Southwest New Mexico has a reputation for being a birders’ paradise! The lush riparian river valleys, scenic mountains and canyons, proximity to Mexico and the surrounding lands of the Gila National Forest attract over 300 species.
“Just an hour drive from Silver City, the Gila River Bird Habitat, a special management unit of the Gila National Forest, offers great birding with easy access and easy walking among river willows and cottonwoods along the Gila River. This is a very special place where spring migrations and the combination of riparian habitat and desert foothills bring a great variety of birds together. Common Black-hawks patrol the Gila River or perch high in treetops. Yellow Warblers, Cardinals, and Vermillion Flycatchers draw your eye like magnets. Towhees and thrashers rustle in the thickets, and Black Phoebes and Phainopeplas have their favorite, conspicuous perches. Look for warblers including Lucy’s and Olive. There are so many species here that you can spend many happy birding days in the cool shade of the cottonwoods.
A half hour drive north of Silver City, in the Gila National Forest, the fluting melody of the Hermit Thrush mingles with distinctive calls of Painted Redstarts and Red-faced Warblers. The mix of oak and pine are a favorite place for Acorn Woodpeckers and the Bridled Titmouse. The lucky birder may find a Montezuma Quail. You’ll also find Hepatic, Summer, and Western Tanagers.
Spring migrations begin in late April but birding can be rewarding all through the year. Over 339 species have been seen in Grant County. You’ll find intriguing desert canyons, cool riparian habitat, Pinon/Juniper woodlands, and Ponderosa and Spruce/Fir forests. We invite you come see our special birds.
The “Birds of the Gila National Forest Check List” and maps are available at the Silver City Visitor Center, the Gila National Forest Supervisors office, district ranger stations, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.”
[By Jackie Blurton, Silver City KOA]