The forecast looked bad for this morning: wind and more wind. On windy days in Albuquerque, the early morning is usually not too bad and the winds pick towards 11 or 12. Not this morning. The wind was already gusting to 15 or 20 mph when I arrived at 7:40 AM. I was leading the group this morning, filling in for Judy, and I would have stayed in bed this morning otherwise!
Nevertheless, 17 birders showed up this morning including two who had just come from Hawaii and were not ready for windy, cold weather; they bowed out early. A Cooper’s Hawk with a bloody mess in its talons and a full crop briefly perched on a rock by the parking lot as we assembled. I first took the group to the north side of the broad canyon to look for Cactus Wrens. These large wrens began nesting here last year and have been a highlight of birding in the city. The winds kept all the birds low and hidden, but after half an hour or so working the likely area, I spotted one far off (of course). We went down the wash in the middle of the canyon to get closer but (of course) the wren had moved closer to our original spot. Most people got to see it this time and it even sang a few times. I showed the group two unused wren nests as well.
Other than brief glimpses of Chipping Sparrows, House Finches, and doves flying by, birds were hard to find. A migrating Osprey flew north during the middle of the walk, far away from appropriate habitat. At the end of the walk, our mornings were brightened by a gorgeous male Scott’s Oriole playing peek-a-boo in a juniper. We moved closer to the bush to get a better look, but he somehow escaped out the back unnoticed. Tricky birds. This oriole is a new early record on eBird by about a week and still fairly early based on the NMOS database.
We found 13 species in about an hour and a half before we decided to pack it in.