This team will focus on drive-up birding locations within the town of Los Alamos, with a few short hikes on mostly paved trails. Don’t let that description fool you, however–this team visits a variety of interesting habitats and there are great birds to be found at the spots this team will go! The interactive map below shows the region outline in red, then the recommended birding spots and trails in blue.
If the Nature Center is open, spend a bit of time at the wildlife viewing room watching the feeders. Otherwise, walk around the back of the building and look at the feeders through the coyote fence blind. Next, take a stroll around the ponderosa pines on the property. Be sure to look into the ravines at the northeast and southwest edges of the property.
Fuller Lodge and Ashley Pond
Park at Fuller Lodge and follow 20th st. north along Bathtub Row until you get to Nectar St. Turn right, go half a block, and find the paved trail on your right that heads down the back of Bathtub Row towards Fuller Lodge. Once you get back to Central Ave., cross the street and do a lap around Ashley Pond, then return to the car. Note that there are 11 domestic ducks and one domestic goose on the pond that can be counted as such, but don’t confuse any of them with wild mallards, etc.
6th Street Pond and Nearby Trails
Drive east on Trinity, turn right onto DP Road, then turn immediately right onto 6th St. and park in the parking lot at the Merrick building. Walk about 100’ further down 6th steed to the pond behind Smith’s, on the right. Check out the trees on the canyon rim just south of the pond. You should see a segment of the paved Canyon Rim Trail running along the south side of the pond. Follow this trail east (away from Smith’s) as it curves north and crosses DP Rd., then turns east again and heads into the small canyon between DP Rd. and 501. This canyon is surprisingly good for birding. Follow the paved trail as far as the large bridge over the canyon (0.3 miles) and spend some time birding the canyon from the bridge. If the group feels like more hiking, continue following the Canyon Rim Trail as far as you want; return the way you came. From the pond, consider following the canyon rim to the east on a flat dirt trail (which begins as a dirt road) to find some nice young ponderosa habitat, some small open grassland habitat, a bit of pinyon-juniper woodland, and additional views into the canyon. This trail is 0.5 miles to the end of the mesa finger; return the way you came.
Canyon Rim Trail
Drive out to the Canyon Rim Trailhead past the airport, near the Co-op. As you drive past the airport, keep an eye out for interesting birds on the fence. The parking lot for the trailhead is on the right just before the Co-op building on the left. Follow the paved trail for a bit; listen for birds down in the canyon to the south. The trail will take you all the way to Smith’s if follow it to its end (2.25 miles one-way), but the habitat is essentially constant for the first 1.5 miles and if you’ve already been to the area around the 6th St. Pond you’ve already seen the far end of the trail, so only doing just a bit of it from this end is fine.
East Park & Los Alamos Mesa Trail
Park at the East Park parking lot, then take a stroll around the boundary of the park. Find the paved Los Alamos Mesa Trail at the northwest corner of the park and follow it east as it cuts behind the development between East Park and the airport. Several of these houses have good feeders. This trail is 0.4 miles long if you choose to go all the way to the far end; return the way you came.
Walk some combination of the perimeter sidewalk and the inner paved loop trail through Urban Park, checking the large deciduous trees and the shrubs along the norther edge of the park for birds. There is a house across North Rd. from the northwest corner of Urban Park that has feeders out that attract a lot of birds.
Feeder Watch @ 4100 Arizona Ave.
From Urban Park, continue on North Rd. Take a left on Yucca, then an immediate right on 45th St., the and right onto Arizona. 4100 is the second house on the left, up on a hill with a large beige water tank behind it. If permission has been granted in advance (ask your team leader), proceed to the house and watch the backyard birds from the belvedere.
Guaje Pines Cemetery
Walk the loop road through the cemetery.
North Mesa Picnic Area
Park near the large white water tower just off of North Mesa Rd., and walk the picnic area loop road.
Stables and Rodeo Grounds
Drive or walk the roads through the stable grounds, and the loop around the rodeo grounds and dressage area. Be on the lookout for sparrows and blackbirds taking advantage of spilled livestock feed. There is a short paved loop trail in the grassland just south of the eastern stables that is worth walking to find grassland species. If you’re feeling like more hiking, consider heading east out Kwage Mesa Trail for a ways.
End of San Ildefonso Road
Follow San Ildefonso Rd. east all the way to the very end of North Mesa. There is a cul-de-sac here where you can park. One of the houses here has been pouring feed over the cliff for years and it has become a real hot spot for corvids and blackbirds. They generally move around in roving hordes, so either the trees here will be filled with large quantities of Red-winged Blackbirds, Ravens, Crows, etc. or it will be quiet.