The unfettered horizon of the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge emboldens visitors to forget their troubles, dust off their binoculars, and enjoy a world-class birding excursion amidst the southwestern sunshine of New Mexico’s Historic Route 66. Over 271 species of birds flock to the historic refuge, once an area populated by conquistadors and Spanish settlers. Birds perching on rock corrals built by settlers 400 years ago afford an ideal setting for picturesque bird watching.
Many different species enjoy seasonal stays at the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, making the area a year-round hot spot for abundant birding opportunities. During spring and summer months, walk out to the observation deck of the Fred Quintana Overlook at Crane Lake and catch a glimpse of Northern Pintails, Great Blue Herons, and Mourning Doves basking in the warm sunlight. Drive the 8-mile auto tour as cooler autumn temperatures transform the landscape, and stop for views of Mallards, Greater Roadrunners, and American Kestrels before a backdrop of rippling water and golden grasses. When the winter season casts its brisk shadow over the refuge, majestic Bald and Golden Eagles grace the skies.
No matter the time of year, visitors will encounter captivating birds iconic of Mother Nature’s beauty. For a complete list of birds, outlined according to seasonal habits, go to the U.S. Geological Survey website. When exploring the refuge grounds, remember to be respectful of the delicate natural environment. After all, birds dotted the landscape near Historic Route 66 long before conquistadors and neon signs.
- Copyright © March 2008 Brendan Lally.