We have just concluded this year’s Birdathon, and we had a record number of 7 teams participating this year. These teams included Audubon New Mexico (ANM) staff and members, as well as local chapter members—all birding for conservation throughout the state.
The teams, made up of individuals from all over New Mexico, ventured as far south as Carlsbad and trekked as far north as Española. In total, the teams observed 215 species in 7 counties (Santa Fe, Socorro, Grant, Luna, Doña Ana, Chaves, and Eddy). This year’s Birdathon brought out a record number of participants, 39 in total. We also set the record for most species ever recorded during an Audubon New Mexico Birdathon at 215 species observed!
Some notable species included the rarely seen Olive Warbler spotted by the ANM All-Stars on their trek up Water Canyon, and the eye-catching Painted Bunting sighted by the Central New Mexico Audubon Society (CNMAS) Thursday Birders.The wing whirring Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were enjoying the feeders at the Randall Davey Audubon Center, as noted by Bi-pedal. While the Black Caps eagle eyes were put to the test identifying a Louisiana from a Northern Waterthrush (both great birds to see in New Mexico), and they among the other teams identified all the tanagers and warblers we would expect to see in New Mexico.
Shorebird and waterfowl species were hard to find. Many were only seen by one team such as Green-winged Teal (ANM All Stars), Long-billed Curlew (CNMAS Thursday Birders), and Baird’s Sandpiper (NM Century Club). Team Megan and John were fortunate enough to view the silent flight of a Mexican Spotted Owl at dusk (see below for the full account), while the not-so-quiet Cactus Wren was seen solely by the NM Century Club.
NM Century Club had a number of other unique sightings including Harris’s Hawk, Black-chinned Sparrow and Gray Vireo. In addition, the Buffs were the only team to observe the speedy Peregrine Falcon soaring above, as well as Flamulated Owl and Gila Woodpecker. Of course, nearly every team, in nearly every county, saw the Gambel’s Quail; however, its cousin the Scaled Quail, was only spotted by the CNMAS Thursday Birders.
Other trip highlights included a fly-by American Bittern, a swimming Sora, and a displaying Bronzed Cowbird, as documented by the CNMAS Thursday Birders. ANM’s new Executive Director was treated to a number of lifer’s including: Band-tailed Pigeon, Red-faced Warbler, and Olive Warbler (welcome to New Mexico, Jon). And another ANM staffer, Scot Pipkin, conducted his entire Birdathon by bike in the Santa Fe area and was able to get a number of Southern Rocky Mountain species unseen by any other group including Black-capped Chickadee and Black-billed Magpie. For a complete list of species seen by all the teams, please click here.
Working together, the teams so far have brought in a total of $4,997.00 in donations. They would greatly appreciate more donations for local conservation and education programs in addition to raising awareness about the health of different habitats and how they directly impact bird populations in New Mexico.
And the Birdathon Awards go to:
- Most Species Observed: ANM All Stars (153)
- Most Unexpected Species: The Black Caps - Louisiana/Northern Waterthrush
- Most Eye-popping Observation: Thursday Birders - Painted Bunting
- Most Unique Route: NM Century Club
- Best Travelogue: Team Meghan and John - “Team Megan and John had a great Birdathon day, counting 116 species total. We stayed in Grant County and hit a handful of favorite birding spots. Camped at Gila Bird Area and woke in the middle of the night to a pair of Western Screech Owls. Species #1! Highlight of the day was how it ended. We parked on the side of the road, turned off the engine and sat in silence waiting for darkness to fall in hopes of a few nocturnal targets. A couple diesel engines roared by and after all was quiet again, a Mexican Spotted Owl silently swooped across the road to perch on a snag in the half-light, watching the ground for prey. Another 2 minutes later, it was out of sight as quickly as it appeared. All while the White-throated Swifts were still chattering high along the cliffs and two Dusky-capped Flycatchers were winding down their mournful whistling for the day. One lone Hermit Thrush was still sending its flute-like notes out into the hills, and soon a few Mexican whip-poor-wills started up for the night.”
- Lowest Carbon Footprint: Bi Pedal - 45 miles on bicycle!
- Nightowl Award (most nocturnal species heard or seen): The Buffs - Flamulated Owl, Great Horned Owl, Mexican Spotted Owl and Mexican Whip-poor-will
A deep bow of gratitude goes out to all of our teams for participating this year and for helping raise awareness and funds for conservation causes that are so important in our state.
On behalf of Audubon New Mexico and our Birdathon teams, we’re grateful for your support and our network of Audubon members, partners and advocates who work alongside our staff and volunteers to conserve and protect the health of New Mexico’s rich biodiversity.
Thank you for your support!