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Where the Wild Things Are


Here’s where I found myself a couple of days ago.  It’s a nondescript little place, right on the side of U.S. 550 just before the village of San Ysidro in north-central New Mexico, known as the Perea Nature Trail, or the San Ysidro Marsh. With the drought we’ve had the last few years and water diversions upstream, it’s not much of a marsh any longer. For the past 15 years, we at Hawks Aloft have monitored this site for the Bureau of Land Management as it was once one of their riparian restoration sites and may soon be again. I arrive before the sun crests over the Jemez Mountains.

Willow Flycatcher

However dry the marsh may be, it still hosts a number of birds, including this Willow Flycatcher. We have had consistent sightings of this flycatcher during the early season throughout the years.

Yellow Breasted Chat

The most numerous and noisy resident is the Yellow-breasted Chat. They are everywhere! Watching their song and display flight with the breast and belly pushed out is always a treat. It seems as if it would not be possible to fly like that.

Black chinned Hummer

Another very common bird is the Black-chinned Hummingbird. They love the Russian olive thickets that make such good bird habitat.

Blue Grosbeak

Not to be outdone is the Blue Grosbeak who sings his bubbly song from atop at high perch on a juniper or Russian olive.

Gray Catbird

Recently, we have noted a considerable increase in Gray Catbird. For many years, seeing or hearing one of these secretive birds would have been unusual but, now they are present in good numbers. But, because they tend to remain low in the vegetation, they can be very hard to see. If you hear a cat mewing in the thicket, it is probably one of these guys.

Lazuli Bunting

One of the most difficult birds to find regularly in New Mexico is the Lazuli Bunting.  This little fellow sings with exuberance, but sits pretty darn still while he’s singing.


Lastly, coyotes call this place home too. I took this image on July 3, 2012 when I came upon a coyote sniffing something. I stood very still and was able to snap off a few images. It seemed that he/she was as interested in me as I was in him. Once I began moving forward, he ran off, but soon returned with his friends. While standing at the designated point, I was treated to a coyote chorus from the pack that now surrounded me.

Thanks to David Powell and Doug Brown for the use of some of the bird images above.

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