Birdwatching opportunities abound in Rio Rancho thanks to its location in the Rio Grande Valley. The city and surrounding river woodlands provide unique habitats for birds not found in other parts of the country. While common birds like house finches and several species of doves are found here, birders are likely more excited to see New Mexico’s state bird, the greater roadrunner, or seasonal visitors like various hummingbirds, orioles, bluebirds, and even migrating sandhill cranes.
In Rio Rancho, three popular trails provide breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, rolling hills, desert highlands, stunning wildflowers, and local wildlife. Numerous city parks also provide easy birding that can be followed by a barbecue or picnic. Areas along the Rio Grande, however, provide the opportunity to see the widest variety of birds. Bosque, or woodland, areas along the river provide food and shelter for waterfowl, wading birds, insectivores, and seed-eating birds.
RIO RANCHO TRAILS FOR BIRDWATCHING
Willow Creek Bosque North Loop Trail
Part of the Rio Rancho Bosque Nature Preserve, this easy, 1.8-mile route takes about 30 minutes to complete — of course, if you’re birding plan on a slower pace. The Willow Creek Bosque Open Space has 186 species of birds recorded on eBird, including beautiful wood ducks, Gambel’s quail, black-chinned hummingbirds, and a variety of woodpeckers, warblers, and swallows. If you’re hoping to see a summer tanager, you might find it here. The trailhead is in a residential area and the well-maintained gravel/dirt trail offers some shade from cottonwood trees, plus views of the river and mountains. Take Willow Creek Road east to Red Mountain Road, east on Sandia Loop, and follow the bend to the parking area.
Rio Rancho Bosque South Trail
Another easy 5-mile loop trail is near Bernalillo. Behind a developed housing area, it meanders along the river where mature cottonwood trees offer some shade on this dirt/sand trail. Take Riverside Drive east to Black River Drive, south to Black River Court, east to the Rio Rancho Bosque Preserve South parking lot.
Rio Rancho Bosque to Corrales Bosque Connector Trail
A short .7-mile loop trail near Rio Rancho joins the much longer 12.4 mi Corrales Bosque Loop Trail. Birders have recorded more than 230 species of birds in the northernmost part of the Corrales Bosque, from doves and hummingbirds to chickadees, kingbirds, and flycatchers. The river attracts ducks, geese, herons, egrets, cormorants, and coots. There are multiple locations along the bosque that will delight birders. Take Riverside Drive east to Black River Drive, south to Black River Court, east to Rio Rancho Bosque Preserve Parking Lot South to access the connector trail.
RIO RANCHO PARKS FOR BIRDWATCHING
Parks are always a great place for easy birding since they usually have trees and bushes that provide shelter for birds and a place for you to picnic when you’re done. Here are some birding hotspots in Rio Rancho, as reported on eBird, where you can try your luck in adding to your life list.
King Meadows Park
At this 10-acre park at 3601 King Blvd. NE, more than 30 species have been reported, including cowbirds, hummingbirds, western and Cassin’s kingbirds, Bullock’s orioles, Gambel’s quail, pine siskins, and curve-billed thrashers.
Mountain View Park
Mountain View Park is a large, 20-acre park at 6441 Grayson Hills Dr. NE, that has attracted 50 recorded species of birds, from lovely mountain bluebirds to the ubiquitous rock pigeon. American crows and common ravens may be hanging out looking for a snack to pilfer from your picnic or you may spot lark sparrows, barn swallows, robins, Gambel’s quail, or black-chinned hummingbirds.
Birders have reported 70 species at the almost 15-acre Rainbow Park located at 301 Southern Blvd. SE. Some of the more interesting sightings include cordilleran flycatchers, blue grosbeaks, bushtits, chipping sparrows, lark sparrows, bank swallows, and bronzed cowbirds. If you need to get a white-winged dove for your list, you’re likely to find some here, too.These are just a few of the locations that birders may want to explore when visiting Rio Rancho. For great places to bird in Albuquerque, read this. As birders know, there’s a bird to be spotted no matter where you are!