New Mexico: Fall 2021

Fall 2021: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Matthew J. Baumann

Raymond L. VanBuskirk

Jodhan Fine

Andrew T. Theus

Recommended citation:

Baumann, M. J., R. L. VanBuskirk, J. Fine., and A. Theus. 2021. Fall 2021: New Mexico. <> North American Birds.

Fall 2021 was yet another drought-ridden season in the state of New Mexico. While there was not enough precipitation to majorly combat the effects of the ongoing drought, the state fortunately experienced an above average monsoon season, particularly in the southwest region. Most notable this season were two unprecedented first state records: Blue Mockingbird and Yellow-footed Gull. In addition to the two first state records, an impressive 35 state review list species were documented this season, highlighted by Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaeger, Ancient Murrelet, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Blackburnian, Prairie, and Canada Warblers.

BLNWR (Bitter Lake N.W.R., Chaves); BdA (Bosque del Apache N.W.R., Socorro); WWCA (Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area., Valencia); RGNC (Rio Grande Nature Center., Bernalillo); WTP (Waste Treatment Plant); NRT (north Roosevelt Co migrant trap west of Melrose)

Waterfowl through Hummingbirds

Three “Black” Brant were at the RGNC 4–5 Nov (ph. M. Rudd, m. ob.). Presumably the same three birds were seen in agricultural fields in the Albuquerque South Valley several days later, Bernalillo Co 11 Nov (ph. S. Parker, T. Dimarzio). Two more “Black” Brant were at the Clovis WTP, Curry Co 22 Nov (ph. G. Beauprez). A single Tundra Swan was at BdA, 12 Nov (ph. A. Warner, V. Dern, m. ob.). Up to seven Tundra Swan were reported at Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, but after the initial observation the count decreased to two birds, potentially new individuals, Colfax Co 18-30 (E. Heath ph. C. Wood, m. ob.). Two Tundra Swan were at the nearby Laguna Madre, possibly individuals from Maxwell, Colfax Co 21 Nov (C. Rustay, O. Hilchey). A Eurasian Wigeon was at Singer Lake, Chaves Co 23 Nov (ph. N. Vinciguerra). Single Greater Scaup were at the Sunland Park Racetrack, Dona Ana Co 7–15 Nov (W. Egelhoff, ph. J. Gilb, m. ob.), Caballo Lake, Sierra Co 9 Nov (ph. T. Godfrey), and Holloman Lakes, Otero Co 25 Nov (N. Pederson). Two Surf Scoters were at Holloman Lakes, Otero Co 22 Oct (ph. M. Ostrander, R. Ostrander, J. Calderara, D. Osterhaus), and singles were at Turtle Bay Park, Socorro Co 23–24 Nov (ph. M. Baumann, m. ob.) and Holloman Lakes, Otero Co 11–26 Nov (ph. M. Ostrander, R. Ostrander, m. ob.). White-winged Scoters had an impressive fall with singles at Lake Roberts, Grant Co 7–13 Nov (K. Dayer, m. ob.), Springer Lake, Colfax Co 24 Nov (ph. C. Wood, J. Barry), and Laguna Madre, Colfax Co 26 Nov (ph. K. Carragher, B. Percival). Two more White-winged Scoters were joined by the previously mentioned single Surf Scoter at Holloman Lakes, Otero Co 11–25 Nov (ph. C. Spidle, m. ob.). Two Long-tailed Ducks were photographed at Farmington Lake, San Juan Co 18 Nov (ph. S. Tarnowski). Notable Red-breasted Merganser sightings occurred at the West Mesa WTP where up to four individuals were seen, Dona Ana Co 4–21 Nov (ph. J. Gilb, m. ob.) and at Holloman Lakes where three birds were found, Otero Co 12–28 Nov (ph. M. Ostrander, R. Ostrander, m. ob.).

An Inca Dove, scarce over the last decade in central New Mexico, was in Luis Lopez, Socorro Co 24 Oct (ph. J. March, R. Roy, S. Fullingim). Four Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were seen across the eastern plains this fall: an adult male was photographed by an iNaturalist user in Carlsbad, Eddy Co 16 Aug, an immature male was seen in Roswell, Chaves Co 19 Sep (ph. J. Busby), and single female types were seen in Sedan, Union Co 26 Sep (ph. N. Hetrick, K, Warren, C. Rustay) and at a private Clovis home, Curry Co 1 Oct (G. Beauprez). A late Black-chinned Hummingbird was at a house in Four Hills, Bernalillo Co 22–30 Nov (C. Harris, ph. M. Baumann). Anna’s Hummingbird were reported in Dona Ana Co, Sierra Co, Grant Co, and Hidalgo Co, as well as at the East Tijeras Arroyo Open Space, a much less expected location for the species, Bernalillo Co 29 Oct (ph. T. Maher). Several Broad-billed Hummingbirds strayed into the Las Cruces area with sightings in Santa Teresa, Dona Ana Co 9–11 Oct (ph. P. Russell, J. Groves, J. Gilb) and at a private residence in North Las Cruces, Dona Ana Co 21 Sep (ph. L. Howard Phillips).

Shorebirds through Terns

Single Ruddy Turnstone were at Elephant Butte Lake, Sierra Co 31 Aug (ph. D. Cleary), McMillan Dam Wetlands, Eddy Co Sep 4 (ph. B. Nieman), Storrie Lake, San Miguel Co 16 Sep (W. Jaremko-Wright, A. Miller, ph. R. Laubach, W. Egelhoff), and Brantley Lake, Eddy Co 25 Sep–8 Oct (ph. B. Nieman). Two juvenile Red Knot were at Elephant Butte Lake, Sierra Co 28 Aug–1 Sep (ph. D. Cleary, W. Egelhoff). An astonishing 1400 Stilt Sandpipers were reported at the Clovis WTP, Curry Co 23 Sep (M. Iliff, H. Taliaferro). Multiple SESA were seen at various locations around Albuquerque including the County Compost Pond, Bernalillo Co 7–13 Aug and the North Diversion Channel, Bernalillo Co 10–19 Aug. A Short-billed Dowitcher was at the Clovis WTP, Curry Co 27 Aug–5 Sep (J. Parmeter). An American Woodcock was an impressive record from Estancia’s hidden gem Arthur Park, Torrance Co 8 Sep (K. Hamblett, A. Theus). A Pomarine Jaeger was at Ute Lake, Quay Co 24 Sep (ph. D. Johnson) and a Long-tailed Jaeger was found at Eagle Nest Lake, Colfax Co 17–23 Sep (ph. O. Hilchey, m. ob.). Both Jaegers allowed for remarkably good looks and pictures. A distant probable Pomarine Jaeger was found and left unidentified at Sumner Lake due to inconclusive looks, De Baca Co 23 Sep (ph. D. Buckley, C. Brozek). One of the most bizzare records this fall was the state’s second ever Ancient Murrelet found in Placitas nowhere immediately close to water, Sandoval Co 17 Nov. The bird was taken to rehab and did not survive the night of the 18th.

A Black-legged Kittiwake at the Alameda Bridge and Open Space continued the species’ recent trend of making brief, under an hour long appearances along the Rio Grande, Bernalillo Co 22 Nov (ph. R. Bergstrom, A. Bergstrom). Sabine’s Gulls were seen in Sierra, Socorro, Bernalillo, Otero, Eddy, De Baca, Quay, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, and Colfax Co’s with high counts of four individuals at Stubblefield Lake, Colfax Co 24 Sep (C. Woehler, ph. T. Jackman) and Ute Lake, Quay Co 25 Sep (W. Egelhoff). A Laughing Gull joined the Long-tailed Jaeger at Eagle Nest Lake, Colfax Co 18–25 Sep (ph. R. Laubach, m. ob.). Formerly known as Mew Gull, recently split Short-billed Gull singles were at the Alameda Bridge and Open Space, Bernalillo Co 21 Nov (ph. D. Buckley, P. Rogers, I. Rogers) and the Sunland Park Racetrack, Dona Ana Co 27 Nov (ph. J. Gilb). One of the season’s most impressive records was a first cycle Yellow-footed Gull, the easternmost record in the US to date, discovered at Sumner Lake, De Baca Co 10 Sep–21 Nov (ph. M. Baumann, m. ob.). A Herring gull—an impressive record in a county with very limited water—was at Brown Lake, Torrance Co 14 Nov (A. Theus). Lesser Black-backed Gulls continue to become more abundant in the state with singles at the Sunland Park Racetrack, Dona Ana Co 27–30 Nov (ph. B. Carnes, m. ob.), Elephant Butte Lake, Sierra Co 27 Nov (B. Carpenter), Santa Rosa Lake, Guadalupe Co 14 Nov (ph. E. Raynor, N. Komar, C. Wild), the Alameda Bridge and Open Space, Bernalillo Co 23–24 Nov (ph. L. Wallace, D. Wallace, m. ob.), Navajo Lake, San Juan Co 6 Oct (ph. J. Dowell, T. Dowell), and Farmington Lake, San Juan Co 5–23 Nov (S. Tarnowski, E. Helton). An additional two individuals were seen at Heron Lake, Rio Arriba Co 18 Sep (ph. B. Morris). Single Caspian Terns were at McMillan Dam Wetlands, Eddy Co 6 Sep (ph. B. Nieman) and Caballo Lake, Sierra Co 13 Sep (P. Chaon), while four were at BDA, 22 Oct (K. Tranquillo, C. Urban, D. Chartier, Ken Cox, ph. S. Hunter). Varying numbers of Common Tern, maxing out at three individuals, were seen in San Miguel Co, Quay Co, De Baca Co, and Eddy Co.

Loons through Vireos

A Red-throated Loon was at Brantley Lake, Eddy Co 21–23 (ph. M. Baumann, C. Wolf, m. ob.). Two Pacific Loons—a species that in recent years has become more difficult in the state to see—were at Stubblefield Lake, Colfax Co 20 Nov (ph. C. Wood, J. Barry). A Brown Pelican, possibly continuing from the summer, was at Morgan Lake, San Juan Co 15–22 Aug (ph. S. Tarnowski, N. Pederson). Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were at a Santa Teresa drainage pond, Dona Ana Co 7 Aug (ph. P. Russell), the Clovis WTP, Curry Co 23–24 Sep (M. Iliff, H. Taliaferro ph. C. Brozek), Hillcrest Park, Curry Co 2 Oct (ph. O. Sinkus, J. Parlapiano), and the McMillan Dam Wetlands, Eddy Co 6 Sep–3 Oct (ph. B. Nieman, C. Chappell). A White-tailed Kite continued from the summer BDA, 16 Aug–30 Nov (ph. D. Mickelson, m. ob.). An immature Gray Hawk photographed at Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex marked the northernmost record for New Mexico, Socorro Co 13–14 Nov (ph. D. Johnson). An immature Red-shouldered Hawk elegans ssp. was at Quemado Lake, Catron Co Aug 29–Sep 9 (ph. C. Rustay, W. Egelhoff, N. Hetrick, K. Cox). Notable Lewis’s Woodpecker occurrences were recorded at the Lower Gila Box, Hidalgo Co 16 Oct (J. Williamson), River Ranch WMA, Luna Co 9 Nov (ph. J. Gilb), and Aguirre Spring Recreation Area, Dona Ana Co 7 Nov (ph. D. Osterhaus, K. Boland). An American Three-toed Woodpecker was reported at the Hilso Trailhead, Mckinley Co 27 Nov (W. Harmon).

Great-crested Flycatchers were in Curry Co, Roosevelt Co, Lea Co, Eddy Co, and San Miguel Co. The most unusual Great-crested Flycatcher record this season was from the RGNC, 26 Sep (ph. J. C’deBaca, I. Rogers, P. Rogers). Single Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers were at the San Vicente Cienega Trail, Grant Co 10–11 Sep (ph. D. McDonald, K. Dayer) and the Turkey Creek Confluence, Grant Co 4 Oct (rec. J. Gorey). A group of three Tropical Kingbirds were discovered at a private residence in Anthony, Dona Ana 2–31 Aug, (rec. ph. D. Belcher,  m. ob.) and a single bird was found at Clines Corners, Torrance Co 22 Sep–8 Oct (rec. ph. O. Hilchey, m. ob.). Using a clicker, an impressive 114 Cassin’s Kingbirds were counted at Fort Stanton Historic Site, Lincoln Co 12 Aug (D. Horton). A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was at Bosque Redondo Park, De Baca 26 Sep (ph. J. Williamson, E. Gyllenhaal, m. ob.). A White-eyed Vireo was at Storrie Lake, San Miguel Co 4 Sep (ph. A. Theus). Single Philadelphia Vireos were at the NRT, 25–27 Sep (J. Parmeter, ph. m. ob.) and the town of Roy, Harding Co 1 Oct (W. Egelhoff). Single Red-eyed Vireo were found in Sierra Co, Bernalillo Co. Santa Fe Co, Taos Co, and Guadulupe Co, and, two individuals were seen at once in Eddy Co, and up to three were in Roosevelt Co.

Shrike through Sparrows

Notable in Southern New Mexico, a Northern Shrike was at BLNWR, 23 Nov (ph. J. Dowell, T. Dowell). Two Sedge Wrens were seen this season: one individual was at the Santa Rosa Golf Course, Guadalupe Co 7–9 Oct (ph. R. Gurule, B. West, L. Farrington, m. ob.), and an even more surprising record was at the Mason Draw Grasslands, Dona Ana Co 9 Oct (ph. J. Glib). Two Pacific Wren at Upper Water Canyon furthered the location’s recent reliability for the species, Los Alamos Co 5–29 Nov (J. Leon, ph. J. Heikoop, C. Heikoop, m. ob.). The uncontested highlight of the season was a code 5 Blue Mockingbird that was found at Rattlesnake Springs and seen by many, surpassing Rufous-necked Wood-Rail as the single most eBirded individual in the state’s history, Eddy Co 14–30 Nov (ph. B. Nieman, m. ob.).

A Purple Finch was in Las Cruces, Dona Ana 25–27 Nov (ph. R. Castetter). A Common Redpoll was reported at Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, Colfax Co 24 Nov (C. Wood, J. Barry). Two Lawrence’s Goldfinch were seen at the San Francisco Hot Springs Trail, Catron Co 21 Oct (ph. J. Glib) and Percha Dam, Sierra 7 Nov (E. Gyllenhaal, J. Williamson), three were at the San Vicente Cienega Trail, Grant Co 12 Oct–22 Nov (ph. D. McDonald, J. Gorey), four were at the Mesilla Valley Bosque SP, Dona Ana Co 26 Oct (J. Glib), up to five were at Leasburg Dam SP, Dona Ana Co 30 Oct–27 Nov (ph. J. Gilb, m. ob.), and at least 9 were in Santa Teresa, Dona Ana Co 29 Oct–12 Nov (ph. J. Groves, m. ob.). American Tree Sparrows were seen at Montessa Park, Bernalillo Co 2 Nov (ph. N Pederson) and the Bosque south of Montaño, Bernalillo Co 4 Nov (B. West). A Golden-crowned Sparrow was in a private Luis Lopez yard, Socorro Co 27 Oct–23 Nov (ph. S. Fullingim, B. Holladay). Harris’s Sparrows were seen across the state in Doña Ana, Socorro, Valencia, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Roosevelt county. A rare Green-tailed and Spotted Towhee hybrid was photographed at the Mars Court Trail, Bernalillo Co 14 Aug (ph. J. Joseph).

Blackbirds through Passerina

Several out of range Orchard Orioles were seen this season at Los Poblanos Open Space, Bernalillo Co 31 Aug (ph. D. Buckley, m. ob.), the East Tijeras Arroyo Open Space, Bernalillo Co 27–29 Sep (ph. T. Maher) the Rio Grande at Buckman, Santa Fe Co 17 Aug (C. Chappell), and Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, Sante Fe Co 18–29 Aug (ph. C. Chappell, m. ob.). Baltimore Orioles were at the NRT, 5–6 Sep (J. Szabat, J. Glib) and a private yard south of Clovis, Curry Co 8 Sep (ph. D. Whitecotton). A late Scott’s Oriole was reported in a private Luis Lopez yard, Socorro Co 11 Oct (S. Fullingim). Single Rusty Blackbirds were at East Morgan Road, Chaves Co 21 Nov (ph. J. Joseph) and Mescalero Lake, Otero Co 27–28 Nov (ph. N. Hetrick). Three Rusty Blackbirds were at Jal Lake, Lea Co 20–21 Nov (ph J. Joseph, T. Adams), four at Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy Co 21–30 Nov (ph. C. Benesh, H. Thomas, m. ob.), and six at Ned Houk Park, Curry Co 23 Nov (ph. D. Whitecotton).

A Louisiana Waterthrush was at Conoco Pond, Lea Co 11 Aug (ph. J. Fine, J. Weinrich, J. Parlapiano). A very late Northern Waterthrush was in the Corrales Bosque, Sandoval Co 2–5 Nov (rec. K. Aldridge, m. ob.). A Golden-winged Warbler was a one day wonder at the NRT, 25 Sep (J. Parmeter, ph. K. Liechty, m. ob.). The only Prothonotary Warbler of the season was found in Estancia, Torrance Co 27 Sep (ph. A. Theus). Hooded Warblers were at the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, Santa Fe Co 15 Aug (ph. B. Lenoble), Upper Los Alamos Canyon, Los Alamos Co 24 Aug (L. Laeser, T. Laeser), and Boone’s Draw, Roosevelt Co 2 Oct (ph. M. Baumann, N. Pederson). Single Northern Parulas were at Arthur Park, Torrance Co 23–25 Sep (ph. A. Theus, m. ob.), the NRT, 2–4 Oct (G. Beauprez, m. ob.), and the town of Encino, Torrance Co 16 Oct (ph. S. Brayshaw), and on separate dates at Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy Co 8 Aug (D. Simpson, B. Nieman) and 4 Oct (C. Chappell). An impressively late Northern Parula was then also found along the Santa Fe River at Paseo Real, Santa Fe Co 12 Nov (ph. T. Adams). A Palm Warbler was in the town of Encino, Torrance Co 16 Oct (ph. S. Brayshaw) and adding to the list of late warblers, another was at the Randall Davey Audubon Center, Santa Fe Co 15 Nov (ph. D. Warfield, A. Collins-Warfield). Magnolia Warblers were at the NRT, 19 Sep (J. Parmeter) and the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, Santa Fe Co 3 Oct (ph. T Ludwick, R. Kirby, m. ob.). A Blackburnian Warbler was at the NRT, 23–24 Sep (ph. M Iliff, H. Taliaferro). Chestnut-sided Warblers were at the NRT, 25 Sep (ph. S. Lang, m. ob.), Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy Co 26 Sep (ph. B. Nieman), and banded at the RGNC, 3 Oct (ph. Rio Grande Bird Research Banders). Blackpoll Warblers were discovered at the NRT, 18 Sep (R. Roy, ph. N. Vinciguerra, J. McCullough) and below Sumner Dam, De Baca Co 24 Sep (ph. M. Baumann). A female Black-throated Blue Warbler was reported at a private yard in Santa Fe, Santa Fe Co 1 Sep (L. Howard) and a male was at the Maljamar Rest Area, Lea Co 24 Sep (ph. B. Nieman). Another female Black-throated Blue Warbler, yet another remarkably late warbler for this season, was at the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, Santa Fe Co 16 Nov (ph. Z. Carlson, T. Adams). A Prairie Warbler was discovered at Slaughter Canyon, Eddy Co 1 Oct (ph. B. Nieman). A regular fall migrant in the state’s southwest corner but a very rare bird in central New Mexico, a Hermit Warbler, was banded at the RGNC, 8 Oct (ph. Rio Grande Bird Research Banders). A Black-throated Green Warbler was found below Sumner Dam, De Baca Co 24–26 Sep (ph. M. Baumann, m. ob.) and another was at Conoco Pond, Lea Co 15 Oct (ph. B. Nieman). A Canada Warbler brought dozens of birders to the UNM Duck Pond, Bernalillo Co 7 Sep (ph. E. Gyllenhaal, m. ob.).

Scarlet Tanagers were at Storrie Lake, San Miguel Co 17 Sep (ph. O. Sinkus, J. Parlapiano) and the NRT, 10 Oct (ph. A. Theus, J. Fine, J. Weinrich, m. ob.). A very late Blue Grosbeak lingered East of the Las Cruces Dam, Dona Ana Co 11–22 Nov (ph. J. Gilb, C. Benesh, H. Thomas). Painted Buntings were seen around Albuquerque at the Crick Ave Greenbelt, Bernalillo Co 30 Aug (ph. D. Buckley, D. Hawksworth) and a private residence, Bernalillo Co 17 Sep (ph. D. Phillips).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 05 Apr 2023.

Photos–New Mexico: Fall 2021

A first New Mexico record and ABA code 5 Blue Mockingbird put Carlsbad Caverns National Park’s Rattlesnake Springs, Eddy Co in the spotlight as birders from across the country flocked to see the amazing Mexican bird over its lengthy stay. This bird was photographed on 28 Nov 2021. Photo © Marky Mutchler.

This first cycle Yellow-footed Gull was a fantastic discovery at Sumner Lake State Park, De Baca Co on 10 Sep 2021 and delighted many birders as it hung around for over two months, representing a first state record, as well as the easternmost record of this species to date in the US. This photo was taken on 20 Nov 2021. Photo © Chris Wood.

New Mexico’s second Ancient Murrelet was found alive, but grounded and emaciated on a walking trail away from water in Placitas, Sandoval Co on 17 Nov. The bird was taken to a rehabilitator, but unfortunately perished. Photo © Mikal Deese.

An unusually cooperative young Long-tailed Jaeger was present at Eagle Nest Lake State Park, Colfax Co from 17–23 Sep. Photo © Owen Hilchey.

This Pomarine Jaeger allowed for remarkably close approach and excellent photos from a watercraft on Ute Lake, Quay Co on 24 Sep. Photo © D. Johnson.

This Sedge Wren at the Santa Rosa Golf Course, Guadalupe Co was one of two found in the state this fall for this review species. Photo taken on 08 Oct. Photo © Jack Parlapiano.

This Blackburnian Warbler was present at NRT for two days in September, the only confirmed individual of this species for the season in the state and the first at this location since 2018. Photo © Hank Taliaferro.

A Canada Warbler found on the evening of 7 Sep at the UNM Duck Pond, Bernalillo Co was an excellent find and turned out to be a one-day wonder. Photo © Lee Wallace.

At least two Red Knots were present and seen by several birders at Elephant Butte Lake, Sierra Co. This photograph was taken on 1 Sep 2021. Photo © Wyatt Egelhoff.

This brightly colored Philadelphia Vireo was present for multiple days at NRT in late Sept. This photograph is from 26 Sep. 2021. Photo © T. Jay Adams.

A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher found at Bosque Redondo Park in Fort Sumner, De Baca Co on 26 Sep 2021 was a first county record. Photo © Jessie Williamson.

Significant anywhere in the state, this Tropical Kingbird was a particularly remarkable and unusual record, given that it was much farther north than prior state records and present for a few weeks despite the seemingly less than ideal habitat at Clines Corners Travel Center in Torrance Co. Photo © Owen Hilchey.