Despite ongoing grassland fires in the county, we were able to bird several habitats in late June. Three different locales had produced fledgling Common Blackhawks, an exciting bird for east central New Mexico. Another raptor at the edge of its range was a Zone-tailed Hawk cruising over Devil’s Canyon. With the help of several national forest wildlife biologists, we were able to access a closed portion of the national forest to observe a N. Goshawk nest with one attending adult and two almost fledged young. A mesmerizing sight indeed.
Lower down in the county near San Patricio we found numerous Phainopeplas, several Black-chinned Sparrows, and a surprising singing Red-eyed Vireo-most unusual for late June in this location. Multiple Indigo Buntings males were singing along the Rio Hondo. With no evidence of Lazuli Buntings, I’m wondering if the Indigos are pushing them out. Several Summer Tanagers and a lone Yellow-billed Cuckoo rounded out the suite of deciduous riparian birds.