Rosyfinch Ramblings
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April 2008
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Rosy-Finch Epilogue
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, NM & SW US, Sandia Crest, Illinois
Posted by: Ken @ 12:23 pm

The rosy-finch flocks have departed.Update on the Rosy-Finches of Sandia Crest, New Mexico.  The flag has stopped waving. Although individuals or a few finches have been seen since April 4th, there have been no appreciable flocks. One Black Rosy-Finch was coming in for seed on April 8.  Feeders and sighting logs were removed April 9th. Report any late sightings directly by e-mail to Ken.

Rosy-Finch Epilogue

A final note today from Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver, Coordinators of the Central NM Audubon-US Forest Service Rosy Finch Project at Sandia Crest House, who have contributed so much to the success of the program:

Hi Ken,

Well, we are just back from the Crest and have taken down the feeders and the log.  It was damp and cold but most of the snow has melting significantly since last week.  Colorado is expecting 10-20″ of snow but we might be getting some rain. 

Tony, at the Crest House, saw one lonely GC yesterday but the sightings have been just one or 2 since Saturday.  The last recorded sighting of a flock was on Friday 4/4/08.
We’ve left a note by the window asking anyone who does sight any rosy finch to email the sighting directly to
So that’s the season for 2007-2008!
We will resume going up to the Crest to staff the Visitor Center each Wednesday about Memorial Day.

Happy birding!
Fran & Dave

All good things must come to an end, but happily, the seasons do cycle and the rosy-finches will be back in only 6 1/2 months. Allowing time for migration, they spend about as much time at Sandia Crest as on their breeding grounds.  This has been a most impressive rosy-finch season at Sandia Crest. It has been a wonderful year for the skiers, and the snowcap promises more than adequate recharging of the Sandia aquifier.

The springs will run fresh and quick in the small canyon where the Northern Goshawk will soon be nesting, and water will overflow at the Capulin Spring “Bird Log.”  It has not been a great year for Cassin’s Finches, Red Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks or Clark’s Nutcrackers, but they invade so unpredictably that this should not get us down. There is always “next year.” Surprisingly, this winter I received NO reports of Northern Pygmy-Owl sightings along the Crest Road, despite their predictable presence at Capulin Spiring and the Sandia Peak ski lift base in past years.
As surely as the excitement of the Crest House extravaganza diminishes, birding in the East Mountains will start warming up. The Violet-green Swallows and White-throated Swifts should now be cruising the mountain heights, and Scott’s Oriole is already looking for a nesting site in Tres Pistolas. The American Three-toed Woodpeckers are daring us to find them as they peel away the bark just to the south of Sandia Crest House. The hummingbird feeders will be out (daytime only, to the consternation of the Black Bears) on the deck.

The nice thing for birders about the Sandias is that there is never a “down time.” While not as spectacular as Southeastern Arizona, our birding is nonetheless exciting.There are enough varied habitats in the Albuquerque area to keep a birder busy for at least a week just to visit them all, in any season. 

Migration Update

Spring Warblers are being reported in good numbers in South Florida, the Keys and on the Dry Tortugas. You folks up north, get ready! We plan to join you by the end of the month, and bird Nelson Lake (formally, Dick Young Forest Preserve, in Kane County) our very accessible Illinois “patch.” The White Pelicans will probably have departed, as have the numerous Redpolls, Northern Shrikes and Snow Buntings. Some winter we just must brave the cold and tick off a few birds that, so far, we have only seen in Manitoba.

Kane County (IL) “Scope Day,” last November, at Dick Young Forest Preserve/Nelson Lake Marsh, our last visit there before winter set in.

Yesterday the first Least Tern appeared on our small lake. Soon they will be courting on their special “lek,” which happily, is our next door neighbor’s roof! Maybe I will be able to photograph their courtship ritual. The male will catch a small minnow while the female sits watching from the roof. He will bring it to her and impress her with his prowess. Eventually, she will submit, and he will feed her as if she were a helpless nestling. 

Our Red-breasted Mergansers (entire series of posts with photos and observations here) abandoned us last week, so we were happy to see the terns today. Let’s admit it– we are bird watchers. We enjoy their activities, interactions and the rhythm of their life cycles. Yes, we will go out of our way to see a rarity, and rejoice when we succeed, but we recognize our limitations (and the price of gas, not to mention our dislike for traffic and gridlock) and extract every bit of enjoyment possible out of the common and (to some) the mundane inhabitants of the bird world.

Northeasterly winds and heavy rains the past couple of days have kept down the migratory exodus from Cuba, but yesterday, “against the winds,” BADBIRDZ caught radar images of flocks squeaking up the western coast of South Florida the previous night, just ahead of some imposing storms that were attacking from the southwest. The good thing about these conditions is that they may cause northbound birds to pile up and then burst forth across the Florida Straits, and soon enough, into the woods and fields and  backyards of everyone along the major eastern flyways. So, keep tuned to BADBIRDZ to see if migration picks up.

This morning, just after 7:00 AM EDT,  the Miami radar showed another “donut” of (presumably wading) birds expanding/radiating outward from the same area of the Everglades as I noted previously. This time I was unable to save the image and do not know how to retrieve it from the National Weather Service archives. The archives at UCAR did produce a corresponding loop, but the display was cluttered and the “donut” was barely visible. (Note: the UCAR link becomes inactive after about 6 days).  

May through October,


in the Sandia
Mountains, sponsored by the

U.S. Forest Service and Central New Mexico

Birders meet at 8:00 a.m. (8:30 in May and October)

at the
Sandia Ranger Station, 1176 Highway 337, in Tijeras.

Thursday Birder
and Central NM Audubon Field Trips

Sandia Crest House Sighting Logs (199 - 2008) Table and Spreadsheet of all Banding Results
CORRESPONDENCE: Narrative Banding
and Sighting Reports

ID Tips: the Four Rosy-Finch Races at Sandia Crest

Check Weather, Webcams and Road Conditions Rosy-finch and Nature Center Banding Schedule


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