Winter New Mexico: Jan 08—14, 2019

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Price: $1,995
Departs: El Paso
Ends: Albuquerque
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (11.2 MB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Barry Zimmer

Barry Zimmer has been birding since the age of eight. His main areas of expertise lie in Nor...

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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Snow & Ross's Geese, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Snow & Ross’s Geese, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge— Photo: Barry Zimmer

Experience the spectacle of huge numbers of wintering waterfowl and cranes at world-famous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Raptors, sparrows, and southwestern specialties will also be plentiful.

The Rio Grande Valley of central and southern New Mexico plays host to an incredible array of wintering bird species each year. Tens of thousands of geese, ducks, and cranes descend on famous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and Caballo and Elephant Butte Reservoirs. An impressive list of sparrows occurs, some years in staggering numbers that cover the deserts and grasslands. Raptors abound, drawn by the abundant prey, with a combined total of 17 hawk and owl species possible. In addition, many southwestern specialties are resident and easily located at this time of year.

Expected species include Clark’s and Western grebes; over 20 species of waterfowl; Ferruginous Hawk; Golden Eagle; Prairie Falcon; Gambel’s Quail; Burrowing Owl; Red-naped Sapsucker; Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay; Bridled and Juniper titmice; all three bluebirds; Townsend’s Solitaire; Sage and Crissal thrashers; Green-tailed, Spotted, and Canyon towhees; Rufous-crowned, Black-chinned, Black-throated, Sagebrush, and Brewer’s sparrows; Yellow-headed Blackbird (a roost of more than 10,000 in El Paso); and all three species of rosy-finches.

VIDEO: Snow and Ross’s Geese, Bosque del Apache NWR, January 2015, by Barry Zimmer

The highlight of the tour will be a visit to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. In mid-winter, Snow Geese numbers may reach 30,000 and Sandhill Cranes about 5—12,000 at this wonderful refuge. The tiny Ross’s Goose winters in good numbers here as well. Prairie Falcons, and Bald and Golden eagles, patrol the huge waterfowl flocks, often sending thousands of birds into the air at once—a sight that will be forever etched in your memory.

With the abundance of wintering species, a good variety of resident southwestern specialties, great potential for rarities, and generally pleasant weather conditions, this short winter tour is a must.

Good accommodations; easy to moderate terrain; one uphill hike, otherwise mostly roadside birding; generally mild winter conditions with potentially cold mornings.