, Curry 16 Sep (ph./rec. AH) and another at Melrose Woods, Roosevelt 2 Oct (PEC). A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was photographed at Melrose Woods, Roosevelt 17 Oct (AH). Least Flycatchers made a strong showing around the state this fall with notable individuals in Estancia, Torrance 3 Sep (AT), Los Alamos 19–21 (ph. M.Ob.), and Albuquerque, Bernalillo 26 Sep (MOH). Vermilion Flycatchers continue their recent trend of northward movements in the middle RGV, with 4 individuals recorded in the Albuquerque area, Bernalillo; 12 Sep (MS); 27 Sep (BMo, DN); 25 Oct (CR, SD); and 1-16 Nov (IN, DH, M.Ob.). Northern Shrikes were recorded at multiple locations, further south than expected; Bosque Redondo, De Baca 15 Nov (MJB), BdA, Socorro 15 Nov – into Winter (SLa, M.Ob.), and Elida, Roosevelt 30 Nov (GB). Two hatch-year White-eyed Vireos were at Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy 10 Oct (ph. MJB. NP). Hutton’s Vireos are unexpected in the eastern plains but one was at Bosque Redondo, De Baca 25 Oct (ph. CR, SD) and another was at Maljamar Rest Stop, Lea 6 Nov (ph. GB), both representing first county records. Blue-headed Vireos were reported in typical fall numbers across the eastern plains, with seven individuals reported from Quay, Curry, Roosevelt, and Lea. A late individual was at Hillcrest Park, Curry 20 Nov (ph. GB). Philadelphia Vireos were reported from two locations on 4 Oct; Escondida, Socorro (CW), and along the Pecos River in Santa Rosa, Guadalupe (ph. MOH, RLV, JF, JMW), with the latter representing a first county record. A Canada Jay was seen at Arroyo Hondo, Taos, located at +/- 6700 ft in elevation, and is a surprisingly low elevational record for this species in the state 17 Oct (MOH, JBP, JMW). Like Vermilion Flycatchers, Verdins have been showing a similar trend of northward movement along the RGV into the Albuquerque area of Bernalillo, with one found building a nest (presumably for roosting) at Montessa Park on 12–13 Oct (ph. NP, M.Ob.), and another in the San Antonio Oxbow on 14 Oct (BM). Scattered reports continued into the Winter season. Up to two Pacific Wrens were reported in upper Los Alamos Canyon, Los Alamos 14–27 Nov (rec. MB, BW, M.Ob.). Winter Wrens continue to be an uncommon, and probably overlooked, fall migrant statewide with reports in Bernalillo, Los Alamos, Sandoval, and Roosevelt. Up to 5 Black-capped Gnatcatchers were reported from Guadalupe Canyon, Hidalgo 4 Aug – 23 Oct (ph. KO, PEC, AH, M.Ob.). A single individual photographed in Cottonwood Canyon, Hidalgo 30 Aug (NH) represents a new location for them in the state and the northernmost record. Wood Thrushes were reported widely this fall, with reports on 27 Sep (ph. GB, CSp) and 10 Oct (ph. NH) at NRT; 28 Sep at the Maljamar Rest Area, Lea (ph. PEC); 3–9 Nov at Radium Springs, Doña Ana (JZ, MZ); and 9–18 Nov on Santa Ana Pueblo, Sandoval (ph. CN). A Rufous-backed Robin was in Santa Teresa, Doña Ana 3 Nov (PR, JG) and was a precursor to the large numbers of this species being reported across the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts this winter. Varied Thrushes were seen in the Corrales bosque, Sandoval 21–27 Oct (ph. OS, JBP, M.Ob.); at Glenwood Fish Hatchery, Catron 29 Oct (ph. JC, RM); and at Valle Escondido, Taos 10–16 Nov (ph. KDL), the latter representing a first country record. Outside of their typical New Mexico range, Brown Thrashers were reported from Montessa Park, Bernalillo 15–23 Sep (ph. KS, M.Ob.), and Valley of Fires Recreation Area, Lincoln 13 Oct (ph. DNN). Higher than usual numbers of Evening Grosbeaks were reported in RGV and lowland sites across the region, with the most notable being a single individual at a feeder in Portales, Roosevelt 29 Oct (ph. TW). Purple Finches were found at multiple sites in mid-Nov; with a female at Milnesand, Roosevelt 6 Nov (GB); a male and female at private feeders in Portales, Roosevelt 12–23 Nov (ph. TW, M.Ob.); a female at Bosque Redondo was a first for De Baca 15 Nov (ph. MJB). Cassin’s Finches made a notable push into multiple lowland locations, and in the eastern plains, with reports in Guadalupe, Roosevelt, Eddy, Quay, Lea, Union. A Common Redpoll visiting a feeder in Albuquerque, Bernalillo 3–5 Oct (ph. RE, BCr, M.Ob.) represented a 5th record for the state and was the earliest record by a month and a half, with the majority of records being late in the winter reporting season. Two days after the departure of the Albuquerque redpoll one appeared briefly at the feeders of BdA headquarters, Socorro on 7 Oct (ph. SDC, SL) and was determined to be the same individual based on comparing photographs of the wear pattern of primary tips on the bird’s right wing. Lawrence’s Goldfinches made a small push into Grant in late Oct with one in Silver City 17–18 Oct (ph. KC), and up to 7 reported along the Gila River above Cliff, NM 21 Oct – 2 Nov (EW, JG).

Sparrows through Passerina

Rufous-winged Sparrows continue to be found in Guadalupe Canyon, Hidalgo: the only reliable location for them in the state. A high count of six were reported on 30 Aug (JJ). Rare for the county, a Black-throated Sparrow was reported at Clovis WTP, Curry 9 Sep (GB). American Tree Sparrows were reported further south than normal during early–mid Nov with reports in Sandoval, Roosevelt, Eddy, De Baca, and Bernalillo. Yellow-eyed Juncos were reported at multiple locations outside of their restricted distribution in the state’s SW mountains, with one at Radium Springs, Doña Ana 14–16 Oct (ph. MTS, JZ); one at a Silver City feeder, Grant 23 Oct (JG); and a long-staying individual in a Las Cruces yard, Doña Ana 21 Oct–11 Nov (ph. MPo). Golden-crowned Sparrows were reported across the region, with one in the Corrales Bosque, Sandoval first 9 Oct and staying into the winter (ph. JR, DJK, OS, M.Ob.), one at RGNC, Bernalillo 24 Oct–13 Nov (ph. JLA, M.Ob.), and one along the Rio Grande at Buckman, Santa Fe 29 Oct–11 Nov (ph. CC). Harris’s Sparrows made an impressive showing statewide with reports from Lea, Quay, Santa Fe, Luna, De Baca, Torrance, and Bernalillo. After a three year period with no reports in the state, a LeConte’s Sparrow was at Storrie Lake SP, San Miguel 18–24 Oct (ph. SM, M.Ob.). A Nelson’s Sparrow was flushed from wetland vegetation, and subsequently photographed, at Tres Lagunas, Guadalupe 7–9 Oct (ph. NP, MJB, M.Ob.). This individual represents a 2nd record for the state, and the first “chaseable” record, with the first occurence being of a specimen killed by a house cat in Bernalillo in 2003. One day after the Guadalupe record, another individual was photographed in wetland vegetation at Ute Lake SP, Quay 8–11 Oct (ph. RLV, JF, M.Ob.). A third individual was photographed by an unknown observer at MNWR 15 Oct, though a formal report was never submitted (photo was reviewed, with ID confirmed by RLV on site). With so many reports of such a rare and secretive species in the state, it raises questions as to whether this species is simply going unnoticed across the region during this time of year. However, reliable birders have been checking these locations, and similar habitats, for decades with no records, so it seems likely the pulse of records this season could be attributed to previously unrecorded movements of Nelson’s Sparrows into wetland systems in the western Great Plains. Equally noteworthy records of this species were recorded in neighboring states, during the same time period, supporting this theory. Baird’s Sparrows were seen outside of their typical range in the state with one at the Mesa Rest Area, Chaves 28 Sep (MOH), and another in Los Alamos, Los Alamos 2–12 Oct (JB, M.Ob.) was the first record for the county and was uncharacteristically photographable. Bobolinks were reported at multiple locations across the region, with 7 individuals reported in total, from Bernalillo, Roosevelt, Eddy, Curry, and Lea. Multiple Rusty Blackbirds were reported across the region, with the majority being along the RGV; one was along the river at Tingley Ponds, Bernalillo 19–22 Oct (ph. RLV, M.Ob.); one at the Bernalillo County Compost Pond, Bernalillo 7 Nov (ph. EG); up to 3 near the RGNC, Bernalillo 6–14 Nov (ph. M.Ob.), one of which may have been the bird founder earlier in the season downstream; another 3 were reported from Bandelier N.M. Maintenance Lagoons, Los Alamos 5 Oct (ph. BW, MB). A Louisiana Waterthrush was reported on 23 Aug at Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy (ph. JW, PEC, EG, BN). A Prothonotary Warbler was in the Corrales Bosque, Sandoval 11–15 Sep (ph. RB, M.Ob.). Tennessee Warblers were reported in unusually high numbers across the region, with reports in Radium Springs, Doña Ana 23 Aug (MTS, JZ); Santa Fe, Santa Fe 12 Sep (JS); Little Cherry Creek, Grant 29 Sep–3 Oct (ph. NP, MJB, M.Ob.); Albuquerque, Bernalillo 29 Sep (BMo); Corrales Bosque, Sandoval 3 Oct (HT); Albuquerque, Bernalillo 4 Oct (BMo, DN, HT); Montezuma, San Miguel 19 Oct (MOH, JMW). A bird thought to be a hybrid Mourning X MacGillivray’s Warbler was photographed at NRT, Roosevelt 26 Sep (ph. JF, RLV, PEC, JW, JP) and is the only known report of this hybrid pair in the state. A Cape May Warbler was at NRT, Roosevelt 24 Oct (JP, ph. RLV) bringing the list of parulids recorded at this location to forty-five, the highest at any single location in the United States with room still for growth. Northern Parulas continue to be found with some regularity at migrants traps during spring and fall with 7 reports statewide from Hidalgo, Lea, Eddy, Rio Arriba, Taos, Santa Fe, and Socorro. A Magnolia Warbler reported from a private residence in Doña Ana 4 Oct (MTS, JZ) was the only report all fall. A Bay-breasted Warbler was in Santa Fe on 11 Nov (ph. JLu). A Blackburnian Warbler was at the Buffalo Thunder Casino pond, Santa Fe 24 – 30 Sep (ph. RL, M.Ob.). A presumed hybrid Yellow x Black-throated Blue Warbler was seen and photographed at the UNM duck pond in Albuquerque, Bernalillo 17 Sep (ph. MA, EG, AJ, JW, CW, M.Ob.). A formal paper describing the encounter and identification is being written and will be linked here once published. Annual in the state, five Chestnut-sided Warblers were reported this season from Bernalillo, Colfax, Eddy, and Grant. Three Blackpoll Warblers were reported in the state, with single individuals at Four Hills Country Club, Bernalillo 5 Sep (ph. JBP), UNM duck pond, Bernalillo 12 – 16 Sep (ph. NP, MH, MR, M.Ob.), and Santa Rosa, Guadalupe 27 Sep (NP). Unusually high numbers of Black-throated Blue Warblers were found at multiple locations in late Sep – Oct with 12 reports, including males and females, from Lea, Bernalillo, San Juan, Taos, San Miguel, Sandoval, Otero, and Los Alamos. The male reported in Taos on 13 Oct (ph. BF) was the first county record. Palm Warblers were reported in average numbers in late Sep – Oct, with two in Roosevelt, and one each in Curry, Bernalillo, and Lea. Three Pine Warblers were reported; a male at Maljamar Rest Stop, Lea 6 Nov (ph. BN), a male at a private residence in Portales, Roosevelt 18 Nov (ph. TW), and a female at Four Hills Country Club, Bernalillo 27 Nov (ph. JBP) remaining into the Winter reporting season. Hermit Warblers were reported at two noteworthy locations but were otherwise found at typical migratory sites in the southwestern mountains, with above average numbers reported along the RGV. Rare in the county, one was at the UNM Duck Pond, Bernalillo 12 – 13 Sep (ph. SH, NP, M.Ob.) while another at Tatum Sewage Ponds, Lea (ph. RLV, JF, JMW) represented the first county record. Annual in Fall in the eastern half of the region, Black-throated Green Warblers were reported from Eddy, Roosevelt, Union, Quay, Lea, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Socorro. Annual but usually only reported in small numbers, Scarlet Tanagers were photographed in Santa Rosa 15 Sep (AH) and Silver City 30 Oct (JG). Scarce in fall, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were found in Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Los Alamos, Roosevelt, Sandoval, and Taos 10 Sep–15 Nov. Late Indigo Buntings were at Rattlesnake Springs 8 Nov (ph. BN) and in Socorro 13 Nov (ph. AE). A male Painted Bunting was a surprise in Albuquerque 26 Nov (ph. HW).


American Ornithologists’ Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds, 7th ed. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Photos–New Mexico: Fall 2020
Hover on each image to read the caption.