We have some fantastic locations for bird-watching in our collective back yard, and some great tools to plan a visit! One of my favorite places to go is the Rio Rancho Bosque. There are also lots of websites and apps that help one find excellent birding information. My favorites are from the Cornell Ornithology Lab.
The Lab has a wonderful app for both android and iPhone that allows one to identify birds with either a photo or birdsong. I reference this app almost daily as I’m out and about photographing birds. The Lab has also published a migration tracking website that estimates the numbers of birds that move through particular counties overnight. In Sandoval County in the wee hours of Sunday, August 28th, they estimate more than two million birds passed through! Check out their website at https://dashboard.birdcast.info/region/US-NM-043! I also follow a page on Facebook called “Birding New Mexico”. Birders across the state will post sightings of birds, and posts from the Bosque are quite common.
I will often check The Lab’s app and/or Birding New Mexico before heading over to the Bosque. I can see what species are being seen most commonly, so I can keep my eyes open for them. I did just that before heading to the Bosque recently. There are always Cooper’s Hawks there, but it’s nice to know that I might see one in a particular area of the Bosque. And on that day, I found not only the hawk, but also a Broad-Tailed Hummingbird. I was interested to see them sitting so peacefully together!
The Cooper’s Hawk, while common to our area, is always exciting to see. These raptors are fascinating to watch. They glide through the air nearly silently, usually while pursuing prey. They feed on birds and small mammals, and sometimes reptiles or insects, which explains their nearly constant presence in the Bosque.
Another good explanation for their presence in the Bosque in their nesting habits. They nest in trees twenty-five to fifty feet above forest floors, usually near a water source. In the winter, though, they may nest in more open areas. They stabilize their nests by establishing them on top of other, existing structures, such as other nests or mistletoe. Males will feed females while they await the female’s eggs, and again while the female is incubating their eggs. They take turns incubating so the female can feed. The male will also bring food for the female to feed their young after they hatch, which usually happens after about a month.
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