Ladder Ranch spans six major habitats and encompasses about 250,000 acres. WingsWest offers year-round tours to the ranch. Winter temperatures are mild and a wide variety of species find the ranch to their liking. Phainopepla, Pyrrhuloxia, Red-naped Sapsucker, Bridled Titmouse, Black Phoebe, Eastern and Western Bluebirds all frequent the lush riparian habitat along Animas Creek. In the nearby desert grasslands, we find numbers of Brewer’s and Sage Sparrows with an occasional Grasshopper Sparrow as well. Chestnut-collared Longspurs roam the skies above. In the high pinyon/juniper canyons we expect to find Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, and Sage Thrasher.
Breeding season plays out in two waves. The permanent resident desert dwellers such as Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Crissal and Curve-billed Thrashers are on territory by late March. The neotropic migrants, such as Bell’s Vireo, Elf Owl, Hooded Oriole, Painted Redstart, and Brown-crested Flycatcher arrive in late April or early May and are raising young long after the desert species fledglings have left the nest. Other May-July visitors of note include Common Blackhawk, Zone-tailed Hawk and Dusky-capped Flycatcher. The ranch is 3 1/2 hours southwest of Santa Fe.
WIND RIVER RANCH
Ruby Ranch is located just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Ruby Ranch is a mix of lake, grassland, and deciduous riparian habitats all on 20,000 acres. We have birded the property for many years and the ranch list is now over 200 species. Our trips run from March to early December. The cold weather months feature raptors, including Prairie Falcon, Bald Eagle, Ferruginous and Rough-legged Hawks along with a myriad of waterfowl. From May through August there is an impressive mix of breeders including Lazuli Bunting, Lewis’ Woodpecker, Gray Catbird, Lesser Goldfinch, Long-billed Curlew, Vesper Sparrow and Avocet. The spring and fall songbird and shorebird migrations take full advantage of the varied food and cover of the ranch. Franklin’s Gull, White Pelican and Baird’s Sandpiper all refuel at the ranch while mountain species such as Green-tailed Towhee, Red-naped Sapsucker, Virginia’s and MacGillivray’s Warblers, and Western Tanager use Sapello Creek as a migration corridor to reach the breeding grounds. The ranch is one hour east of Santa Fe.