Travel the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway through southwestern New Mexico. Mountains jut into the sky, clusters of trees scatter the landscape, and wide valleys spread out across the colorful earth below. Thousands of birds live here, and this vibrant region is also home to the state's first designated birding trail, the Southwest New Mexico State Birding Trail, open year-round for world-class birding. The trail encompasses several places along and near the byway, including Cherry Creek, Lake Roberts, the Mimbres River Valley, and more. So bring your hiking shoes, because several paths will lead you to a few of the hottest birding spots in New Mexico.
Spend some time spotting birds near water at Cherry Creek and Lake Roberts. Walk along the creek and see Flammulated Owls, Hepatic Tanagers, and Painted Redstarts. At Lake Roberts you'll see Bald Eagles, Townsend's Solitaires, and several hummingbird species. Listen closely for the fast flitter of hummingbird wings; many hummingbirds feed on the wildflowers from July through September.
Seek shade not only for cooling down, but for seeing birds. "Bosques" (Spanish for cottonwood groves) scattered along the Mimbres River protect several bird species. In the fall, the bright gold foliage only adds to the beautiful setting. North of Fort Bayard, you'll find the Cameron Creek birding area among large junipers, including "The Big Tree," the second largest alligator juniper in the United States. Be sure to visit the Gila River Bird Habitat Area and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument as well. The habitat area, near Silver City, houses Gambel’s Quail, Hooded Orioles, Lucy's Warblers, Brown-crested Flycatchers, and Common Blackhawks. At the monument, you'll see Warbling Vireos, Painted Redstarts, Lazuli Buntings, and Piñon Jays.
Brace yourself for birding adventures on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway and the Southwest New Mexico State Birding Trail. Lakes, creeks, valleys, and other landscapes provide a home for hundreds of bird species, giving you plenty of chances to see some avian wonders.
- Copyright © May 30, 2004 Robert Shantz.
- Public domain. Photo by Joe Burgess
- Copyright © August 2006 Jean-Guy Dallaire.
- Copyright © May 26,2006 Zimmerman.