Try any one of these eight great places for birdwatching in Albuquerque! Or visit them all. Albuquerque’s location on the Rio Grande River is perfect for seeing a wide variety of birds. It’s a year-round habitat for many birds and a major migratory flyway. Endangered sandhill cranes spend the winter along the river and can be seen close up. Stay with us at the Bottger Mansion of Old Town Bed & Breakfast and find great birdwatching in Albuquerque in any direction.
Here is our top list of great places for birdwatching in Albuquerque!
1. Rio Grande State Park Nature Center
The Rio Grande State Park Nature Center is only three miles from Old Town. Learn about the formation of the Rio Grande River at the visitor center and the birds and animals that live here. View turtles and various ducks in the wetlands on site. In summer, see dozens of hummingbirds zipping around the large feeders in the forest along the river. The Nature Center is a great place to start a hike on the bosque trail that goes for miles along the Rio Grande.
2. Albuquerque Botanic Garden
The Albuquerque Botanic Garden is part of the BioPark, which includes the Botanic Garden, the Aquarium and the Rio Grande Zoo. Even in the winter, you can enjoy wandering through the various areas, including the Japanese Garden, the desert conservatory showcasing many kinds of cactus and native plants, the Butterfly Pavilion, and the Dragonfly Sanctuary Pond. Even if you’re an adult, don’t skip the marvelous Children’s Fantasy Garden.
Of course, wherever there are trees, water and plants, there are LOTS of birds. Keep in mind there are birds that live near the river that won’t be found in the higher foothills in the city.
3. Paseo del Bosque Trail
With 16 miles of paved multi-use path, the bosque trail is used by walkers, runners, bicyclists and even people on horseback. Even in the heat of summer, it’s a wonderful place to wander among huge cottonwood trees several hundred years old. The trail stretches through the entire city from north to south. There are a number of parking lots and access points along the trail. Be sure to visit the wetlands area at Tingley Beach for water fowl.
4. Open Space Visitor Center
Albuquerque has quite a few designated open space areas with trails and picnic areas. The Open Space Visitor Center on Coors Blvd. contains many exhibits on the various open space areas in the city, an art gallery, open fields designated for feeding birds and wildlife, and spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains. When the sandhill cranes spend the winter in the Rio Grande River valley, they fly to the various feeding areas. Many can be seen in fields at the Open Space Visitor Center.
5. Elena Gallegos Open Space
The Elena Gallegos Open Space is one of the many designated open spaces in Albuquerque. It’s a favorite place for people of all abilities to enjoy hiking in the foothills above the city. Enjoy fabulous views of the city, the Rio Grande River, Mount Taylor 50 miles to the west, and the majestic Jemez Mountains to the northwest.
Birds in the foothills are very different from those along the river. You can often cross paths with roadrunners, hawks, bush tits and many other birds, as well as lizards, millipedes and occasional snakes. (More often you will see their trails. They disappear into the brush before you get near.) Look down for other desert wildlife as well as up for birds.
6. Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument is a fantastic place to view hundreds of petroglyphs (ancient Native American rock carvings) along the trails as well as falcons and hawks. The petroglyphs you can see depend on the time of day you visit. Some can be more visible in the shadows rather than in the bright sun. In warmer weather, plan your visit to Petroglyph National Monument early in the day. Be sure to stay on the trail, wear sturdy hiking shoes and drink plenty of water.
7. Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge
Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2012 and is a work in progress. The Visitor Center is now open to explain the history of the area. It’s located on a former dairy farm but was originally land of the ancient Tiwa People.
Plans for future areas within the refuge include a wetlands area, feeding areas for migratory birds, and a pollination garden area. It is currently fairly open with trails through the remnants of agricultural fields. Sandhill cranes spend the day there in the winter at one of the many feeding areas around Albuquerque.
8. Bottger Mansion of Old Town Bed & Breakfast
Of all the birds in Albuquerque, we know those in our yard the best! Our yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. We made our own log feeder for bark butter, which attracts birds that find food in tree bark rather than a bird feeder.
Our yard is home to several varieties of finches, goldfinches, white-wing doves, mourning doves, robins, Eurasian collared doves, Ladderback woodpeckers, and Northern Flickers year-round. Of course, hawks come cruising through on a regular basis. We’ve seen Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks. We’ve also seen the occasional Peregrine falcon.
Black-chinned and broadtail hummingbirds arrive in late April and stay until late September. Western flycatchers also arrive in April to raise their young and teach them how to fly and hunt for food. For several winters we hosted a mated pair of white-breasted nuthatches.
Other great nearby places for birdwatching
Be sure to check out the best bird watching trails in Albuquerque with alltrails.com. If you’re really into bird watching, you will want to visit some of the other notable places not far from Albuquerque.
The Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Santa Fe is only an hour away, located in the foothills above the city. While you’re in Santa Fe, visit the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. It’s come a long way in just a few years of its multi-phase plan.
And, of course, every avid birder has heard of–and plans to visit!–the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. People travel from all over the country and the world especially in winter to see millions of birds of many kinds, including our beloved sandhill cranes.
take a guided tour for the best birdwatching in Albuquerque
For the best birdwatching in Albuquerque, take a tour with a pro. Bill from WingsWest Birding will take you on a personal guided tour of the best places for bird watching in Albuquerque and the surrounding area. He’ll take you to some of our favorite places, as well as others known to avid birders. Let him know what western birds on your list you’re looking for. Most likely he can help you spot them.
where to stay when birdwatching in Albuquerque
Stay at the Bottger Mansion of Old Town Bed & Breakfast, of course! We are centrally located in Old Town Albuquerque. There is fantastic birdwatching in Albuquerque in any direction. You can even just sit in our yard and enjoy the birds that make it their home. Indulge in house-made cookies upon arrival and the best breakfast in town. Welcome to our 1912 historic home! Check availability for your trip to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.