More Feedback from
visitors to the Rosy-Finch feeders at Sandia Crest
= = = = = =
Date: March26, 2008
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
Just back from the Crest - road is clear but there is still snow on the
ground in the forest and up at the Crest. Birders up there when
we arrived said they had seen a flock of about 50. We urged them
to make a log entry before they headed down - I think they
will. There are still sightings of a large flock (~150) so
the birds are still around.
Weather is warming significantly out here - 70's in town today and expected throughout the week.. Hope all is well there!
Fran & Dave
= = = = = =
From BIRDWG05 Digest - 24 Mar 2008 to 25 Mar 2008 (#2008-86)
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 16:08:21 -0500
From: Devin Eby-Bosler
Subject: NM: All three rosy-finches continue at Sandia Crest, Bernalillo Co. - 23 Mar 2008
For those interested, all three rosy-finches continue to frequent
the feeders at the Crest House on Sandia Crest (Bernalillo Co.).
As of Sunday (23 Mar), a fairly large mixed-species flock of ~120
rosy-finches made a few visits to the feeding station throughout the
morning. The flock was comprised of ~60 Brown-cappeds, ~45
Gray-crowneds (including at least 6 Hepburn’s), and ~15
Blacks. The adult males are especially striking at this time
having acquired their brilliant breeding plumage. The rosy-finch
banding crew, headed by Steve and Nancy Cox, was there wrapping up the
fifth winter season of banding. The team was busily trapping,
banding, and processing rosy-finches throughout the morning.
It’s fascinating to see these vividly-patterned fringillids
up-close in the hand. Congratulations on yet another successful
year of rosy-finch banding at the crest! Although the rosy-finch
numbers are starting to thin out now, it’s not too late to stop
by and enjoy the show. In past years, they have been reported
through the first week or so of April... Good Birding,
= = = = = =
[On this last day of banding, Nancy
notes that the rosy-finches' bills are turning black, just the opposite
of the European Starlings, whose bills become yellow as breeding season
approaches. Today's same-season recapture rate of 50%, given the
fact that 462 birds were newly banded suggests that there have been
nearly 1,000 birds visiting the feeders. Ken]
Date: March 23, 2008
From: Nancy Cox
We were glad that the pressure was on for us to band today. We
did better than we had on the last two Sundays combined. (except
for no OLD repeats).
I will keep watching your web site to see how long they stay this
year. We saw some really gorgeous Blacks out there today.
We saw a lot of black bills on the birds.
Thanks again for maintaining your wonderful website. We
appreciate it and know that many visitors and potential visitors really
= = = = = =
Date: March 23, 2008
From: Steve & Nancy Cox
We almost did not band today. However, with Steve Fettig's
persistence to get a few more photos we went to the Crest House one
more time. We had to wait for about an hour before a flock of
just over a hundred came into the feeder. We banded another 13
Rosy-Finches today. We caught and banded 2 more Hepburn's (thanks
to Cole), 4 more Gray-crowned Interiors and 7 more Brown-capped.
We did recapture 13 Brown-capped and 2 Blacks but they were all from
That brings us to a season total of 462 Rosy-Finches.
Brown-capped were the most numerous - 295 new birds banded. We
banded a total of 97 Gray-crowned (29 of which were Hepburn's) and 70
Devin and Justin Bosler (from Louisiana) counted at least 115
Rosy-Finches in the flock and that was while we had some in hand.
Gene Romero had promised us a large flock and he was right.
Thanks again to our wonderful banding team. You made it another
successful year and we are looking forward to next year when we have
radio transmitters to place on these gorgeous birds. We will miss
Nancy & Steve
good things must come to an end, at least until next winter. The final
banding session will be on Easter Sunday , beginning at 9:30 AM.
This has been a remarkable season. Greater things are in store
next winter, as there are radio-tracking plans. More about that
Date: March 21, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
I just got a report from Steve Fettig, one of our banding crew.
His friend was up at the Crest House on March 20 and saw all 3 species
of Rosy-Finches. They were present the whole hour that she was up
there even though it was windy. She saw approximately 20 birds -
no large flocks.
We decided that we will see what we can capture. We may shut down
earlier than normal (normal is 2 p.m.) depending on how it goes.
This really will be our last day until next winter.
Nancy & Steve
Date: March 19, 2008
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
Just back from the Crest - 20's and sunny. The road is clear all
the way to the top. Thanks for the info about the snow play area
- we hadn't heard that yet.
Although the banding was sparse this past Sunday, the Crest House staff
saw a flock of about 150 yesterday so we think there are still numbers
of birds up there. We didn't see any this morning but we were
only there a short time.
Last year the last recorded sighting was 3/25 so we expect the leave the feeders up for at least a couple more weeks.
We'll keep you posted. Regards, Fran & Dave
Date: March 16, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
Today was a very windy day here in Albuquerque and up at the Sandia
Crest. We didn't catch our first bird until 11:30 but it was well
worth the wait. It was a Black Rosy-Finch that we originally
banded on January 22, 2006. That brings us to 48 birds we have
recaptured this year that were from previous seasons. We only
caught one more bird before we gave up. It was an unbanded
Brown-capped making 288 Brown-caps banded for this season. Not
bad since our previous high for Brown-capped Rosy-Finches was only 50
in the winter 2004/2005.
It is likely that today will be our last day. We only saw one
flock of about 50 birds. However, we are going to rely on Gene
Romero of the Crest House to let us know what the numbers are like for
the rest of the week. We will make a final decision at that time.
Nancy & Steve
Date: March 15, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
Subj: Why we band rehab birds
We just got a report from the Bird Banding Lab about a Cooper's Hawk
that was one of Shirley Kendall's rehabilitated birds. We banded
it on July 6, 2000, as a hatch year female. The hawk was released
in the Corrales Bosque. It was found (dead, unfortunately) in
Berkeley County, West Virginia, by someone from Winterhaven,
Florida. It was found on March 10, 2008, almost 8 years later.
Nancy & Steve
Date: March 9, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We did a lot of sitting around today. We trapped only 10 birds
even though there were at least one flock of 150 birds seen. They
would come in for just a very brief time and then take off. There
was fresh snow on the deck but the trees were snow free.
We newly banded only 3 birds - 2 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches and 1
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Interior race). The repeats were all
from this season and consisted of 3 Brown-capped, 2 Blacks and 2
Gray-crowned (one of each race).
The road is clear.
[The sixth Brown-capped Rosy-Finch from the winter of 2004-05 has been
recaptured, and 5 Black Rosy-Finches were from the winter before
last.. Nancy related that two of the birds today (one Black and one
Brown-capped) were banded in the winter of 2005/2006, seen again during
the winter of 2006/2007 and again today! So far this year, there have been 47 recaptures from previous winters. Ken]
Date: March 2, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
It was a great day today - cold, windy, snowing, and lots of
Rosy-Finches. We newly banded 18 birds - 16 Brown-capped, 1
Gray-crowned Hepburn's and 1 Gray-crowned Interior. We had lots
of repeats (176) including another 7 that we had originally banded in
previous years. Five were Blacks and 2 were Brown-capped.
All the Blacks were originally banded during the winter of
2005/2006. One of the Brown-capped also was originally banded
that same season but the other one was originally banded December 27,
2004. The breakdown for the repeats was 113 Brown-capped, 30
Blacks, and 33 Gray-crowned (26 Interiors and 7 Hepburn's).
When we left, it was snowing and the road was snowpacked from the Crest down to the ski area.
Volunteers today reported that the upper trails had 14 inches of new
snow on top of 2 feet and some drifts were as deep as 5 feet. The
banders had a busy day today. Nancy said she was kept busy
looking up old band numbers. "We had several birds today that
were from previous seasons but that we had already seen this season...
we had a lot of help from two banders from Ohio today. They were
able to help hold birds for photo documentation...We also had birders
from the Connecticut area and New Jersey Audubon."
Another Brown-capped Rosy-Finch banded during the winter of
2004-05 was recaptured, the second one this winter. Ken]
Date: Februrary 24, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We processed 102 birds today. Most of them were already banded
birds. We only banded 19 new birds (16 Brown-capped, 1
Gray-crowned Hepburn's, 2 Gray-crowned Interiors). We recaptured 18
Blacks (all but 3 from this winter), 50 Brown-capped (all but one from
this winter), and 15 Gray-crowned (all from this winter, 11
Interiors and 4 Hepburn's). The 3 Blacks consisted of 2 that we
first banded in the winter of 2006/2007 and 1 that we originally banded
in the winter of 2005/2006. The Brown-capped
recapture was one we originally banded on 12/5/2004.
The road to the Crest had been closed yesterday. Today the road was
plowed but they were icy in spots. The afternoon drive down was fine
with only a few places where there was still some ice.
Fran and Dave! They bring us some good news. So far, Sandia Crest House
has not changed hands, and Resident Manager Gene Romero is continuing
in his position. Ken]
Date: February 20, 2008
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
We're back from NC and went up to the Crest today. The road is
clear and the Crest lot and walking areas are also pretty clear.
The snow is melting and if we don't get more soon, the rosies may head
out early. There were lots of rosies today - on the feeder and on the
deck along with some of the fattest Abert's squirrels we have ever
seen! Interestingly, there were some all black and some with
white chest and feet and some with gray and black fur with a brown
patch along the spine. Must be hybrids. We're sending
photos to a biologist at WFU that we know who studies squirrels to get
his take on it.
One of the entries listed the number of Rosies seen as a 'butt load' -
we converted that to 'lots'! :-) Also of note, bird-wise,
for the last 2 mornings we have had an unusual visitor to the pinyon
outside our bedroom: a male Williamson's Sapsucker. Although we
haven't been able to get a picture, we have had very clear views of him
several times and the identity is definite....it's a very distinct
bird. All is quiet at the Crest House and Gene indicated today
that he is staying on for now. Best to you and MaryLou.
Fran & Dave
I noted that Gil Bachmann, General Manager of the popular Kandahar
Condominiums in Taos Ski Valley, is also a birder, though quite a busy
one during snow and ski season. He sent me several very nice photos
that capture the thrill of seeing hundreds of rosy-finches crowd into
his feeders. They are posted on my Blog at the "Latest Status Report"
link. Gil extends a kind invitation to any hardy birders that may wish
to view the birds privately, but asks that you call him to give advance
Date: February 20, 2008
From: Gil Bachmann
Hello again, Ken.
...Removing all the snow from the roofs and roadways and all the other
issues relating to taking care of our guests has kept us all very
busy. No complaints, though. Just heard that this year's
snow base is the best in 30 years! The flock of rosy finches
seems to increase almost daily. The flock has increased to at
least 400, maybe up to 500. "Thick as hair on a dog's back" as we
used to say in Missouri, when they descend on the feeders and the
flower boxes full of sunflower seeds, and the deck floor around the
feeders. We have 4 of the flower box feeders and two hanging
feeders. At a given moment, they will all be filled with birds,
with a greater number on the deck floor around the feeders, and another
large number on the roof above the feeders. I am sending
several pictures I've taken, to give an idea of the flurry of activity
here... I will try to keep you informed of any changes in the rosy
finch numbers as the season progresses. And hopefully I will soon
have more time to devote to counting the distribution of the 3 races...
...We also extend the invitation to anyone who cares to observe the
Rosy Finches or take pictures.Individuals are welcome at any
time. If a group were to want to spend several hours and even
bring a lunch, they are welcome also. We would appreciate advance
notice if a group came. While viewing from our office windows is
often very good, the best viewing can be done from the Manager's
condo. There, one can sit just a few inches from the feeding
birds. With advance notice, I would be willing to welcome a group
of up to 12 people in the condo. There would be no charge for
If anyone would wish to stay overnight here at the Kandahar, that can
also be arranged. Our weekends are all booked at this point, but
there are many weekdays where we could accomodate a one or two night
stay. Condos are two bedroom, two bathroom units, that rent for
$350 a night through March 11; $400 a night from March 12 through
March 26; and $200 a night from March 27 through April 2.
Arrangements for these can be made by calling our office at
The finches are a daily pleasure for us here and the Kandahar!
Date: February 17, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We had a good day. As usual the birds came in waves. Today
they were spaced about an hour apart. We would catch twenty at a
time and then we would have to wait for them to come back. We
newly banded 28 birds (22 Brown-capped, 2 Blacks, and 4 Gray-crowned -
all interior race). That brings our season total to 408 birds
(253 Brown-capped, 70 Blacks, and 85 Gray-crowned - 25
Hepburn's). The total for all seasons is 1605 birds (355
Brown-capped, 927 Blacks, and 323 Gray-crowned.)
We had 64 recaptures (46 Brown-capped, 3 Blacks, and 15 Gray-crowned
(12 interiors and 3 Hepburn's). Of these recaptures, we had 3
that were from the 2006/2007 season. Two of them were Blacks and
one was a Gray-crowned Interior. We have now seen 36 birds from
We also banded a male Hairy Woodpecker. It was an after third
year bird. It was very nice to look at but a handful - just ask
The road is clear.
Nancy & Steve
Date: February 10, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
It started off slowly this morning but we managed to band a total of 32
new birds today. We banded 27 more Brown-capped , 1 Black, and 4
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches (all interior race). Today was the
first time this season that we banded no new Hepburn's.
We recaptured 3 Hepburn's from this season, one interior Gray-crowned,
2 Blacks, and 15 Brown-capped. All the recaptures (21 in all)
were from this season's banding.
We saw a Northern Goshawk on the drive up and Cassin's Finches were
seen on the drive down. The road conditions were fine but there
are deep drifts so be cautious if you want to park on the side of the
Nancy & Steve
[Snipped from the Arizona-New Mexico RBA NATIONAL BIRDING HOTLINE COOPERATIVE AZ/NM Birds]
Date: February 7, 2008
From: Philip Kline
I took advantage of an Albuquerque meeting this week to make the
rosy-finch pilgrimage to Sandia Crest this morning and was well
rewarded. Views were spectacular on the observation deck and I
even managed to get a photo of all 3 species, plus Hepburn's in the
same frame. Brown-capped were most numerous and were quite
variable with many first winter birds and a few that came pretty close
to the gray-crowned end of the spectrum. There were also quite a
few gray-crowned, including at least 3 Hepburn's and about a dozen
blacks. A couple of red-breasted nuthatches, a dozen or so
mountain chickadees, a pair of Steller's jays, and two gray-headed
dark-eyed juncos braved the elements with the rosy-finches at the
top. It was quite windy (13F at the top) and I didn't see much
else on the Crest Road...
Good birding, Philip Kline
[The movie is entitled "Lover's Ranch, and filming starts tomorrow. Dave's
note highlights the fact that only a small minority of visiting
birders sign the sightings log. Even though the entries may become
repetitive and "boring," they are a measure of the importance of
birders to the local economy. The Crest House is not a big
tourist destination when the temperature is near zero and the wind is
whipping the snow. So, don't forget to jot down your sightings. Ken]
Date: February 7, 2008
From: Dave Weaver
Went up to the Crest today, so here is a Log update.
There were about a dozen people there while I was there, all with
expensive cameras and scopes. They were not part of any particular
group, though. Gene [Resident Manager of Crest House]
was happy for the business as things have been rather slow of late. The
road up is in good shape, with only a little bit of ice in shady
corners. There is another movie crew setting up a cabin on the
first part of the Nature Trail just down from the outhouses and taking
up most of the lower parking lots, but they do not seem to be bothering
the birds at all...
Date: February 3, 2008
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
The weather was a major factor today. Winds were gusting 50+ mph
with blowing snow. The temperature was in the high teens, making
the wind chill very uncomfortable. However, we did [capture 36 and] manage to band
another 8 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches and 3 more Gray-crowned (1
Hepburn's). We had 25 recaptures (5 Blacks, 5 Gray-crowned and 15
Brown-capped). One of the repeat Blacks was first banded during
the winter 2006/2007 season. We did quit earlier than
normal due to the weather.
The roads were snow packed with some drifting snow but passable. Nancy & Steve
Date: February 3, 2008
From: Gil Bachmann
I have been reading with interest your articles about Rosy Finches and
the project you started at Sandia Peaks [sic]. Many thanks for the work
you have done there!
I am a new resident at Taos Ski Valley, having moved here from
Southwest Missouri. I have been very engaged in feeding and
informally observing birds in the Ozarks and in Kansas from a very
young age. It was with great pleasure that I was introduced to
the Rosy Finches here at TSV. And what an introduction! As
the winter progressed, the flock that visits daily grew to what I
estimate to be upwards of 300 birds. I'm new at identification of
the three types of Rosy Finch, but I'm sure all are represented,
I am interested in making contact with some Rosy enthusiasts, both to
learn more about the species and its preservation and to share in the
enjoyment of observing these wonderful creatures. I understand
that you no longer live in NM, but I'm wondering if you can put me in
contact with some local people who share your interests.
Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you!
[Yes, Gil-- I
copied your e-mail to several Rosy-Finch enthusiasts who will be
interested, as will I, in any of your observations. It would be
interesting if you could provide reports of abundance and species mix,
and I will be happy to share them on rosyfinch.com. If you are
seeing Gray-crowned species, the number of Hepburn's subspecies might
be reported as a subtotal, as there have been interesting fluctuation
in their abundance from year to year.You might also try to notice how
many birds are banded, and which leg the band is on. This winter, one
of my contacts who bands winter birds in Estes Park, Colorado, has
noted almost no rosy-finches. Last year he had an abundance of
Brown-capped, when they were quite scarce at Sandia Crest. You may have
noticed how Brown-capped are much more numerous this year in New
the way, it is Sandia Crest, not "Sandia Peak," which is the ski area,
more than a mile away and does not have feeders.) Your main
contacts would be Steve and Nancy Cox, who supervise the banding
operation at Sandia Crest. Raymond Van Buskirk works closely with
them. Many other volunteers are also engaged in the rosy-finch
project (too numerous to mention them all), but I can use rosyfinch.com
as a conduit for information as appropriate. Good birding! Ken]
[Gil Bachmann replies, in part]
should introduce myself further. I have just taken on the job as
General Manager at the Kandahar Condominiums here in Taos Ski Valley.
I have heard a few comments about Rosy Finches coming here in the
winter, but recent Google searches have hinted of the importance the
Kandahar might play in the enjoyment and research of these birds.
have been times that I have walked up the the feeders on the back deck
and have gotten within 12 inches of Rosy Finches at the feeder.
several hundred can be seen at a time at feeders that are just a few
feet from an array of plate glass windows. I'm sure there is a
share this experience with Rosy enthusiasts without interrupting our
service to our guests. I'm interested in finding a way.
rosyfinch.com sounds like a great place to start. I have no
to posting information from these e-mails to rosyfinch.com.
I have been looking for rosy finches with bands, and have
seen none since I began paying attention to that 4-5 days ago.
preliminary observation on the number of Hepburn's finches is that
there might be 2 to every 25 or 50 finches. This is just a general
impression at this time. I will back it up with more careful counting
[Congratulations on your new position! Taos is a beautiful place
all year around. The Kandahar feeders were the greatest and just about
the only place in New Mexico to see the finches in any numbers, until
we started the feeder project at Crest House in 1999. The
of Albuquerque has drawn greater attention to Sandia Crest by
rosy-finch researchers and birders. Taos has the skiers providing such
demand for hospitality services, but the Sandia Crest House is 7 miles
up the road from the base of the Sandia Peak ski area. Most skiers do
not venture up
there, and birders appear to have a positive impact on winter
traffic and presumably, business, thus there is a real incentive for
management to be
birder-friendly. The present management has been extremely tolerant and
helpful. Interest in the rosy-finches is infectious. Many
casual visitors, once they understand why there are so many birders
there, rapidly turn into "spotters" and some have become quite
skilled at identifying the rosy-finch flocks and even the species.
Having educational material such as a poster on
site helps cultivate interest and may minimize some of the perplexity
or even annoyance that patrons might exhibit. Ken]
Date: January 2, 2008
From: Fran Lusso & Dave Weaver
Just back from the Crest - about 10 degrees and windy. A little new snow, but not much. Lots of bird watchers.
We ran out of log pages for a few days so there is a little gap from
1/23 to 1/27 when we printed more and asked Nancy to bring them up on
the banding trip.
The road conditions were essentially clear to 9 Mile with some ice/snow packed sections above that.
Hope you are staying warmer than we are up here in NM!!
Fran & Dave
Date: January 29, 2008
From: Eileen Beaulieu (Ryan's Mom)
Good afternoon Ken and Mary Lou,
I hope you're both doing well and that your grandbabies and children are healthy and grand!
This year’s Rosy finch project seems to be going extremely
well. I’m so happy for them! It was exciting to hear
there were recaptures last weekend from the 2005 winter season, perhaps
Ryan has been around? We've had a number of synchronicities occur
during the past week and attribute them to him. Ryan's step dad
Ray said just this morning, “You never
know..............it's probably amazing what we are not aware of or
capable of perceiving.” The attached letter came in the
mail yesterday and it made me feel so wonderful, I just had to share it
with you and ask if you wouldn’t mind putting it on Ryan’s
web site. Jenny is a young lady that he had a crush on when he
was 16. They sort of dated and he was very smitten with
her. I wish I could convey to her how my heart felt when I opened
the letter and read it. I reread it several times because it
meant so much to know he was still affecting her life and that she
cared enough to let me know. The letter is sweet and
wonderful. As you know, we never forget our children they are
alive in us perhaps even more when we lose them. When a parent,
who has lost a child, as you and I have, is sent a message such as the
one she sent, it means so much to know our child is still remembered
and continues to have an affect on others lives.
Your friend always
[This letter and the attached note from Jennifer is posted on the continuation of Ryan Bealulieu's Memorial Page. I
cannot help but think that the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch that was
recaptured this weekend from the winter of 2004-2005 may have been
banded by Ryan-- and that he kissed it before it lofted from his hand.
Up, away into the blue sky, with Ryan thinking"Their pink is like no
other pink you've ever seen. And I love how they come down in this
huge, swirling flock and just the whole living-on-top of the mountain
[The banding team has quite a glowing report today. A remarkably large number of Gray-crowned species. Ken]
Date: January 27, 2006
From: Steve and Nancy Cox
We had an amazing day today. We banded 83 more
Rosy-Finches. Fifty-three of them were Brown-capped, 7 were
Blacks, and 23 were Gray-crowns (8 Hepburn's and 15 Interior).
That brings us to a total banded this season of 337 (196 BC, 67 BL, 74
We also had many recaptures (119) but many of those were same day
repeats as well as same season repeats. We did get another Black
and Gray-crowned (Hepburn's) from last season (2006/2007), 4 more
Blacks from the 2005/2006 season and best of all, one Brown-capped from
the winter of 2004/2005. That makes a total of 32 birds that are
from previous seasons (4 from 2004/2005, 11 from 2005/2006 and 17 from
Some of you did not get our results from last week-end. We banded
24 Brown-capped, 1 Black, and 6 Gray-crowned (1 Hepburn's and 5
Interiors) for a total of 31 birds. We only recaptured 3 birds
and they were all from this winter season.
We can't wait to see what happens next Sunday. Hope to see many
of you then. Thanks to all the people who have helped make this whole
project possible. Nancy & Steve
Date: January 24, 2008
From: Dave Weaver
Hi Ken aand Mary Lou,
I went up to the Crest today, so here is a Log update. One of the
entries contained illegible script, so I have guessed. Two
entries included only the time and a name but no sighting information,
so I have excluded those. In any case, here it is.
The road up to the Crest was okay today, with only a dusting of new
snow above 9,000 feet. There was a thick ice fog, though, coating
surfaces with rime crystals and making visibility about 200 feet from
the 9 mile post to the top. Cold and windy at the top. A
great day for the finches, though. More snow is expected this
Hope all is well for you two! Dave
Date: January 20, 2008
From: Raymond VanBuskirk
We had a fairly low number day, with only 31 banded. The finches spent
most of their time flying around and eating off the ground, probably
due to the low snow fall at the crest. We did however have 24 new
Brown-capped,6 new Gray-crowned (with 1 being a Hepburn's) 1 new Black,
and 3 repeats from this year. We also banded a new Cassin's Finch and a
new Steller's Jay.
Cheers and Good Birding, Raymond
Date: January 16, 2007
From: Dave Weaver
We are just down from the Crest, so I have attached a Log update.
The road up is fine, although the parking is pretty icy and slick in
spots and does demand caution. At 10:30am it was minus 4 degrees
F with winds in the 20 - 30 mph range, so it was cold enough for most
folks. The weather report calls for even colder temperatures for
the rest of the week and a possibility of snow tonight. Real
winter at last! No other news of consequence, I guess. Hope
all is well with you folks! Best,
[Note that banding
time is now a bit more convenient for visiting birders, who now
may enter the Crest House to observe nearly the entire operation.. Ken]
Date: January 13, 2008
From: Steve and Nancy Cox
The interesting thing for today, 0 banded Black
Rosy-Finches. The Black Rosy-finches were seen in good numbers;
they just would not go in the traps for us. We did band another
34 Brown-capped and 9 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches (2 more Hepburn's, 7
Interiors). We had 5 recaptures, none from any previous
season. Our totals now, after 5 days, are 119 Brown-capped, 59
Blacks, and 45 Gray-crowned (15 of which are Hepburn's).
There were quite a few folks observing today. Most of them from
San Diego, California, but some from the Albuquerque area who had never
been to the Crest before.
The roads are very good right now. However, you must use caution crossing the parking lot.
Raymond and Michael led a group to look for the Three-toed
Woodpecker. They did hear one but did not see it. They also
heard one Red Crossbill...
I am attaching the files I have updated including a banding schedule
that shows 9:30 a.m. as our starting time. We figure it will be easier
if we just use 9:30 as a standard for people to see. We still
will probably get in before that and set up the traps.
Hope you are doing well and we are glad to hear you will be out here
next month. Will you be up while we are banding? We would
love to see you. We are constantly hearing praises for your web
site. Many people think we are the ones responsible but I make
sure to give you the credit.
Date: January 9, 2008
From: Fran Lusso & Dave Weaver
We went up to the Crest today and have attached the log. We've
been having snow showers out here the last few days and there is a good
amount of snow on the mountain. The road is clear except for a
few places in the shade where it's a bit slick. According to the
Crest House staff, there have been many birders up to visit.
Best to you and MaryLou!
Fran & Dave
Brown-capped Rosy-Finches continue to be much more abundant than in
previous winters. Hepburns represent about 14% of the Gray-crowned
species banded so far this year. Birders are also abundant-- about 20
observers were still at the Crest House when I called at around 11 AM.
I hope they are signing the log! Nancy also reports that
this year they now have 25 recaptures from previous seasons: "3
BC from 2004/2005, 2 BL from 2005/2006, 1 GC from 2005/2006, 4 BC from
2005/2006, 10 BL from 2006/2007, 4 GC from 2006/2007 and 1 BC from
Date: December 30, 2007
From: Nancy and Steve Cox
We had another good day even though we only had 4 repeats. We had
one Gray-crowned that we originally banded on 1/21/2007. The
other 3 repeats were from this season.
We banded a total of 51 birds today. That includes 34
Brown-capped Rosy-Finches for a total of 85 for this winter season,
5 Blacks for a total of 59 for this season, and 12 Gray-Crowned
Rosy-Finches (3 Hepburn's and 9 Interiors) for a total of 36 (23
Interior and 13 Hepburn's) for this winter. Our total of newly
banded birds for this season is 180 birds. We missed having our
teenagers (including the older teenager Bill Talbot) who were doing the
Peloncillo Christmas Bird Count. There was quite the crowd of observers
today. The road to the crest has a few icy spots especially in the
Thanks to all of you who came up and helped today.
Nancy & Steve
Date: December 30, 2007
From: Joe Sutherland, Byfield, MA
I was visiting friends in Santa Fe for Christmas. On the 27th I
drove up to the summit at Sandia Crest arriving about 7 AM. Saw a
beautiful sunrise and all three species of Rosies. They were
there in good numbers I would estimate at least 150 birds, and seemed
to be greater than 50 % Brown-capped. Also had some Mountain
Chickadees, Dark Eyed Junco, Stellar Jays, and two Ravens.
Best Regards, Joe
[We have noted
relatively few entries in the sightings log the past two weeks. Yet
there seem to be birders visiting the Crest House daily, often in
groups. Please make a point of jotting down your sightings. The Crest
House is still up for sale, and it is important to
make prospective buyers aware of the economic importance of
continuing the birder-friendly policies of the present management. Ken]
Date: December 26, 2007
From: Dave & Fran Weaver
Hi Ken, We are just down from the Crest and other errands, so I have
attached a Log update. There still are not many recorded
sightings, although the folks at the Crest assure us that the birds are
there "all the time". Like you, I suspect that many people just
do not fill out the log. But of course we will take what we get.
The road to the Crest is largely clear with thin icy patches in shaded
areas but it is pretty easy and safe right now. More snow is
expected up there tonight and again late in the week. Well, that's it
for now. We hope you and yours had a wonderful Holiday! Best, Dave
[Check out the
links in Christopher's e-mail. He has some extroadinary photos and
interpretive information about each of the three rosy-finch species.
Date: December 18, 2007
From: Christopher Taylor
Hi there - I sent this e-mail to the AZ/NM birding listserv - so thought I would forward this on so you can
update your site:
Thanks for the great information on your site - it proved very helpful
during my trip to NM this past week!!
Also feel free to use my pictures on your site if you wish. I'd love to
get a link back to my site though on your links page if you could
Thank you!! Christopher Taylor Marina del Rey, CA www.kiwifoto.com
[Dave offers some good advice
about driving in the snow and ice. Look out for drivers going downhill,
especially if you are coming up on the outside of the curve. Curves
tend to be more shaded and ice/blowing drifts are more common there
than on the straightaways. Ken]
Date: December 13, 2007
From: Dave Weaver
We are just back from the Crest, so I have attached a brief Log update.
Only about a foot on snow on the ground at the top but the road is
intermittently icy, mostly in the shade, from about Tree Spring
trailhead to the top. It's no problem if people proceed with
caution, but there were a number of people driving too fast for the
conditions, especially going downhill.
December 9, 2007
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We had another fantastic day. We handled 85 Rosy-Finches
40 of which were recaptures. We have now recaptured a total
Rosy-Finches from previous seasons. Three Brown-capped
Rosy-Finches were originally banded in December 2004. Seven
came from the winter 2005-2006 (2 Blacks, 1 Gray-crowned, and 4
Brown-capped). Fourteen were originally banded during the
2006-2007 (10 Blacks, 3 Gray-crowned, and 1 Brown-capped). We newly
banded another 45 birds (19 Brown-capped, 12 Blacks, and 14
Gray-crowned). Our totals for this season: 51 Brown-capped,
Blacks, and 24 Gray-crowned (10 were Hepburn's).
The roads were icy with a couple of inches of fresh snow.
Please use caution when driving to the top. Thanks to all.
I am attaching the file I have with the day by day results per year and
also the results by year. [I have added
a link to the Excel file on the Sightings
Nancy & Steve
December 6, 2007
From: Dave Weaver
Here is the latest log update.
There was almost no snow left up at the Crest today, but more is
expected starting tonight or tomorrow and perhaps lasting for a few
Cool pictures of those eagles! I have never seen them mating
except in flight.
[Dave is referring to
photos I took of Bald Eagles mating on a rooftop a few doors
from our home in Florida. Ken]
Best to you both! Dave
members of the banding team, after only two sessions have already newly
banded 84 rosy-finches plus 34 recaptures. Ken]
Date: December 2, 2007
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
was another good day of banding at the Crest House. Probably
our best item to report is that we caught a Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
that we originally banded on December 30, 2004. It was a
year female then so it is now a 4th year bird. The Brown-capped
Rosy-Finches are in good numbers. We banded 20 of them along
23 Blacks and 9 Gray-crowns (4 of which were Hepburn's) for a total of
52 Rosy-Finches. We also banded a Red-breasted
that was with a group of rosy-finches when we pushed the button to
close the trap doors.
We had 30 recaptures, 2 were Gray-crowns (Interior race) that
originally banded on January 7, 2007. One was in its second
when we banded it and the other was what we call after second
year. The breakdown of the recaptures was: 13
15 Blacks, and 2 Gray-crowned.
The roads were icy from Capulin up to the top but we had a lot of
people helping us today. Thank you all very much.
appreciate the help and seeing all those friendly faces. We
got to meet 2 visitors from Maine who seemed to enjoy the Rosy-Finches.
Nancy & Steve
November 27, 2007
From: Dave Weaver
Hi Ken, I just came down from the Crest, so I have attached
latest Log update. The road up to the Crest is mostly clear
except for icy patches in the shade and is passable for anyone who is
careful about the melt on top of the ice at the edges of the
had no trouble viewing this film, though I had to allow several
(apparently innocent) popups to operate. The first Chapter is
excellent-- it features the ecology of the Sandias-- its microclimates,
the ladybug swarms, the stunted trees, rattlesnakes, and includes great
views. The rosy-finch banding is featured near the end of the first
Chapter. There are great film segments of various species and the
crowded feeders at the Crest House. Don't miss it! Ken]
Date: November 26, 2007
From: Nancy Cox
You can see the PBS documentary on the Sandias on line now.
You go to knmetv.org/sandias.
You then have to click on the photos to get it started. I had
problem with viewing it on my computer. I only got to see the first 10
minutes or so. It told me I had performed an illegal
plugin. I haven't tried it since then. Maybe you
better success. It really shows the Sandias in a great
light. No pun intended. You will understand that
see it. A lot of the funding came from the Tricentennial
Celebration and they put lights up on the Crest as part of that
celebration. Therefore there is a lot of footage on the
of the Sandias. We have had a lot of people congratulate us
our segment. Unfortunately all we did was be up there and
them to film us. We really were frustrated that the time they
picked was one rare occasion when Raymond was not with us. He
with his sister in Phoenix where she was playing in a soccer tournament.
results from the first day of banding. Ken!]
Date: November 25, 2007
From: Nancy and Steve Cox
This was our 1st day for the Rosy-Finch Project 2007-2008
There was approx. 10 inches of snow from the Thursday - Saturday storm.
It was a good day. We banded 19 Black Rosy-Finches, 12
Brown-capped and 1 Gray-crowned (Hepburn's) for a total of 32
Rosy-Finches. It may be a good year for Brown caps.
year we banded a total of only 8 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches.
also saw several previously banded Brown-caps but we never got them in
the traps. We did recapture 3 Black-Rosy Finches - 2 were
originally banded in December 2006 and the 3rd was first banded in
November 2005 as an after hatch year, making it at least 3 years old.
Tthe repeat Black Rosy-Finch that was from 2005 was also
in January 2007.
We also banded 1 Steller's Jay, 1 male Cassin's Finch, and 2 Pine
Siskins. Our next time up is next Sunday (December
Please join us if you can at 9:30 a.m.
Nancy & Steve
will start a week earlier than originally planned! Quite a bit of snow
has fallen since Thanksgiving. Check the weather and road conditions,
as well as the live Web cam views of conditions at PaaKo Ridge, near
the bottom of the Crest Road. (links on rosyfinch.com main
Date: November 23, 2007
From: Steve and Nancy Cox
We couldn't resist with the new snow falling, so we twisted
Raymond's arm to start banding this Sunday (Nov. 25). He gave
in. As you all know the Crest House officially
9:30 am. and that we usually descend on the Crest House at 9:00 am to
get set up. The year Gene (the Crest House) is requesting
keep the "set up" crew to 5 or less and then everybody else can come in
after they officially open the door. He has been so good to
I hope you all won't mind this change.
Nancy & Steve
November 11, 2007
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
Just back for a trip to the Crest. It is a beautiful clear,
mild Fall day here and the mountain was quite busy! We've attached the updated
log. Looks like the rosies are cooperating quite
nicely with the birders already.
We met and had a nice chat with Mary and Ray Reed. I'm sure
know them. It was Mary's birthday and she said she told Ray
that's what she wanted to do, even though the rosies probably weren't
in yet. So she had a nice birthday present when they saw 2
different flocks come in to feed.
They had also brought up some friends to see the rosies...
All is currently quiet on the Crest House sale front. No new
Best to you and MaryLou.
Fran & Dave
for the banding crew, beginning on Sunday, December 2. The proposed
schedule is posted here. Remember that birders do
not have access to Crest House until it opens, at 9:30 AM. Bad weather
can delay opening time or even result in closure, as staff must make
their way up before the facility can safely open to the public. Ken
Date: November 10, 2007
From: Nancy S. Cox
Several of us went to the Sandia Crest this morning for a few hours to
check on the Rosy-Finches. We did not set up our traps but
watched the birds. We were impressed. A flock of
birds came in several times throughout the morning and many of them
were already banded. In fact, we saw at least 2 Brown-capped,
Gray-crowned and 6 Blacks that were banded. We probably saw a
total of 4 Brown-capped, 3 Gray-crowned and 18 Blacks.
I am attaching our proposed banding schedule for this winter.
will be starting on December 2, 2007. We are trying to avoid
CBC time period so there are several Sundays that are missing from the
By the way, KNME will be presenting a documentary they filmed on the
Sandias on Monday the 12th at 9 p.m. It will be repeating on
November 15th at 7 p.m. It has a small segment on the
Rosy-Finches. Beth Hurst-Waitz and I got to go to the
it last Tuesday. Even without the Rosy-Finches, it is a
documentary. The producer got a standing ovation. [From
KNME Web site: "The Sandias: Just east of Albuquerque, the Sandia
Mountains explode up out of the land. There is perhaps no other
American city so dominated by a natural landmark. Endlessly beautiful,
awe inspiring, ever changing and timeless, the Sandias are a monument
to wildness, a refuge, an oasis and a source of life."]
Hope to see many of you up there. The food was still as good
ever. It was great to see the staff up there as well as the
wish we could see the KNME film. We are now in Amarillo awaiting the
birth of our 8th grandchild. Yesterday, our Southwest Airlines flight
from Chicago connected through Albuquerque. We were swept by a wave of
nostalgia as we descended through Tijeras Canyon. Sandia Crest was
clearly visible in the twilight. Ken
and Mary Lou]
Date: November 1, 2007
From: Nancy S. Cox
Hi Ken and Mary Lou et al.,
I just read on the Arizona/NM listserve that the Rosy-Finches have
arrived! That is impressive.
and Steve [Cox]
have quite a few commitments in November so we had planned to
start banding on the 2nd of December. I think I will plan to
earlier than that just to look for repeats (and of course, to get some
chicken quesadillas). We will send out a schedule soon.
Hope to see you all up there during the season.
rosy-finches have arrived! This is the earliest arrival date since we
began the feeding project in 1999.
October 31, 2007
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver, Coordinators of Rosy Finch Project
Well, we put the feeders up today and within 5 minutes there was a gray
crowned chowing down! So I think you can start the flag
waving! Dave also saw 2 black rosies, mt chickadees and dark
juncos. A turkey vulture was also seen circling.
the only entry into the log. I've attached the start of the
for this season [LINK HERE].
Smoot of the Crest House staff]
and Tony said they thought they had seen small flocks over the past
couple of weeks, but didn't get a good enough look to be positive.
As for the sale of the Crest House, all seems to be stalled at this
point... The Crest House is still officially up for sale...
Here's to another great Rosy season!
Fran & Dave
October 29, 2007
Hi Ken & Mary Lou--I have enjoyed viewing your website, and was
hoping you could answer a question for me.
My husband and I are hoping to move to Tijeras soon. I'm wondering if
we'll be seeing many of the same birds you have on your website, or if
the elevation difference between Sandia Crest and Tijeras will provide
us with significantly different species. Curious as to your thoughts on
this. thank you,
- - - -
Cedar Crest, at 7000 feet elevation. Tijeras may be a bit lower, maybe
6000+. However, you would likely see almost all the birds we saw in our
yard. They are listed on our "back yard birds" page: http://www.rosyfinch.com/birdlist.html
of the birds
at Sandia Crest are quite limited to the very high regions. The
rosy-finches, American Three-toed Woodpecker, the occasional Pine
Grosbeak and the Clark's Nutcracker, and summer residents such as the
White-throated Swift would not likely be found down in Tijeras Canyon.
When the Pine Siskins, Cassin's Finches and Red Crossbills decide to
invade, they may be found nearly everywhere. Otero Canyon, just to your
south, is a great spot for birding.
some nice birds such as the Blue, Black-headed and Evening Grosbeak,
Canyon Towhee and Lesser Goldfinch really do not venture up much higher
on the mountain. You can look forward to seeing some very nice birds
all year long. (I miss them!). Thanks
for writing, Ken]
- - - - -
Ken, thank you so much! I am very excited about moving to the East
Mountains and seeing these birds. I live in Southern California, and
with the exception of the Lesser Goldfinch and an occasional Blue
Grosbeak, I never get to see the birds you mentioned. I plan to put out
lots of feeders when we move so I can get good looks at all of them
from my home.
I see you are in Florida now. A big change from the East Mountains.
I'll bet you miss more than just the birds. :-)
plans to protect "The Bird Log" at Capulin Springs!
Date: September 18, 2007
From: Melissa Howard
Hi, Ken and Mary Lou,
You probably already know this, but in case you don't . . .
A group of Audubon people met with Forest Service people on Aug. 17 and
reached agreement on some key points about Capulin Spring:
upper picnic table will be replaced with a bench;
will be replaced;
overflow pipe will be installed;
will be put up to keep people from walking too close to the log and
compacting the ground;
saying "Quiet, Wildlife Observation Area" will be put up; and
access road will be relocated (I assume this is the road and parking
area near the picnic table)
September 5, 2007
From: Eileen Beaulieu
Good morning Ken and Mary Lou,
I hope this note finds both of you doing well. We just past
second anniversary of Ryan's death and I must say it took the wind out
of my sails even more than the first anniversary did. My
David Burke wrote the attached song in remembrance of Ryan and gave it
to me as a gift on the day of Ryan's second anniversary.
My family went to the Rio Grande Nature Center and spent the day
enjoying its beauty and thinking about Ryan's life. We went
to the blind where he enjoyed banding on Saturday and Sunday mornings
with Steve and Nancy and placed some flowers and messages to him on the
table that they use. It was very emotional. The
ended under the beautiful Cottonwood trees where his memorial was
held. This is where his Uncle David took out the song and
to all of us. We could not stop crying.
If your time permits, I would love to share it on Ryan's web
site. There hasn't been a new posting for a while and I think
this one would give those of us who look at it often something new to
Thinking of you
[Follow this link to read
Mexico Son" on the Ryan Beaulieu Memorial Web Page. Ken]
[I was rather
to hear that the huge alder tree, known as the "Storyteller," just
Log at Capulin Spring"had
been cut down. Birds often stopped in its branches before
descending to the log. It harbored a breeding pair of Brown Creepers
and provided welcome shade to the log and observers. Visitors will be
surprised to now see the sky at this previously deeply shaded hot spot
migrating and breeding land birds. Melissa provides an update that
clarifies the reason for the US Forest Service's removal of
favorite tree. We hope that plans to "rehabilitate" the Capulin Spring
Picnic Area will preserve its ambience and value as one of the
best forest birding spots in the Sandias. There are plenty of other
places where families may picnic and kids can romp. Ken]
Date: June 5, 2007
From: Melissa Howard
I was at the spring today with a man who said he has pictures of severe
snow and wind damage to the "storyteller" tree across from the log. He
thinks it was right to cut it down. The birds don't seem to mind the
lack of cover; we saw 12 or 13 species, including good looks at a brown
- - - - -
From: Sam Beard
Hello Ken, Yes, the bird log is still there, and it is
more open. The very large tree just above it died and was cut as a
hazard tree. The log was not damaged when it fell. It is still being
- - - - -
From: Bob Lowder
Ken: Some parts of our forest are indeed changing and this is
certainly true of the bird log area. The long drought and insect
infestations have taken their toll.
The attached photos [now posted
on THIS BLOG
ENTRY-- one shows
a Western Tanager at The Log. Ken]
will give you an idea of what has happened in the bird log area. One
shows the area after the hazard trees were felled, another is of the
area after we cleaned it up and another shows the current state of the
log itself. The area is now much greener than shown in the photos and
the maple or elder trees that were cut are coming back rapidly, now
being dense shrubs about three feet high. Flowers and other ground
cover are sprouting in response to the sunlight that now reaches the
Some good news is that a serious birder friend of ours has
reported an increase in bird sightings on average.
USFS may "remodel" the Capulin Picnic area and it appears the bird log
area will be protected. I am informed that the Audubon Society is
working closely with the Ranger District concerning this area.
Good to hear from you.
- - - - -
From: Celestyn Brozek
I have been at Capulin Spring ("log area") just yesterday. I also found
a fair amount of birds coming to water in the trough. I agree
with the statement "The area is now green and the maple or elder trees
that were cut are coming back rapidly, now being dense shrubs about
feet high." I still don't understand why these trees were cut
because they were not damaged by drought or anything else and provided
a good staging and hiding area for birds approaching the water but at
least they are coming back. [Note:
According to the
Forest Service, the maple and alder trees were severely damaged when
the hazard trees were felled. Ken]
As long as not more changes, damage to the area is done, it should be
OK. Yes, we (I, Beth and other Audubon people) are scheduling
meeting with the Forest Service. Hopefully they
to our voice...
In the area behind San Antonio church, I saw Red-eyed Vireo, Lazuli
Bunting, and Indigo Bunting (all three males singing) over this spring
season. Not all of them were present all the time and I do not have any
confirmed nesting. At the crest, to the north of radio towers
saw a female Three-toed Woodpecker feeding a full-fledged nestling
yesterday. It was a very up-lifting and cute view. Best,
- - - - -
Ken: I have attached a photo [See The
Log Web site. Ken]
that Sally took at the bird log yesterday morning so you can see how
much greener it has gotten since that last pictures were taken. The
There are four main factors in the loss of so many trees in the
Sandias, all the result of the long drought, which thankfully has
abated a bit as we had a moist summer last year, record snows last
winter and this summer has been fairly normal as fair as moisture is
concerned. We are losing trees to bark beetles (a different species for
each conifer), broom rust, root rot and Tussock moths. Everything but
the moths have been slowing down this year. The ponderosa stands on the
mountain appear fine to me, in fact as the firs die off, the ponderosa
will likely move up their range a bit.
You may of course use the photos we sent on your web site. They should
be attributed to Sally Lowder. Always good to hear from you.
- - - - -
From: Beverly deGruyter, Forest Wildlife Biologist, Cibola National
Forest and Grasslands
Thanks for forwarding the pictures. The tree that is
from the stump - one of the trees that shaded the log-was a very, very
mountain maple (not alder) . Its mate is still there (same size and
species of tree located just a little downslope to the
luck, it wasn't
smashed by the "hazard" tree felling.
- - - - -
From: Rebecca Gracey
Hi Ken, The Thursday Birders were at Capulin on August 9 and I didn't
seen anything amiss. The two [sic] Box Elders that were cut down are
putting out shoots that are about 2 feet high. There is going to be a
meeting on plans for Capulin and Nancy Phillips was taking names
Thursday of people who want to attend the meeting with her. No date has
been set yet. Her email address is
feeders are down, and so we close a very successful rosy-finch season.
Dave Weaver and Fran Lusso , US Forest Service Volunteers put it a
great deal of work this past winter, assuring that the feeders
were maintained and filled, and manually entering all 104 of
sighting log entries into the WInter 2006-7 data base. We thank them
for helping make this past winter the one with the largest flock of
rosy-finches since the project began in 1999! And we also thank all of
you who contributed by donating seed, especially Lee Hopwood
the Wild Bird Center in Albuquerque, who also donated the new feeders.
We especially thank the visitors who, by traveling to this unique site,
demonstrate to the Albuquerque and East Mountain community that birding
is very important to the local economy. Thankfully, there were also
many skiers this winter, but the birders have really made their
presence known! Ken]
Date: April 18, 2007
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
Hi Ken, I have attached the last log update for this season.
Nobody at the Crest House has seen any rosy finches this
The log shows no sightings for April. So, we have removed the
and most of the signs. We have left one of your laminated
reprints up beside the door to the snack shop deck, because Smooty and
others say that people often stop to read it. We were able to
return four unused bags of seed to Lee Hopwood at the end of the
season, and we remain very grateful for her help.
That's it for the season, it seems. Hope you folks are having
Best, Dave and Fran
snipped these observations from the US Forest Service volunteers Yahoo
Wild Turkeys that were released at Balsam Glade in February 2004 are
around and have reproduced in past years. Tecolote Trail is
loop that starts at Dry Camp. Ken]
Date: April 8, 2007
From: Bob Galloway
Cibola Trail Rangers Yahoo Group
Did the loop up at Tecolote this morning early. Windy and
but the trail is in good shape and all clear except for one small snow
bank. Removed some stumps and loose rocks from the
Also picked up some Denny's containers, cans. and artificial flowers
left near the picnic area.
On the way back, on top of the ridge, I was very surprised to see a tom
turkey fly across the trail about 50 feet in front of me. It
looked huge but is probably mostly feathers. Must like the
oak and the pretty consistent water at Tree Spring. I've seen
many tracks in the Manzanos but never seen one before.
Unfortunately, my camera was in my pocket and turned off. And
turkey didn't stick around for a picture.
- - - - -
April 9, 2007
From: Sam Beard
Bob ...Maybe you know about this already, but I will tell you a little
about the turkeys in the Sandias. A few years ago several were released
by the NM Game and Fish Department and the Sandia Ranger District at
Balsam Glade Picnic Area just north of Tecolote Ridge.
Part of the flock visited Don Carnicom's house in Sandia Park after
that, but I do not know if he still sees them. Apparently they have
done well in these mountains. Recently it occurred to me that I do not
know where they go in the winter and how they survive.
I have not seen them in the Sandias, but I saw my first wild turkeys in
the Monzanita Mtns south of I-40 and west of NM 337 several years ago.
I have seen several in the Jemez Mtns in the Valles Caldera National
Preserve since then...
- - - - -
Date: April 9, 2007
Lusso and Dave Weaver
Last Fall, in the vicinity of 9-Mile, as we were driving up at about
9am, Dave and I saw a Wild Turkey fly across the road in front of us -
probably a tom based on his size.. He looked fat and healthy.
- - - - -
April 9, 2007
Ken: Late last summer Sally & I saw three hens and a
about a dozen young turkeys with them on the hillside above the Crest
road at the Capulin Springs PG turnoff.
- - - - -
April 10, 2007
Hey Ken, I have seen yearlings with a parent up on Ellis
the late spring of the last two years. Haven't seen them this
year yet....but there is still a bit of snow.
Until next winter! Ken]
Date: April 2, 2007
From: Dave Weaver
Just wanted to let you know that we took down the deck feeder today,
because Gene and the others are quite sure the finches are
Smooty says he may have seen one finch in flight on Saturday, but
believes that they are gone. There were no new log entries
last week's update. We have left the log and the various
and such that ask people to record their sightings in the log in place
for now. Guess we will take the log down in another couple of
weeks unless there are new entries that seem to justify keeping it in
That's it for now. Hope all is well for you folks!
Rio Grande Bird Researchers captured
553 rosy-finches during the
winter of 2005-6, of which 298 were newly banded (44 Brown-capped, 221
Black, and 33 Gray-crowned, including 5 Hepburn's race), a remarkable
achievement. The 255
included 7 Brown-capped and one Black first
banded in December, 2004, and a Black that was originally banded on
20, 2005. Here is their final report for this winter:
Date: April 2, 2006
From: Steve and Nancy Cox
We tried hard but we did not band any
new birds today. We even
had a great group of people trying their best to urge the birds to
cooperate. We only saw 2 unbanded birds. We captured 30
same season repeats (26 Blacks, 3 Brown-capped and 1 Gray-crowned).
We look forward to seeing these birds
Hope to see you all again too.
Date: March 26, 2006
From: Nancy and Steve Cox
The banding team was able to band 4
more Black Rosy-Finches yesterday,
Saturday March 25. That means we now stand at 298 Rosy-Finches
banded for the winter 2005-2006. We have decided to give it one
more try on Sunday April 2.
They also recaptured 49 Blacks, 14
Brown-capped and 5
Gray-crowned. Three of the Gray-crowned were Hepburn's. All
were originally banded this season.
Raymond could not resist banding a
Pine Siskin since we have not seen
any this season.
Date: March 19, 2006
From: Nancy Cox
We had another day with snow but this
time without the horrible wind of
last week-end. We banded 4 new Rosy-Finches (2 Blacks and 1 each
of Brown-capped and Gray-crowned). Totals for this winter are 44
Brown-capped, 217 Blacks, and 33 Gray-crowned. We were not able
to capture the 6th Hepburn's.
We had a total of 35 same season
repeats today (25 Blacks, 6
Brown-capped and 4 Gray-crowned - including one Hepburn's). Our best
news is that we caught another Black that we had originally banded in
2004. Next Saturday will probably be our last banding date at the Crest
until they return. We will miss them.
Victoria (see his February 13
note, below) has posted some nice images of the rosy-finches at
his Web site:
Date: March 13, 2006
From: Matt Victoria, Camillus, NY
Greetings All! The Rosy-Finch photos, as well as my other
nm-se az pics are now available for viewing on my webiste at the
address below. THANKS!!
notes from Nancy Cox and the
Rio Grande Bird Research banders are self-explanatory--
Date: March 11, 2006
The weather forecast doesn't not look
good for banding at the Rio
Grande Nature Center State Park tomorrow (3/11). So, instead of
hem-hawing tomorrow morning I am going to cancel the banding at the
RGNC. Now, the Sandias have been getting snow this morning!
Yeah! And, with Raymond's encouragement, even though we don't
have an official banding day for Rosy-Finches, our time would likely be
better spent up at the Crest. We are hoping to be able to band at
least 11 more Rosy-Finches and go over 300 birds banded this
winter. Also, with a little snow, it might bring in some of
those previous year banded birds...
We got word today that there is
another unbanded Hepburn's at the
Crest. That makes 6 this season! We will check it out
Date: March 12, 2006
We gave it our best shot today but
the wind defeated us. Gene's
wind gauge was indicating gusts as high as 80 mph. It had already blown
the feeder off when we got there and then it proceeded to blow our
traps around. There were Rosy-Finches around, however they mostly
stayed down below the deck sheltered somewhat from the wind.
There was approximately 1 foot of new
snow. This was the most we
had seen this season.
We will give it another try next
Date: March 5, 2006
From: Nancy Cox
We had another impressive day
today. We banded 19 more
Rosy-Finches (12 Blacks, 4 Brown-capped, and 3 Gray-crowned - including
the 5th Hepburn's!). We had 63 repeats (50 Blacks, 7 Brown-capped
and 6 Gray-crowned). We have finally had a previous year repeat
of a Black Rosy-Finch. It was one that Ryan banded on March 20,
Now that we have banded the 5th
Hepburn's, it will be very interesting
to see if there are any more unbanded Hepburn's. I hope people
will try to notice if the Hepburns are banded.
Our grand total for Rosy-Finches
banded in the winter 2005-2006 is
290! We have banded 215 Blacks, 43 Brown-capped and 32
AZ/NM RBA:, a
report of Red Crossbills, which have been very scarce this winter in
the Sandias, and a Sage Thrasher at Tres Pistoles (we saw the
Curve-billed Thrasher there last week but not the Sage) , along with a
link to photos of the Yellow Grosbeak still being seen in Albuquerque:
Date: Feb 27, 2006
From: Magill Weber,
Subject: Yellow Grosbeak/Rosy Finches
Matt Toomey, Oliver Niehuis and I had
most of our target birds this
weekend in the Albuquerque (NM) area. The previously reported
YELLOW GROSBEAK was present on Saturday 2/25, from about 10am
until around 11:30, at the continuing location on Las Lomas near
UNM. The owners are exceptionally hospitable. They
will continue to post the bird's last known whereabouts on the
front door. There is an alley behind the house which provides
limited views of the feeders. Areas in front of the house
also have partial views
of the feeders. The owners
report that the bird has been regular
between 8-10am, and again in the late afternoons around 4pm, and
has been present every day since about February 16th.
We headed up to Cedar Crest both
Saturday and Sunday, where we had all
three ROSY-FINCHES, including at least one Hepburn's race.
Blacks are by far the most common, and flock sizes were around
40-50 birds at any one time. No reports of any winter finches on
the mountain. We had a pair of RED CROSSBILLS and one PINE SISKIN
near the 10k Parking Area, but no others. We sorted through many
Hairy Woodpeckers for the Three-toed Woodpecker previously reported in
the area, without success. We also tried for owls at
all the parking areas between about
9-10:30pm, but were not successful
in locating any owls. (Others reported Northern Saw Whets from
the turn-off just below the Sandia Ski Area.)
On the 39 Gun Springs trail, at Exit
170 off I-40, we had Scaled Quail,
Sage Thrasher, and Juniper titmouse, as well as dozen and dozens of
Rio grande Nature Center offered all
the common winter species as well
as a White-throated Sparrow, and a huge number of Wood Ducks.
Photos of the Grosbeak, Rosy finches,
and others are posted at: www.badger.smugmug.com -->
New Bird Pics
Date: February 25, 2006
From: Nancy S. Cox
We are still catching
Rosy-Finches. Today the crew banded 6 more
Brown-capped and 9 Black Rosy-Finches. The new totals are 203
Blacks, 39 Brown-capped, and 29 Gray-crowned for a grand total of 271
Rosy-Finches for the winter 2005-2006.
There were 57 repeats (45 Blacks, 11
Brown-capped and 1
Gray-crowned). Two of the Brown-capped repeats were originally
banded in December 2004. They are not the same two Brown-capped
repeats that we had earlier this year. That makes it a total of 4
Brown-capped repeats from 2004.
Date: February 19, 2006
From: Nancy Cox
We were all excited to see the snow
yesterday. There was not as
much as we were hoping for but we still had a great day today. We
had 45 repeats (36 Blacks, 5 Brown-capped and 4 Gray-crowned) and 25
new birds (16 Blacks, 5 Brown-capped and 4 Gray-crowned). We
caught a 4th Hepburn's and then were amazed when we found out that
there is still one more unbanded Hepburn's.
the grand total of newly banded rosy-finches to 256 this winter
(194 Blacks, 33 Brown-capped and 29 Gray-crowned). Ken].
Date: Mon, 13 Feb
2006 21:36:18 EST
From: Matt Victoria
[Excerpted from AZ/NM RBA]
Greetings! I arrived at
11:00am on Sunday in Albuquerque, and promptly drove up to Sandia
Crest. At the
Crest House Feeders, I had about 100 ROSY FINCHES, mostly
Black. I got great
photos of all three Rosy Finches, including a fully gray-headed
Other Birds at the Crest House included Red-breasted Nuthatch,
Stellars Jay, and 3 races of the Dark-eyed Junco. I
mile-by-mile guide to Birding up the mountain, but succeeded only
in finding many large
flocks of Robins. At Elaine's B&B, I observed my Lifer
JUNIPER TITMOUSE, as
well as Canyon and Spotted Towhees...
just missed seeing you, Matt. During our
visit to New Mexico February 13-16, we too stayed at Elaine's and
enjoyed seeing (from the windows of her B&B) our greatly missed
Dark-eyed Juncos, Canyon and Spotted Towhees, Pine Siskins,
Steller's and Western Scrub Jays, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain
Chickadees, Juniper Titmouse, Western
Bluebirds and even one Hermit Thrush and numerous American Robins, none
of which species graces our
South Florida landscape. We were surprised to see White-winged Doves
visiting the feeders. Only two years ago they were quite rare in the
East Sandia Mountains. At Crest House on February 14, we met Eileen
wonderful mother. A birding group from Illinois came in and they were
treated to almost continuous presence of all three Rosy-Finch species,
including at least two Coastal (Hepburn's) race, one of which was in
deeply chestnut adult plumage, In late winter it is not unusual
for the birds to break down into smaller groups that visit the feeders
more frequently. The lack of snow cover was remarkable, the driest we
have ever seen in mid-February. Coincidentally, on February 12
there were articles about the NM Rosies in both the Albuquerque Journal
and the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune, and we understand that WildBird
has an article about Sandia Crest in the current issue, though we have
not seen it (if someone can provide a link we would greatly
appreciate it). Ken and Mary Lou]
February 6, 2006
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We banded 10 more Rosy-Finches at the
Crest this past Sunday.
There were 8 Blacks and 1 each of the Brown-capped and
Gray-crowned. Our totals now for the 2005-2006 season are 178
Blacks, 28 Brown-capped and 25 Gray-crowned for a grand total of 231
Rosy-Finches banded for the 2005-2006 season.
We also had 16 recaptures from the
2005-2006 season. They
consisted of 11 Blacks, 4 Brown-capped, and 1 Gray-crowned. We
did see at least one banded Hepburn's (Gray-crowned).
We also should remind you that we
won't be banding at the Crest next
week-end. Our next banding date for the Crest will be on Feb
19. With the lack of snow we wonder and hope that the
Rosy-Finches will still be around.
Date: January 28, 2006
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We banded 27 new Rosy-Finches today
(16 Blacks, 7 Brown-capped and 4
Gray-crowned). This brings our total for the 2005-2006 winter
season to 221 banded Rosy-Finches (170 Blacks, 27 Brown-capped and 24
We did see the unbanded Hepburn's
again today. We have banded 3
so far this season. Today we also recaptured 31 birds from this
season (24 Blacks, 6 Brown-capped and 1 Gray-crowned).
Our best bird today was a repeat
Brown-capped female that we originally
banded on December 5, 2004, as a hatch year female.
Thanks again to everyone who has
helped with this project including
those (Steve Fettig) who got to see the Yellow Grosbeak before they
came up to help capture a large percent of the Rosy-Finches. [For Jerry
Oldenettel's and Laurel Ladwig's
photos of the Yellow Grosbeak in Albuquerque, see:
Kudos to Raymond for getting birds in
all three traps at the same
time. He was in charge of all 3 controllers and managed to get
more than a dozen birds at once.
Date: January 22, 2006
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We had an abbreviated banding day
today and only banded up to 11
a.m. During that time we banded 13 new Rosy-Finches (8 Blacks, 4
Brown-capped and 1 Gray-crowned). This brings our total for the
2005-2006 winter season to a total of 194 banded Rosy-Finches (154
Blacks, 20 Brown-capped and 20 Gray-crowned).
We did see a unbanded Hepburn's
today. We have banded 3 so far
this season. Today we also recaptured 11 birds from this season
(9 Blacks, 1 Brown-capped and 1 Gray-crowned).
At 9:40 we got word that a Yellow
Grosbeak was being seen in the North
Valley of Albuquerque. We decided to close down early to try to
see this bird. Unfortunately, it was not seen after 10:00
am. Many of us will be trying for the grosbeak again tomorrow.
Date: January 19, 2006
From: Matt Victoria
I will be traveling to Albuquerque 12
FEB-16 FEB 2006. I have booked
one night at Elaine's B&B and the main purpose of my trip is to
view the ROSY FINCHES atop Sandia Crest at the Crest House's feeders.
Once I have completed my visit to Sandia, I will have several days to
wander aimlessly throughout your State. Thus, I would much appreciate
information for finding the following species:
I have the NM Birdfinding Guide, and
carefully read each NM RBA. I was
hoping to ascertain multiple locations where I could look for
each target species, if possible...
also will be visiting
NM and staying at Elaine's B&B the nights of February 13-15, so
please look us up.
are too numerous to
count, but Cassin's Finches (as well as Red Crossbills and Evening
Grosbeaks) have been almost totally a no-show in the Albuquerque area
so far this winter. Pinyon Jays can be very erratic unless there
is a good crop of ripe Piñon Pine nuts. For both birds, do
keep monitoring the NM RBA as you plan to do, and visit any recent
haunts. Dippers have rarely been seen-- a few years ago one
wintered at Bosque del Apache. Am copying this to Pat Snider, who
manages the RBA, in case she can add any more suggestions; also to
Celestyn Brozek, who birds the area intensively.
Pinyon Jays in the
Manzano-Four Hills Open Space. This area is along the east margin
of the Four Hills Subdivision in SE Albuquerque. Take Tramway
Boulevard south from I-40 past Smith's supermarket, curving to the left
(east) to the "T" intersection with Four Hills Road SE. Go south
on Four Hills Rd 0.5 mile to the "Y" where it meets Stagecoach Road
SE. Follow Stagecoach to the left (east) about another 0.4 miles,
where it turns to the right (south). From this point to the end
of Stagecoach road there are a number of dead end streets to the left,
one or two of which have marked trail heads. There are
Piñon Pines and exotic conifers (which sometimes have seed when
the natives do not) in the back yards along the street, as well as
Piñons in the savannah to the east (the open space extends
toward the Manzanito Mountain foothills and Kirtland Air Force
Base). We often found Western and Mountain Bluebirds, as well as
raptors there in the winter.
may see flocks
of Pinyon Jays in
the Albuquerque Foothills, the open space area that is east of Tramway
and west of the Sandia Mountains, i.e., that stretch of Tramway north
of I-40. There are trail heads at the east end of Indian School
Road [and other crossing streets, up to Elena Gallegos Park].
Here is a link to the Albuquerque Open Spaces that includes maps:
let us know
if you have any
questions. We are leaving for Costa Rica and Panama in the
morning, but will be back in contact February 3.
luck and hope
to see you at
Elaine's or at Sandia Crest. Ken & Mary Lou]
researchers had another good day of banding, bringing their total
up to 181 new captures plus 18 same-season recaptures and one
from last winter.
Date: January 15, 2005
From: Steve and Nancy Cox, Rio Grande
We were able to band at the Crest
House today. We banded 41 more birds, so we are up to 181
banded Rosy-Finches for the winter 2005-2006. The Black
Rosy-Finches are by far the most common. To date this season we have
banded 146, 19 Gray-crowned and 16 Brown-capped. Today we had 11
repeats (9 Blacks, 2 Brown-capped) all from this same season
Of the Gray-crowned, we have banded 3
Hepburn's this winter. Michael Hilchey even saw another Hepburn's
that was not banded, so there are at least 4 Hepburn's up at the Crest
House this winter.
Nancy & Steve
Scott enjoyed excellent viewing
without ever entering the Crest House, which does not open until 9:30
AM. We have entered his observations in the log book.
Date: January 9, 2006
From: David Scott, College Station, TX
I spent this past Saturday morning (1/7), from about 7:30-9:15, looking for rosy-finches at Sandia Crest. A few mixed flocks were using the north [sic-- south] and east feeders. The largest flock included about 80 birds. I would estimate about 50 birds were Black Rosy-Finches, 15 were Brown-capped rosy-finches, and 15 were Gray-crowned rosy finches. I spent my time entirely outside because the shop was closed. I left town before it opened so I did not have a chance to log my sighting into the log book.
Nancy and Steve
Cox newly banded 9 more rosy-finches on Christmas Eve, bringing their
cumulative total to 147, plus 8 same-season recaptures. The low
recapture rate indicates that a surprisingly high number of birds are
visiting the feeders.
Thanks for the feeders and sharing the information about the rosy-finches at Sandia Crest. All three were life birds for me.
Date: December 24, 2005
conducts banding of rosy-finches in Estes Park, Colorado. As in prior
years, we are interested in comparing his numbers and species. At
Sandia Crest, the Black Rosy-Finches usually appear earliest in the
season, and the Brown-capped can be rare. Two years ago they
were apparently absent the entire winter.
From: Nancy & Steve Cox
We managed to capture and band 7 Blacks and 2 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches. The Blacks were all males and 4 were adults, 3 hatch years. We had both male and female Brown-capped. The male was an adult and the female was a hatch year. We also recaptured one same season Black Rosy-Finch.
We were on a shortened schedule today, as the Crest House was closing at noon for the Christmas holiday. There were a lot of Rosy-Finches around today. We saw flocks of about 100 birds, mostly Blacks. There is at least one unbanded Hepburn's still and we have banded 2 already this year.
We couldn't resist capturing and banding a Steller's Jay. It seemed that the Steller's were too smart as they been alluding our traps for several years. We also banded a Gray-headed Junco that when it was in the trap appeared to be of the dorsalis subspecies (or as Sibley calls it the red-backed). It had a bi-colored bill but no rufous in the wings.
We were glad of all these birds since there is no new snow at the Crest. We look forward to the new year and hopefully new snow. Merry Christmas to all.
Nancy & Steve
Andy Jenkusky plans a return to New Mexico (Remember that the Sandia Peak Tram does not go to the Crest House, where the rosy-finch feeders are located.):
Date: December 21, 2005
From: Andy Jenkusky, Clifton, New Jersey
Found your site by chance, lucky me. My bird contacts are not as great as yours. I feed the local crew of Sparrows, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mocking Birds, Chicadees and a giant Woodpecker. I go for about eighty pounds of seed, for the Winter, in two feeders. We have a problem with Hawks. They keep tabs on the feeders and raid them once in awhile, getting a bird or two. Mostly they get a Dove.
My eyes perked up when I viewed your pics of the local mountains. My mother lived in Rio Rancho NM until 1989 and I was a frequent visitor. I fell in love with your state and wish to return some day. The pics took me back down memory lane, I thank you for that. We took the "TRAM" to the top of the Sandia's and had dinner at the restaurant up top. I put your site in my "favorites" so I can enjoy it over again. Thank you for making my day.
Dan Sanders is traveling the country, reaching for a record number of species during this calendar year. We linked hime up with several expert NM birders for advice about finding Harris's Sparrow. Celestyn Brozek was able to pinpoint the location of one at Bosque del Apache. After picking up all three rosy-finch species as well as the sparrow, Dan proceeded to California at a breakneck pace, seeing the Baikal Teal and a Bullock's Oriole. He copied us his report to Celestyn:
Date: December 15, 2005
From: Dan Sanders, Columbus, OH
Thanks for sending along this updated information! I flew into Albuquerque on 12/12 and on the morning of 12/13 drove up to Sandia Crest (about 4 inches of new snow) and after a couple of hours, saw all 3 species of Rosy Finches. I then drove down to Bosque del Apache and found the Harris's Sparrow after about an hour's search. It was with a fairly large number of White-crowneds near the water drip at Quail Pond. From there I drove most of the night at arrived at the Baikal Teal location, north of Santa Barbara, CA, at about 9:30 AM. The teal had been seen before I arrived, but then "disappeared". About two hours later, we found it resting on the bank in the very last pond which is triangular in shape. After a long wait, a crow flew down and spooked the resting group into the water for much better looks. From here, back to LA where I arrived at the West LA
University for Bullock's Oriole...
We do not solicit money donations because the Crest House is a commercial establishmanent and is unable to accept them. We appreciate donations of seed (hull-less patio mix, which is used exclusively for the deck feeders, or black oil sunflower seed that can supplement the seed at the lower feeders). Seed may be left at the USFS Visitors Center just inside the entrance to the Crest House. Money donations may be made to Central New Mexico Audubon Society in memory of Ryan Beaulieu, to support rosy-finch research.
Date: December 15, 2005
From: Dave Weaver (Coordinator of Rosy-Finch Feeding Project)
A good day at the Crest yesterday, with about 4 inches of new snow on Monday and lots of flocking rosy finches. The new feeders are working out well, it seems. I have attached a Log Update, which I hope is okay. As always, if I need to change anything, just let me know.
One other thing... a fellow named Bob Pease, of Albuquerque, donated $20.00 for seed yesterday. We will just pass it along to Lee Hopwood [AlbuquerqueWild Bird Center] to help defray her costs, but I thought you might want to acknowledge him on the website (if it is within policy to do so, of course).
Best wishes to you and your family for the Holiday season!
[Thanks, Bob, for the donation. Dave has seen that it will be used to purchase more seed. Ken]
As of December 11, Rio Grande Bird Research had newly banded 138 rosy-finches at Sandia Crest this winter. Here is Nancy and Steve Cox's report:
Date: December 11, 2005
From: Nancy and Steve Cox
Despite the fact that there has not been any fresh snow at the crest for quite a while, we had another great day of Rosy-Finch banding. We banded 5 Brown-capped, 11 Gray-crowned (2 of which were Hepburn's) and 43 Blacks. We half expected to have a repeat of last Sunday (total of 2 new birds and 1 repeat). Carol even brought her Venezuela Field Guide to study. Needless to say she did not get much studying accomplished.
We had 6 recaptures (same season)...
We have put the numbers of Rosy-Finches in a capture/recapture formula. It comes up with a population size estimate of 660 birds with a standard error of 220. That is a lot of Rosy-Finches! Even on the low end 440 Rosy-Finches are a lot of birds.
We had an interesting exchange of e-mails with University of Wyoming researcher David McDonald, concerning the classification of the North American rosy-finch species. How clear is the consensus that they are three separate species? Might the distinctive coastal races (Hepburn's and the large Pribiloff race) be split out as one or more separate species?
From: Ken Schneider
Date: December 9, 2005
To: David McDonald (University of Wyoming)
Subject: *Rosy-Finch speciation
We keep a Web site on the Rosy-Finches at Sandia Crest in New Mexico. I have had a couple of queries about whether there may be changes in ABA species designation for the North American group. I know you have done some DNA studies on Black Rosy-Finches, but cannot find anything since the piece in National Geographic in 2004. Can you provide me with any updated information?...
David B. McDonald wrote (December 9, 2005):
I am not really all that close to publishing anything on the rosies. The person who might be, Sergei Drovetski, does not seem to moving at all fast on that front. His push would be to have them all lumped back into a single species the Rosy-Finch. I’m not so sure that is warranted but do not have strong evidence to back that, at least not yet.
I confess I wasn’t aware that anything I had done was covered in Natl Geo (except, briefly on their website perhaps). If you saw something in the magazine and know an issue/page, I would be grateful.
Might you be willing to take any blood samples? I could give you good instructions and send you the necessary kit. If you ever get any non-self recaptures I would love to hear about it. They just might be our birds.
Cheers, Dave McDonald
Ken Schneider wrote (December 9, 2005):
Here is the link to the Natl Geo article on the U of Wyoming rosy-finch research:
I found the report of your rosy-finch DNA work to be very interesting. Blood sampling would add a level of complexity and stress, under sometimes harsh weather conditions.
I have moved from New Mexico to Florida. The banding at Sandia Crest, NM is carried out by Steve and Nancy Cox of Rio Grande Bird Research. They had no recaptures among the 70+ Blacks they banded in the last two weeks, and have not had any remote recaptures since starting the project, so far as I know. I am copying them with this reply and your note... Am also copying Scott Rashid, who bands Rosies in Estes Park, CO, for his information. I ask them to answer you directly and copy me for my information.
Some day I would love to see a gathering of rosy-finch researchers. I was hoping it could take place at or near Sandia Crest, as it is so easy to get to. As the New Mexico banding project matures (it is on a 5 year plan, I believe) there may be some interesting information to share. Sandia Crest and Estes Park both capture all three species most winters.
Nancy Cox wrote (December 10, 2005):
Thank you for sending that link for the National Geographic article on the Rosy-Finches. It is strange to see the researcher named Ryan knowing that they are not referring to our Ryan.
We are working in coordination with Blair Wolf, a professor at the University of NM, on hydrogen isotopes. This will hopefully allow us to know where an individual bird comes from latitudinally. We don't have to collect blood for this analysis (we are not currently permitted to draw blood). Our Ryan and Raymond had been looking at the average distance traveled per species and comparing it to the age ratio. It was looking very interesting. The hydrogen isotope information should help analyze this data more accurately.
We belong to the Western Bird Banding Association (WBBA) and we just recently received a compilation from them showing the results for many other banders throughout the West who report their raw data to the WBBA. They highlight the high banders (top 3) per species. In the year 2004, we were high in many species but most exciting of all was that we were in the top for all 3 Rosy-Finch species. Of course not many people are banding Rosy-Finches and Scott Rashid had many more than we did of the Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy-Finches. We are all excited to see the results for 2005.
Date: December 5, 2005
Ohl of Brewster County, TX writes (November 14, 2005):
From: Scott Rashid, Estes Park, CO
I haven't had too many days of rosy finch banding so far, because we have had a Northern Shrike here everytime the finches come around. I have only banded 12 so far, but I plan to band a lot more as the winter progresses. I did have one recapture from this past spring.
...This time of year, most our birds are still Brown-caps, then Gray Crowns and finally Blacks. In a few weeks, the birds will be mostly Gray-crowns and blacks with almost no brown caps, then in March it will revert back to mostly Bown caps again.
Nancy Cox , who supervises the Rosy-Finch banding at Sandia Crest reports on a record day (November 27, 2005):
We had an awesome day of banding at the Sandia Crest today. The Rosy-Finches did not give us much of a break. We had banded 69 by 1:45. We decided that we couldn't stop there so 1/2 hour later we caught #70. It was our best single day of banding up at the Crest House. We banded a total of 65 Black Rosy-Finches, 5 Gray-crowned and 1 Brown-capped. We only had one same day repeat, which means there could be hundreds of Rosy-Finches. We were a little disappointed in that we did not have any previous year recaptures, even though Raymond did see one banded Rosy-Finch before we started.
Lee and Nicki put up the new feeders in Ryan's honor with Michael Hilchey's help. The plaques on the feeders are very beautiful. I encourage those who weren't there today to come up and see them. We all felt both Ryan's absence but also his presence. There was fresh snow and lots of Rosy-Finches swirling around. We also had many of Ryan's friends and family.
Thanks everyone for your help today. As soon as Raymond approves the proposed schedule for the Crest banding we will send it out.
Nancy followed up with these observations (November 27, 2005):
I wanted to add a few more details about today.
Lee [Hopwood, an owner of Albuquerque Wild Bird Center] finally got a chance to show she could help with the traps. She was able to push the button and have the trap doors close. She had wanted to pull the string last season but the birds didn't cooperate then. The new traps worked well except for one time when Michael was trying to close them. Of course there were close to 8 birds in the traps at the time. He was able to get the traps to work later. Michael, Lee and Raymond got lots of practice getting birds out of the traps.
Michael also got more practice banding. He has just started the banding process but did well. We had so many birds his help was much appreciated. Mary also got more practice banding. She has been trained by Steve Fettig. She also helped get bands ready for everyone else. Laurel was amazing; recording for 4 (or were there 5) banders at once and getting photos all at the same time. Raymond and Steve got to help the rest of us remember how to age and sex the birds.
Thanks again team.
Ken, we saw the book you put together of the common birds. It looks great. [This little book, which includes pictures and information about common visitors to the feeders at Sandia Crest House, was produced by Ken using the WhatBird.com MAKE-A-GUIDE feature].
Laurel is going to work on getting a poster made with many of the same birds. It will just concentrate on photos of the birds. She did such a wonderful job with Ryan's poster. Ryan's poster is now up higher in the window (thanks to Beth). It was hard to see the traps where it was.
I told Nancy that I wondered whether hatch-year birds appeared earlier and in greater numbers. Ryan noted there were many "Buffies," as he called them, especially seen early in the winter season. We thought maybe they were juvenile Blacks that looked like Brown-capped. When we looked closely, the feathers were actually almost black but had brown tips, and their crowns were indistinct but present. I asked Nancy whether this field observation bears out in hand. Did hatch-year birds predominate today? It will be interesting to see if recaptures pick up later in the winter. Ken
Nancy's reply (November 27, 2005):
We had a good mixture of ages today. I have not tallied them yet but we did have several adults. I think though that the majority were hatch years. [Subsequently, Nancy sent this breakout: Brown-capped 1 adult; Gray-crowned 2 adults 2 hatch years; Black 42 adults 23 hatch years.] We also had several that we had to look at twice just to be sure of the species. We do a lot of banding but the Rosy-Finch complex has to be the most difficult ones with the exception of the Empidonax flycatchers.
Usually we get more time to look at the birds to ID them in the trees before they go to the feeders. Today they went straight down to the feeders/traps. It was overwhelming.
Dana, Ryan's dad, was up today with his fiancée. They said that even though today was hard for them he was glad to be there. Dana says he goes to your web site all the time. Thank you again from all of us.
Nancy and Steve Cox also sent us the eulogies they had given for Ryan at his memorial service. They are now posted on Ryan Beaulieu's Memoral Page.
Mary and Ray Reed write (November 26, 2005):
Ken & Mary Lou ---
Your pioneering work with the Rosy Finches at the Crest is appreciated by multitudes Sorry you are not here to share in the fun. We imagine that you miss wading in hip-deep snow to tend the feeders.
Report: Saturday, November 26, 2005, 9:30 am to 11:00 am, Locally overcast, low to mid-40s, very brisk breeze, no snow yet. Several periodic visits of mixed flocks of Black, Gray-crowned, and Brown-capped Rosy Finches. Predominantly Black variety with fewer than a half dozen Gray and Brown-capped individuals. Also, the usual Stellers Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Chickadees.
Independent flocks of a half dozen, fifteen to twenty, and as many as forty Rosy Finches fed at both the Upper feeder and the Deck feeder. (Raymond had not yet installed the dditional (two) feeders. The lower feeder appeared to have sunflower seeds (left from the previous day) and few Finch visitors. The Deck feeder had a mix of hulled seeds, was completely emptied overnight, and was filled by the Crest House staff at 9:30 am. Four pairs of birder visitors (One from Illinois, another from Georgia) as well as many others there for the scenery. Gene Romero reported very heavy tourist business on Thanksgiving day, not there for the birds...
[Ray sent me some photos, which I will post-- Ken]
Cordially --- Mary and Ray Reed
I am in the Albuquerque area on
business and took some free time
to go up to Sandia Crest to try for the Black Rosy-Finch. I appreciate
the personal help from pinyonjay and the www.rosyfinch.com website is
great. We arrived at the Crest House around 12:30 local time on
Monday, November 14th. It was very windy. It took about 35
minutes before the finches arrived at the feeders. Once they arrived
they came back within 10 minutes. There were around 10 or
so. I had a hard time sorting them all out, and I guess they were
all Black Rosy-Finches, but there were two that seemed larger with more
white or gray on their head than the other ones. I did not have a
field guide with me and I am not familiar with rosy-finches at all, so
if anyone else goes up to see them I would be interested to learn if
they were all black rosy-finches or not.
Again, thanks to Pat for the help and
I've had a great time birding in
New Mexico. The Rio Grande Nature Center was a treat, didn't see
the Eurasian Widgeon, but enjoyed the variety of birds and the visitor
center was very nice. Bosque del Apache was great, except the
wind was blowing from the south too much to really get out and
bird on Friday November 11th. Hope to make it back to bird again
soon in your beautiful state.
Santinello of Montauk, NY
writes (March 30,
Hi Ken and Mary Lou,
I wanted to thank you for your
dedication. I went to the Crest House
this year for the first time and saw the three Finches in late January.
It was a great experience... It's a great thing they [those
running the Crest House] are doing up there.
you, Patrick. The real credit goes to those who have taken
over the project all this winter while we basked in the relative
comfort of South Florida!
Weaver, Co-Coordinator of the Sandia Crest Rosy-Finch project with Fran
Lusso, sends this note (March 30, 2005):
I went up to the Crest this morning,
amidst yet another "promising"
snowstorm. My guess is that this one will add about 6+ inches at
the top (to Gene's consternation and others' frustration - the entrance
is indeed a tunnel). The finches are still around, as I saw about
20, which are noted in the new log version
that I have
attached. They do say they are seeing fewer birders these days,
and I guess that might be because people know that the end of the
There is a new stock of seed up
there, thanks to Lee Hopwood of the
WBC. She has promised that if this delivery is not enough she
will provide more as needed... Hope all is well in Florida!
It is snowing here at the house as I write....
All the Best,
Tess wrote (March 27, 2005):
way driving to WI
for a taste of winter, I once again drove up to Sandia Crest.. Got
there at 11ish & sat in the best seat in the house till 3. Several
other birders came & went, but ANY Rosy Finch would have been
welcomed with cheers from all!! Oh well, maybe next winter my luck will
be better. Thank you for the directions, but the next time, have
those birds tied down, please... Roger Tess
Nancy Cox's report on banding
(March 20, 2005, the first day of
We did have success this
morning. We banded 4 new Blacks and one
each of the Gray-crowned and Brown-capped. We also saw the banded
Hepburn's. It was very close to being in our trap. We will
be trying again on Easter Sunday if we hear that they are still
around. It was snowing as we left.
Al Kane had snow and
Rosies! He writes (March 19, 2005):
Wow, it took a long time on this Web
to find this bird, until I came
across your web site. I had the opportunity this morning to witness
these very interesting birds. It was snowing up on the crest and we
were among a crowd standing inside the crest house waiting on these,
until out of no where they appeared. I had the camera and got some
photos although the steamed up windows didn't really help but with
editing they didn't turn out to bad. I would like to thank you for
having such a resourceful site to learn about this bird
species. Al Kane
Nancy Cox (March 14,
2005) provides a report on the results of banding. Her weather
forecast was correct-- heavy snow began falling on the 15th:
We saw all three species of
Rosy-Finches yesterday with a flock size of
about 60. They were not coming to the area as often as before but
we did manage to band one more Black Rosy-Finch. We saw them
about every 1 1/2 hours. We also recaught another Black
Rosy-Finch that we originally banded on 2-29-04. That was
probably our best bird for the morning.
We did catch a repeat Brown-capped
that we banded originally on
12/27/04. Gene Romero helped us catch that one. We had not
been seeing any Rosy-Finches for a while so we were just sitting back
studying bird songs. Gene walks up and tells us we had a rosy at
the trap. Sure enough, he was right and we were able to catch it.
The Rosy-Finches were actually
singing when we first set up. Gene
also commented that he thought he had heard them singing in the morning
before he was up and about. Many of the Rosy-Finches, especially
repeat from last winter, are getting dark bills also. We have a
photo of two Blacks showing the different bill colors.
We met Gene's boss and thanked him
for allowing the feeders to continue
at the Crest House. He said that Gene has been his best manager
so far ...
Fran and David, the ones who keep the
feeders full, both made it up to
the Crest House. It was good to finally meet them.
(We) will be able to go up to the
Crest House again next Sunday to try
to band more rosies. We are hopeful that they will still be
around especially with today's weather forecast.
Scott McIndoo writes
(March 10, 2005):
Well, we called ahead to the crest
house Wednesday morning, the 9th of
March, and they said they had seen "one." But when we got up
there, they did not make an appearance. We did, however, see a
Cassin's Finch, a first for me, and a sharp-shinned hawk, so there was
some excitement at the feeder. Maybe it's time to take the waving
flag off the website, or do you keep it up for the Cassin's?
Thanks for the great website. I went up during some heavy weather
a few Saturdays ago and got some great digital photos of Grey-crowned
and Black Rosy-Finches, as well as the chickadees and nuthatches...
for the report, Scott... Glad you got to see the Cassin's
If a day goes by without any
sightings (someone reports a failure to
observe the rosy-finches after approximately two hours, and there are
no other sightings that day) we call it a "negative
report." We usually take down the waving flag after several
consecutive days to one
week of negative reports. Small flocks often continue to appear a
bit later, into the last half of the month, with stragglers into the
last week of March or even early April. As the next e-mail
shows, persistence often pays off. The birds were still there,
the banders planned to return the next few Sundays.
Pat Snider also describes (on
March 10, 2005) her observations just a
later the same day:
Ken: I took an Arizona birder up
and we had a few of the rosies coming in and out, maybe as many as 10
or 15. Even saw some bands. The road is clear and plowed,
but I have never seen the kind of deep snow that is up there now!
Like WOW!! It was a bit slippery walking in to the Crest House,
but otherwise fine. We had the usual mostly Blacks with one or
two Gray-crowned and Brown-capped, oodles of Mt. Chickadees, and a few
Cassin's. A couple from Kansas was also there and added the
finches and Cassin's to his list. And I met Dave [Weaver], who
came up to put feed out for the birds...
Nancy Cox reported on banding
the Crest House on February
27th, 2005. On the way up they heard the Northern Pygmy-owl at
lower ski lift parking lot and also heard a Pine Grosbeak:
We did have all three species of
Rosy-Finches in a flock of
about 60 individuals. There were also at least 2 Hepburn's
present since we saw one banded and one unbanded. We banded 2
Brown-capped and 1 Black Rosy-Finch. We had repeats of one
Gray-crowned and two Blacks. The repeats are from this winter.
Dave Weaver writes (February 27,
There is a lot (a _lot_!!!) of snow
up on the Crest now. The road
is passable, but above the Ski Area it is snow packed in many spots and
icy in others. The plows have done a pretty good job, but a
prudent driver would proceed cautiously.
The builidng roof did collapse - over
the sales area, right along the
trough that runs the length of the building over the stairs down to
Gene's quarters. They were closed for one day, but have re-opened
with all services available. There is still a lot of work to do
to restore the structural integrity of the roof, which is braced in
spots. Everyone up there is getting pretty tired of the snow!
John Green reports seeing the
Pygmy-owl (February 21, 2005):
First of all, thanks again for your
reports, and your additional
information about the pygmy-owl. With Ryan and Raymond's advice,
I was able to see the owl on sunset on the 19th, and saw all the Rosy
Finches that morning...
It appeared to me that the Crest
House would have had little or NO
BUSINESS that morning if not for the birders. If there was any
non-birder business, I did not notice it. For that matter, my
wife (who bought plenty in the shop) would not normally come
birding. She has a mild interest, but it took a nice spot, where
we could watch birds in comfort to get her to come along. Not to
mention all the other nice scenery and nice places around the
Sandias. We brought business to other local shops, Elaine's Bed
and Breakfast, and restaurants as well. That small local area of
New Mexico is about a thousand dollars richer for our two day
visit. ALL of my birding friends will eventually go to, they are
jealous and excited. And their non-birding spouses will want to
go too!!! Multiply that by the tens of thousands of birders who
will someday want to see Rosy Finches at least once, and will learn
that Crest House is THE PLACE to do it...
Kimberly King-Wrenn sent these
comments (February 21, 2005):
To all the good folks who make the
rosy finch project happen, When I
moved to New Mexico with my family two years ago, I was very excited to
see many new species of birds. I soon learned about the finches at the
Sandia Crest House and was very excited to make the drive up to see
what I could see. It was a very busy winter with a new job, new house,
but I finally made the drive in late
daughter and I were so pleased with
what we discovered! There were none of the potential crowds or parking
problems. We viewed the feeders first from outside and then made our
way inside. We found a spot at a window side table and I enjoyed
finches, chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers while my daughter
enjoyed hot chocolate and a snack. The sign-in log and bird field
guides made us feel especially welcomed.It was an experience neither of
us will ever forget. I saw my first rosy finches and my daughter saw
her first snow!
that day I have sent many a fellow
birder to the Crest House. I have enjoyed swapping stories with others
about what an amazingly wonderful experience the visit is, and what a
one of a kind way it is to see a new life bird!
that all who are involved with
the Rosy Finch Project, from the Crest House managers and staff, to the
project volunteers and Forest Service officials know that their efforts
are greatly appreciated. Thanks to all of you for your hospitality and
Elaine O'Neill, proprieter of
Bed and Breakfast in Cedar Crest writes (February 20, 2005):
Dear Ken and Mary Lou:
I had guests all this week with
nothing, but good things to say about
their experience. Earlier this week [guest's name withheld by Ken] was
here and I believe that he was one of the founders of the American
Birding Assoc. and he was very pleased. My guests from last night not
only got to see the rosy finches, but also the pygmy owl... I
appreciate all you have done for everyone around here and for all of
the birders you have helped to get life birds.
Bob Landry writes (February 20, 2005):
I wanted to thank you again for the
information you provided for my
trip. The weather on the first morning was perfect and I headed
for Sandia Crest, with great concern however, since I don't like
heights and haven't driven on snow in 25 years. The road turned
out to be great, with only a couple of small patches of well sanded
snow higher up, and no exposed drop offs to jangle my nerves.
Between 9:30 and 11:30 I got three quick looks at flocks of Rosy-Finches and was able to see all three species. I was
surprised by the quick movements of the flocks and don't think that any
stayed for more than a couple of minutes. On the way back down, I
stopped at all of the locations listed in the online guide but only
managed to find a few ravens and a flock of juncos. I spent the
afternoon at the Rio Grande Nature Center and picked up Cackling
Geese. Unfortunately, three of my six days of birding were
affected by rain to varying degrees and I was not able to locate either
Pinyon Jays or Williamson Sapsucker although I saw just over 100
species for my trip. I'm hoping to get back in late spring when
things should be more active.
Kip Miller of Michigan shares some
interesting remarks about past and planned visits (February 19, 2005)
...I first visited the Crest
House a several years ago with my
Dad. I enjoyed my lifer Black Rosy-Finch and he got a clean sweep
all at once. We had a great time and greatly appreciated the
hospitality of all involved.
I enjoyed it all so much in fact,
that I organized a tour the following
year (December, 2003) and returned to New Mexico with 14 participants
and another leader. The chance to combine a visit to Bosque, etc. with
the Sandia Mountains and the rosy-finches at the Crest House was a
memorable experience for my group of folks from the Midwest. We
encouraged our group to support the efforts at the Crest House by
purchasing souvenirs and gifts, etc. In addition, we made a point of
purchasing lunch for the group there.
I am now scheduled to return to New
Mexico in two weeks with a small
group. The primary motivation for this trip is to help a member of the
group celebrate her recent 80th birthday with the chance to add a
rosy-finch to her life list. A month or so ago her family suggested she
do something out of the ordinary for her birthday - skydiving or hang
gliding, etc. She said, "No, I'd like to go to Sandia Crest to see the
Rosy-Finches!" So, I put together a quick, long weekend trip to New
Mexico. We're all looking forward to it very much...
Hans Spiecker writes (February 17,
Thanks for the great web site.
I just visited the Crest following
your directions and saw all three species in abundance. I took
pictures and wonder if you are interested or could use them. I am
attaching a couple of samples. [I] had a wonderful visit
even though it was hard to get up and down due to heavy
snow. I ate good food there and watched as a crew of young people
captured and banded Rosy-Finches that day...I enjoyed meeting the
banders and learning about their project. The young guys are so
excited about it that it excited me too. And your site was
instrumental in coming up to see the birds so if my pictures are
helpful it is a very small payback, thanks.
stunning photos are now posted on our "Rosy Finch Photos" Web
page. Thanks so much! Ken]
Nancy Cox's latest report on
banding (February 13, 2005):
Even though the road was icy in
spots, we made it up to the Crest House
where there was lots of fresh snow. We could not open the deck
door since there was so much snow on the deck. Raymond VanBuskirk
had to climb out through one of the windows to shovel the snow away for
All three species of Rosy-Finches
were present as well as the banded
Hepburn's. We were not able to get the Hepburn's to enter the
trap even though it landed on top of it. We have not been able to
confirm that it was the bird we banded last February. We did
recapture another Black Rosy-Finch that we originally banded in
February 2004. That is our fourth bird from last winter. We
also managed to band 3 more Rosy-Finches, one of each species.
We saw about 50 Rosy-Finches from 9
a.m. up until noon. We did
not see any between noon and 2.
We will try again on February 27th.
Nancy Cox reported sighting of 11
GROSBEAKS (February 6, 2005):
On the drive up to the Crest House we
saw 11 Pine Grosbeaks. They
were within 1/4 mile of the top. Raymond had been anxiously
looking for them for his year list. He was very happy about
seeing so many males and females.
Cox saw a Pine Grosbeak near the Nine Mile Picnic Area. She
reports on banding activities at Sandia Crest (January 16, 2005):
We continued the Rosy-Finch banding
project today. We were able
to see a flock of about 60 Rosy-Finches several times today even though
they were very skittish. We managed to band only one Brown-capped
and one Gray-crowned. We did see several banded birds of all
three species but they did not settle down for very long. We
estimate that there were probably 60% Brown-capped, 30% Blacks and 10%
Gray-crowned. There was at least one Hepburn's in the flock.
Other species that we saw included
one banded male Hairy Woodpecker,
one Downy Woodpecker, Steller's Jay, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadees,
Red-breasted Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatch, Gray-headed
Junco, Cassin's Finches (we banded 2 males today and we had already
banded one female in 2004), and Pine Siskins. We did see one
female Pine Grosbeak on the drive up to the Crest. It was close
to the 9-mile Picnic Area.
Our next day scheduled for banding up
at the Crest is January
30th. We are hoping for more snow before then.
Joe Schelling, who has provided this
novice "Web Master" with valuable technical assistance, sent this
e-mail with a beautiful picture of a Black and a Brown-capped Rosy-Finch (January 14, 2005)
it took me about a month since I sent those webpage fixes to you to get
up the mountain today. Gorgeous and sunny; just chickadees and
nuthatches on the feeders at first, followed by a Steller’s, but then
this huge flock of rosy’s swirled in after zooming around the crest for
a bit. Makes me wonder why I never got up there for that
before! Took the attached pic from the snack bar (with my
Pansonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 – and it’s cool 12X stabilized optical
zoom). Also signed the book as you suggested…right below Barry
Zimmer of VENT (and the Crest wasn’t even on their itinerary).
Happy Birding! Joe Schelling
Scott Rashid (whose art work graces
the top of the ROSYFINCH page) conducts banding in Estes Park,
Colorado. It would be interesting if one of his birds happens to
show up at Sandia Crest! His note: (January 13, 2005):
Just tallied up my banding for
2004 and I have banded 639 Rosy
finches last year with over 569 being Brown-caps 44 being
Gray-crowned and the rest Blacks.
banding activities at Sandia Crest (December 30, 2004):
We tried again on the 29th of
December to band Rosy-Finches but the
wind was awful. It was gusting to 50 mph and was consistently
high. We decided to try again today with the new snow. I
had to do other surveys this morning so we got a late start. We
set the traps up just before 11 a.m. and had birds in the traps a few
minutes later. It was the fastest we have been able to catch any
birds up there. We ended up banding another 18
Rosy-Finches. The totals for this season now stand at 44
Brown-capped, 25 Blacks and 11 Gray-crowned for a total of 80 banded
Rosy-Finches. Last season (January - February 2004), we banded
only 29 Rosy-Finches.
Today, we recaptured 33 Rosy-Finches
that were banded this
season. We also recaught two more Black Rosy-Finches that we
originally banded in January and February 2004. That means
we know of at least 3 birds that have returned. At the beginning
of December, we (Larry) also saw a banded Gray-crowned that we have not
been able to confirm that we banded.
We recaught a Gray-headed Junco that
we banded in January 2004.
We have only seen a few juncos up at the Crest this year so we were
very excited to see one banded.
We managed to capture the female
Cassin's Finch that we saw yesterday.
It was seen at the feeder again an hour after we banded it.
Our next scheduled banding date is
January 16. The Crest House
does not open until 9:30. They let us in earlier and in exchange
we sweep the floors and wipe down the tables. Come join us after
9:30 and hope for more snow.
Finches are being seen in the lower reaches of the Sandias and even
down into southern New Mexico, but they are not being seen regularly at
Sandia Crest. Clark's Nutcracker has appeared singly and
erratically. Rebecca Gracey reports (December 28, 2004) that the
Northern Pygmy-owl is still hanging around the parking lot at the base
of the ski area. She forwarded Nancy Cox's summary of the results
of banding to date:
Steve [Cox] modified one of the new
traps that we use at the Sandia
House yesterday and we put it in use today. It was very
successful. We caught and banded 44 Rosy-Finches today. We
had 11 Blacks, 4 Gray-crowned, and 29 Brown-capped. We also
recaught 5 Rosy-Finches from this season. Our totals for the
season now stand at 19 Blacks, 10 Gray-crowned, and 33
Brown-capped. We are estimating 100 to 150 Rosy-Finches are using
the crest feeder. However, it really is hard to estimate, as they
come and go, but there seems to be several groups.
Our best news is that we recaught a
Black Rosy-Finch that we originally
banded last season on February 1, 2004! We had seen at least
three banded bird before we banded any this year and now we know for
sure that one was our band. We are all very happy with the new
from New Jersey Audubon Society Reports and Sightings, New Mexico 2004
full report see: http://www.njaudubon.org/Travel/Reports/NewMexico04.html
November 14-20, 2004
headed up to the snowy Sandia
Mountains, climbing to over 10,000 feet to the summit. From the
comfort of the warm gift shop/deli there we got great views of a
Steller’s Jay, Mountain Chickadees, Black Rosy-Finches, and
Brown-capped Rosy Finches at point-blank range...
day of the tour was spent along
the snowy road to Sandia Crest. At Doc Long picnic area everyone
had good looks at Abert’s Squirrels, with their black fur and
white-striped tails. Some of the group got a look at four
Cassin’s Finches and some Pygmy Nuthatches. A Townsend’s
Solitaire was singing from atop a pine. Without a doubt the day’s
highlight was a Northern Pygmy-Owl that responded to my
whistling. The bird called, then flew by us like a bullet, and
finally perched obligingly in a pine for several minutes. If we
didn’t see another bird that day it would still have been great.
More goodies awaited us at the summit, however. Perhaps the icing
on the cake was getting our third species of Rosy-Finch, the
“Hepburn’s” race of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch at the feeders. We
stopped at a few places on our descent, enjoying the various habitats
present at different elevations and ran into a nice flock of Mountain
Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches. The clouds even broke at
a few places, giving us glimpses of the valley below. As we were
heading back to Albuquerque, Adam spotted a flock of 80 Pinyon Jays as
they flew across the road—a great way to end our birding in beautiful
The Delaware Valley
Ornithological Club (DVOC) visited on December 5th. Click
here for their interesting report.
writes (December 20, 2004):
...The Crest House has been
busy with lots of birders...that [BIRDERS WORLD] article just
flushed everyone out of the woodwork. Spoke to folks today who
live in Alb but had no idea about the Rosies before the article.
There were some folks from California also.
Attached is the most current table of
sightings up through 12/19/04.
Might be some more entries for the 19th when we go back later in the
week as there were several people camped out waiting/hoping for an
In response to concerns expressed on
the Arizona-New Mexico Rare Bird
Alert listserver about the possiblity of adverse effects of the
banding operations on rosy-finch viewing at Sandia Crest, Robert
Munro replies (December 14, 2004):
I found that the banding that
was occuring at the Crest House at Sandia Peak did not have much effect
on the sightings of Rosy Finches. They tend to fall out into groups of
pines directly outside the observation room. The banders are extremely
courteous and welcoming to all the birders who want to finally list all
three.(me) It seemed like highway robbery to get all three
species of Rosy Finches while sipping hot cocoa, sitting next to a fire
and looking out huge windows at a 10,600+ view.
On the same subject, the coordinator
of the banding project, Ryan
Beaulieu, reported (December 13, 2004):
"We have had many people
come up to look at the Rosy Finches while we have been banding.
What we actually do is lower the main deck feeder [to the floor of the
deck] to attract the finches... The finches still behave the same
when we are banding than when we are not banding. They come down
in a huge swirling flock (of all three species this year) and filter
down to the trees. From the trees they filter down to the deck,
usually one by one until the entire flock is on the deck surface in a
feeding frenzy. We usually only catch a few Rosy Finches per
banding session." Ryan goes on to say that the days that are
extremely cloudy, snowy and cold are the days the finches seem to
frequent the feeders most often. "The sunny warm days, the
finches find food else where and only come to the feeders a few times
during the course of the day. In other words, the birds are more
active on days with bad weather."
Pat Snider writes (November 21, 2004):
We have a first happy life
lister. Stuart White from McLean, VA
flew over and added the GC and BC Rosies to his life list. He
also repoted there were "numerous" Cassin's Finches (female-plumage) at
Fran Lusso writes (November 20, 2004):
The birds and birders have been
coming to the Crest in droves.
Almost every birder we talk to said they saw the Birder's World article
and came up to see! Should be a bumper crop of birders!
We continue to have small snow events
so the Crest is staying pretty
snowy. More expected this weekend and early next week...
On November 14, 2004, Fran Lusso
Hi Ken & Mary Lou,
We went up to the Crest today to
restock feeders..couldn't go yesterday
because of a snow storm! The birds were there when we arrived and
returned to the feeder and the trees several times in the hour or so we
were there. Two birders were there who seemed to know what they
were looking at and we had them make the log book entry: They
said they saw a band on at least one of the Blacks. Ryan
[Beaulieu] and Raymond [Van Buskirk] and Matt [Baumann] will be banding
starting 11/27 and then every other week for a while
11-14-05 11am 19 birds: 6 BC, 4
GC, 9 BK Bruce Neville and
Christopher Rustay, Abq, NM.
There seem to be lots of Black rosies
this year and every time we have
seen a flock it looked to have all 3 species in it.
I've attached some photos I took on
Wednesday morning 11-10-04.
The light was really good!
[Photos will be added to Photo Page]
Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
From Matt Baumann on November 11,
to Fran Lusso:
Subject: RE: Sandia Crest Rosy-Finch
this is matt baumann, myself and
raymond went up to the crest today
thursday the 11th and found all 3 rosy finches. We had about 10 GC, 5
Blacks, and 1 BC. when we were leaving we had a male pine grosbeak west
of the crest parking lot and about 1 mile up the road from the
bernallio sign we had a flock of about 6. looks like its going to be a
good year. let me know whenever you need some help. take care
From Fran Lusso on November 10, 2004:
Hi Ken and Mary Lou,
The Rosy's are back! The first
sighting apparently was by the
Crest House staff who said they saw them on Sunday 11/7/04. They
did not know which species.
Dave and I had several sightings
today and there was one on
Monday. They are listed below. We also saw several other
birds, including many pine siskins. All sightings were at the
11/8/04 14:22 2 GC 1 male/1 female
sat on feeder for extended
look. Laurel Ladwig (?) ABQ.
Pine Siskins, Mt. Chickadee, Ravens, Stellar's Jay and red-brested
11/10/04 several sightings by Dave
10:05 15-20 mostly GC, but did
identify at least one BC at the
deck feeder and in the trees.
10:30 5 GC 1 male/ 4
female at feeder
12:30 20-25 They looked
to be mostly BK, but might have had
some GC and certainly a few BC
1:00 10 GC
2:15 1 GC and 1 BK
We also saw pine siskins, juncos,
both white and red breasted nuthatch,
Stellar's Jays, and a hairy woodpecker.
It was an exciting day for bird
We also spoke to Eugene VanArsdel who
said he THOUGHT he saw Rosy's in
a tree along the nature trail a week or two ago but could not be
sure. Sounds like we need to put the feeders out earlier next
year, do you think?
October 17, 2004
Dear Friends of the Sandia Crest Rosy
We are the new coordinators for the
project since Ken and Mary Lou have
moved to Florida. We are very new to birding, but thought we
could, with your help, manage the logistics of keeping this great
Ken will continue to maintain the
website, 1-800 number and be the
We are getting ready to start up the
season and wanted to get in touch
with those of you who have been part of the project in the past and/or
who have expressed an interest in being involved.
We are planning to install the
feeders and put out the Sightings Log
Book at the Crest the weekend of November 6th. At that
point, we will begin stocking the feeders about 2 times a week, as
needed. As in past years, we plan to store a supply of both types
of seed under the Visitor Center Desk at the Crest. We will
arrange with our generous donors to get resupplied as needed throughout
We are usually at the Crest Visitor
Center on Wednesdays as USFS
volunteers. But we WILL need volunteers to fill in
periodically and to go up routinely on Fridays or Saturdays to check
and restock the seed in the feeders. We know that several people
have done this in the past and/or have volunteered to help out this
season. We would ask anyone who is willing to help to send us an email
stating what you might be able to do so we can coordinate the efforts,
have some backups and avoid duplication.
Please feel free to pass this on to
anyone you think would be
Thank you for helping us to continue
this project that Ken and Mary Lou
Schneider and all the previous supporters have done so much work to
Fran & Dave
Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
Sandia Park, NM 87047
250-6588 (cell - Fran)
250-3467 (cell - Dave)
The Rosy-Finches have departed, but
there is always great birding in the Sandias. Here is a note that
describes a Texas birder's visit to Capulin Spring (June 13, 2004):
Ken, we just got home from our trip
out West and I wanted to give you a
report on our stop at Capulin Spring. I only had one evening free
to bird, but I got to the spring a couple of hours before dark and had
a great time watching the birds come to the spring to bathe. I
had a long list of birds that are common to the area, but are birds we
don't get to see very often in Central Texas. I started walking
the road between the closed gate and the Snow Play Area shortly before
dark until well after dark, but did not see or hear any Northern
Pygmy-Owls. I did get to see an interesting bird behavior that is
probably pretty common, but is something I've never seen before.
I saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch flycatching repeatedly from an exposed
perch. I didn't know they did that. After leaving the Snow
Play Area, I went back to the spring in the hopes of hearing a Northern
Pygmy-Owl there. I again struck out on the Northern Pygmy-Owl,
but I got my lifer Northern Saw-whet Owl instead!! Almost
immediately after I sat down, I heard two Northern Saw-whet Owls
calling. One sounded very close to the picnic table so I started
walking toward the area he was calling from. I saw something move
in the dark and pointed my flashlight at a Northern Saw-whet Owl about
10 feet from me. He was so close that I couldn't even use my
binoculars. I watched him for about 30 seconds and then turned
off the flashlight and retreated. He resumed calling as soon as I
left the area. I also heard a Flammulated Owl and
Common Poorwills calling in the area. I talked to a lady shortly
before dark who told me that a Northern Pygmy-Owl was seen daily at the
ski area during ski season. We're going out West again in late
July, so I may try that area next time. I heard that you're
moving to Florida soon, but if you see or hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl in
the area before you leave, I would appreciate hearing the
details. Thanks again for sharing your information about this
fantastic birding area.
of Pennsylvania had an eventful drive up the Crest Road under bad
driving conditions. A Brown-capped Rosy-Finch is possibly
visiting the feeders. He writes (February 24, 2004):
First of all, I wanted to thank
you for your excellent web
I found it tremendously helpful in planning my trip up to Sandia
Cresthouse. My name is Matt Rockmore and I'm a graduate student
Archaeology) at Penn State. I was just in New Mexico for a long
weekend with a group of other graduate students and arranged to take a
rental minivan up to the top of the Sandia Crest (dropping off other
students to ski along the way). I only had the one chance, and it
an up and down day [February
21, 2004]. I slid off the road in the snow just below the
park damaging the van. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the van
thoroughly stuck. Two hours and a new rental van later, I
to the top, arriving about 12:45.
The bad luck then took a turn
for the better as a flock of
40-50 rosy-finches flew into feed at about 1 PM. The majority
were Black Rosy-Finches, but there were about 5 Gray-crowneds as well
(including 1 Hepburn's - I couldn't ascertain whether or not it was
banded). There may have been a brown-capped in this flock, but if
I couldn't isolate it. What I believe to have been the same flock
returned again at about 1:20.
A second, distinct flock came in at just past 2 PM. This
flock was smaller (about 30-35 birds) and of a different frequency of
species. This flock was about 50-50 Black and Gray-crowned (call
about 15 of each), including at least one Hepburn's (this one
definitely banded). I'm nearly certain there was also at least
brown-capped rosy-finch. I'm hardly an expert (all 3 species were
for me), so there's a possibility I'm in error, but I'm fairly sure -
and as another visitor had noted them in the previous day, I felt
better about it. I had to leave at around 2:30, so I couldn't
around to see if they came back.
Apart from the rosy finches, the juncos predominated (at
least 60 of them, almost all grey-headeds, with about 6 oregons and 2
pink-sideds), but there was also a Steller's Jay and a pair of Hairy
Woodpeckers. A Common Raven also flew over and more Steller's
Mountain Chickadee and Red Crossbills were found farther down the
mountain. I'll be submitting my sightings to e-bird shortly, but
thought you might appreciate a direct report. Thanks again for
Brown-capped Rosy-Finches were essentially absent the entire winter of 2003-2004.We
discussed the situation with Scott Rashid in Estes Park, who usually
sees them by the hundreds. He wrote (2/17/04):
It it the same here. I banded
14 rosy's in mid
January, but since then we have had zero. Early last week
we had 4 inches of snow yet my neighbor only saw 4 black rosy's and
they were only at her feeder for about 2 minutes. I saw my first
pair of Cassin's Finches yesterday at work however, we have not had an
Evening Grosbeak seen in central or northern Colorado since
September. We usually have at least a few evenings around each
winter. Our Pine Siskins just started to show back up about two
Lisa Meacham and
Jean Martin visited Tres Pistolas and provided this feedback (February
10, 2004). We really enjoy hiking this area, especially in the
spring when Scott's Oriole is there and wildflowers are in bloom.
You are invited to take a
virtual tour of Tres
Pistolas starting with this panoramic
that contains a link to more photos and information.
Jean Martin and I (from Austin, TX)
had only an hour and a half to hike
in the Tres Pistoles wilderness area on 2/9/04, doing some birding
there. What an absolutely magical place!!! I was stunned by the beauty
of this wilderness area. The soft desert colors and many native plants,
the many huge boulder formations (which must have fallen off of the
mountains hundreds or thousands of years ago and been weathered into
rounded shapes by wind and rain), combined with the backdrop of
mountains, was just awe-inspiring. How I wish I lived closer so that I
could hike here often. I am so thankful that this wonderful display of
the best desert nature has to offer has been preserved for all to
enjoy, and that it was not turned into a luxury housing development as
had been planned. It's heartening to know that sometimes we humans do
the right thing where nature is concerned...
I wish I could see that area in the
spring, but I can't imagine it
being move lovely in spring than it was yesterday! I truly didn't
know that the desert could be that gorgeous... Jean and I had a great
time at Bosque del Apache Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. I
saw my life cinnamon teal there, and my life Western bluebird at Tres
Jerri Kerr of
Plano, TX has several questions about a planned February visit.
She writes (January 28, 2004):
Ken and Mary Lou,
from north Texas! I traded e-mails with you last January, Ken,
before a friend and I came out to Sandia Peak and saw the Rosy-Finches. You were a great help to us then, and your
wonderful website is providing good information for my next
trip. I will be coming this year with six
other folks from the Dallas/ Fort Worth area - one of them is a 15-year
old girl who's a birding-whiz!
We'll be driving up to the Crest House...
Besides the Rosy-Finches, a
hoped-for bird for almost everyone will be the Juniper
Titmouse. Last year, you suggested that I check the trees
along the lower part of the road
up to Sandia Peak, and I did get one bird along the fence at a
place I think was called "Looney Tunes". I will check this
again, but thought I would ask if you know of any very reliable
locations for this bird this year.
I think last
year you also
suggested a place called "Tres Pistolas", and I have copied the
directions from your website; I was not able to make it there
would be Evening Grosbeak. I know from reading your website that
they are irruptive and unpredictable; we'll keep our fingers
And, of course, we'll hope that little Pygmy Owl is sitting out
as we drive up the road.
section, you mention a "Sandia Park" where there might be
ducks. Would you be kind enough to send me the directions
to get to this park?
Thank you in
advance for your
the Brown-capped Rosy-Finches come in. This is the first year
they essentially failed to show up at Sandia Crest.
think you saw the Juniper Titmouse along the first mile or so of the
Crest road, near Tinkertown Museum. They become most vocal, even
in winter, in mid-morning. Listen for their somewhat
chickadee-like chatter, "ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch----." They
are extremely partial to pinyon-juniper woodland and savannah. Tres Pistolas is another reliable spot
for them, and possibly Rufous-crowned Sparrows...
has been a "Zero Evening Grosbeak Winter" so far. Same goes for
Cassin's Finch. Last winter, both were abundant, and the
grosbeaks stayed into May, overlapping for two weeks with Black-headed
Grosbeaks at our yard feeders!
Park is the name of the village at the intersection of NM-14 and Frost
Road/NM-536 (the Crest Road), not an actual park. The pond is on
the left (south) side of Crest Road before you reach Tinkertown (see
the mile-by-mile Guide
to the Crest Road). It has
productive since it was deepened, lined with rubber and surrounded with
cobbles, and will probably be 100% frozen anyway.
best chance of seeing the pygmy-owl is at dawn and dusk, especially in
the parking lot across from the base of the ski area at about the 7
mile mark (directions in FAQ's).
Also look in roadside trees and on telephone wires along the Crest Road
and NM-14 for this amazingly tiny owl that I thought looked, in profile
from a distance, like a "bluebird with a fur collar."
luck! Do let me know how you do, and if you have any
Arthur led the Audubon Society Thursday birders to Crest House on
January 15, a welcome snowy morning:
Hi, Mary Lou and Ken,
Thanks so much for leading the
group today and helping with the identification of the finches. It was
really a treat and everyone remarked what fun it was to learn the field
marks, plus just seeing all those pretty birds! A great morning of
birding! The chukar was
David Cree of
Peachtree City, GA is in a quandry about when to visit Sandia Crest
this winter, as Rosy-Finch numbers have been down. He writes
(January 9, 2004):
Thanks for your Sandia Crest
With the current trend at the crest as far as seeing all 3 species
of finches, when would you suggest I fly to ABQ to have a reasonably
good chance to see ALL 3 species????
Sounds like Black are a slam
dunk, and the Gray-crowned are
somewhat assured as well--- BUT, how often are the Brown (-capped) seen
the crest??? Every other day---once a week???? Just
curious to know as a trip out there will be $400 plus rent
car and hotel, etc! So, I really need to make sure I have the
possible chance for all three before heading out on Delta!
can only hope that we get some snow. None is forecast for the next week
or longer. Last winter we had fairly good early December snow,
then a prolonged dry period until early February. All three
species were at the Crest all year. Indeed, since 1999 there had
rarely been a day between mid-December and early March when all three
species were not present. This has been the worst year so far, with
30-50 Black but only 2-3 Gray-crowned and nearly no Brown-capped Rosy-Finches (2 on
December 21, and a couple early in November). On at least two
days so far this winter, birders saw no Rosies at all! I
personally do not feel comfortable identifying first year birds as
definite Brown-capped unless they are in a flock with older birds and
some Gray-crowned immatures and females for comparison.
you look at the chart at RosySightings.html
you might generalize that mid to late February has been best for total
numbers-- but this year has been different indeed! If I
were a gambler I would say that if it starts snowing at Sandia Crest by
early February, a trip during the latter half of that month may be most
productive. One of my contacts, a bander in Estes Park CO (Scott
Rashid) normally gets "thousands" of Rosy-Finches by late December but
was "only" seeing about 200, mostly Brown-capped. Then the heavy
snows came around January 1st and he had 2,000-- here are quotes from
"you pay your money and you take your chances!" Please
let me know what/when you decide. I will try to keep the Web site
up to date. We usually go up on Tuesdays and then can summarize
the records in the log. In between, we hope that Internet birders
will keep us informed.
It has been snowing today and we had several rosyfinches
(about 250) They were mostly Brown Capped with a few Gray crowns
and only 2 Blacks. I have only banded about 40 this winter, but
it has been very warm and no snow until today. I hope to band
several tomorrow if the weather keeps up.
Today we have over 2000 Rosy's at the house. All three
species. I am getting several recaptures. The oldest is 3
(December 27, 2003) points out an identification problem that seems
more problematic early in the winter. Most of the rosy-finches we
see are immatures, which show somewhat less interspecific variation
than adults (and remember that 6 out of 7 of any of the three species
will also be males). Also, adult Black males and females are
quite similar, while female Brown-capped and Gray-crowned are rather
dull compared to males of those species.
On Sat.Dec.27th I visited
Crest house to see the finches.
Snow on the way up about 11am turned everything into a winter
Now my question... there was a flock of 20-30 finches and after looking
book I thought I was looking at Gray - Crowned. Now back home in
think they were Black Rosy.
Any help? What is being
the Crest House this morning (December 30), we saw a flock of 30 Black
Rosy-Finches and one Gray-crowned. I do see that the immature
Blacks appear to be dark mottled brown. The first winter Blacks
have duller gray hindcrowns than the adult Blacks (which, like adult
interior Gray-crowned, have almost white hind crowns), and also note
the individual contour feathers-- they are black (or very dark brown)
with buffy margins that get pinker on the breast as they progress down
the belly. Immature Blacks also have brighter pink on their wings
and belly than Gray-crowned. The single Gray-crowned (Hepburn's)
we saw today had warmer brown, almost cinnamon, especially on the lower
neck, back and chest and also had very little pink on the wings and
belly. My theory is that as the winter progresses the buffy outer
margins of the immatures' feathers wear off and they become more
uniformly black like the adults.
Adults of both the Black and the Gray-crowned appear (to me) to have
very black chins and foreheads that contrast strongly with their light
hindcrowns and eye-rings.
Jonathan Batkin of
Santa Fe reports that Pine Grosbeaks and a Chukar
have joined rosy-finches (December 7, 2003):
Dear Ken and Mary Lou:
I have followed your site
for a year. Thanks for providing such a great service.
My wife and I (Jonathan and Linda
Batkin, Santa Fe) were at Sandia Crest this morning and were joined by
Tom Beeke of Michigan. At 10:45 we saw a flock of birds circle
over the visitor center and light in the trees on the edge of the
observation deck. We were able to observe them perched for
several minutes, and at that point they moved to the platform
feeder. The flock included one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
(Hepburn's, but we could not age or sex), and ten Black Rosy-Finches,
including males, females, and at least two juveniles. They were
present for more than ten minutes before leaving, and did not return
before we left at 11:30.
Tom Beeke was there yesterday and
saw no Rosy-Finches. However yesterday and today there was a
Chukar foraging near the visitor center, and one staff member said it
was also there on Friday. We also saw a flock of about ten Pine
Grosbeaks, both male and female, which perched about twenty yards from
the observation deck but did not come to the feeders.
[This is earlier than
usual for Pine Grosbeak. A Chukar was seen
along the Crest Road last year about a mile from NM-14, and another on
May 11, 2003 at
about 9000 feet elevation near Bart's Trail, but this is the first one
I've heard of
at the Crest. To my knowledge, Chukars have not established a
breeding population in the Sandias. Presumably those we see have
been released or are escapees. Ken].
Dennis Tolsma of
Atlanta writes (December 5, 2003):
Hey, Ken, I did my NM seminar in
early November, and was, as you warned me, disappointed by no finches
on the Crest. Wind was howling then too, but I did see the
Steller's enjoying a snack.
I'll be back in some future
winter, though. By the way, one of my friends and I got out to
play the Santa Ana pueblo golf course, really nice, and people were
nice too, and the cottonwoods in the bosque of the Rio Grande were
gorgeous. I even drove down to Bosque Del Apache, another wonderful
place, and the idea of seeing Sandhill and snow geese in the tens of
thousands is another reason to come back a month or so later than this
trip. You live in a pretty nifty area--I see why you retired
Aziza Cooper of
Albuquerque describes her Rosy-Finch sightings of
November 23, 2003:
Hi, Ken, I'm very happy to say I DID see Black
waited about 45 min. in the Crest House and saw about 15 on #3 feeder
(on the deck) at about 10:50 on Sunday. A tour was there, Bob, the
leader of BirdTreks from Peach Bottom, PA, told me the finches had been
there at 9:45 AM. They arrive very abruptly, stay for 30 seconds, then
vanish again. I had great looks in good light at close range, and am
happy with the i.d. Bob said one Brown-capped immature was with them.
When I saw the birds the tour had left and I was the only birder
silently exulting. Thanks, for your feeders and website. Aziza
writes about two hazards faced by birds at the Crest House, and
the courageous action he took to correct the problems (October 30,
Subject: Re: Red Crossbills at Sandia Crest
Raymond [VanBuskirk] and
I went up to the Sandia Crest last weekend to lead a bird walk for my
little brother's cub scouts. As soon as we got there we noticed
at least 100+ Red Crossbills hanging out in the dead tree just east of
the [Crest] house. They
were flying down to two open sewage containers also east of the
house. The caps were off the containers and we noticed an
interesting behavior, a Red Crossbill was feeding a Pine Siskin.
Raymond and I went over to where they were drinking to make sure they
weren't drinking something that could hurt them, when we noticed a juvi
Crossbill had fallen into the tank. Every once in a while it
would flutter by. The next thing we noticed was it floating near
the opening, I stuck my hand in the sewage and pulled out a dead
Crossbill. Raymond and I covered the holes with rocks and went
inside to talk to the Gene Romero, the crest house manager. As
you said, Ken, Gene is a very nice guy and very approachable. We
talked to him about the sewage containers and he said he would get that
taken care of right away. Maybe we should think of putting some
kind of bird bath system out there to attract birds?
Anyway, when Raymond and I were outside, Raymond
lot of Crossbills hitting the windows. Raymond picked up one of
the Crossbills that was injured and he took it home to bring it to
wildlife rescue the next day. It eventually flew away around his
house the next day. My point was that we can't have the birds
hitting these large windows. I talked to Gene and told him about
window silhouettes, which he then was very cooperative in wanting to
get them. Through the generosity of Lee Hopwood at Wild Bird
Center - West Side, who donated a pile of silhouettes to Central
New Mexico Audubon Society when she heard about the problem, there are
now hawk and bird silhouettes on the 24 large picture windows at
the crest house.
Ryan. The hawk and chickadee appliqués on all the Crest
House picture windows are very attractive. We hope they result in
fewer window strikes. Gene said he had been seeing about 5 dead
Red Crossbills daily, but [on November 11] reported none since the
"decorated." However, the crossbills have stopped congregating
near the building since their source of water [the sewage
containers mentioned above] were capped. Interestingly, all last
winter I learned of only 2
rosy-finch injuries due to window strikes. The crossbills do have
very rapid and direct flight habits, while the rosy-finches fly slowly
and tentatively as they approach the ground, sometimes hovering as they
to land. Maybe this mitigates injuries to the rosy-finches
from impact with the windows. As for a water
feature, we tried that but it attracted mammals in the summer and froze
in the winter. It also required daily attention. The
fountain in our yard seems to draw more birds than the feeders!
Rav and Ken
Nicholson comment on our panoramic view
of Madera Canyon
(September 9, 2003):
Wow, that's awesome! We are so blessed to have the Sandias in our
backyard. Having spent much of my life in flatter places before
Albuquerque 12 years ago, I never take the mountains for granted.
Ken & I
hike the Sandias nearly every weekend between snow seasons, and ski
it's open for the winter. We decided to do the trail adoption
because we wanted to give back to our beautiful mountain
you! We think of the Sandias as our "front yard" since our
home faces the mountain at 7000 feet at the edge of the
and we share your enthusiasm for this treasure. Ken and Mary Lou]
writes (August 26, 2003):
Hi Ken and Mary Lou,
you to know I enjoyed the recent photos and your postings. My friend
Gail Szpatura and I have been participating in the NM Breeding Bird
Atlas project for 3 years - the last 2 of which were doing
blocks in the Valles Caldera. Neither of us is very high tech
computer-wise, and so it was fun to see your photo [See
photo of Valles Caldera at: VallesPano.html
Ken ]. And I can forward
your message to my sister and a friend in Minnesota whom I've been
telling about the Caldera - both of whom have come (or are coming to
see) the Rosy Finches! So they'll enjoy that part too.
for taking the time to post and care so much about NM birding.
Buck Buchanan writes (August
Hi Ken, I've just
returned from the lengthy trip that took
through Albuquerque on July 20-21. On the first day, I spent the
birding my way up toward the Crest. On the second, I spent two hours
the sun got over the Sandias) birding the west slope. The birding was
enjoyable for me. There were places, like the south 10k trail where
were birds everywhere. I saw about 45 species in all. The mile-by-mile
on your web site were invaluable. Thanks again for your help in
where to go. Buck Buchanan
Jerri Kerr writes (August 8, 2003):
Subj: You're making some Texans
Ken and Mary Lou, I've had your
website bookmarked ever since
discovering your wealth of information on the Rosy-Finches at Sandia
Peak [sic--Jerri means Sandia Crest].
I used it to plan my fabulous - and successful! -
trip there last February, where I saw all three species and the
This morning, while I should be
working, I took a look at the website
again and see that you've made some great additions to it - including
the Mile-by-Mile Guide to Crest Road. I already have four people
from my Audubon chapter committed to come out with me when I return
next February, and I will use your Guide for sure.
Looking at your fabulous pictures of
SNOW is quite refreshing for those
of us suffering in 109-degree heat right now.
[Thank you, Jerri. We are
leading 21 consecutive Wednesday
morning bird walks for the Forest Service from May through early
October, and we are now just past halfway through! We are walking
at three sites of different elevation along the Crest Road, and it is
interesting to see the changes in the mix of birds as well as the
flowers, lepidoptera and hymenoptera. Come late October, we will
devote full attention to the Rosy-Finches. Maybe we will see you
on one of our "re-supply" treks to the feeders this winter. Ken
and Mary Lou]
Our good friend and respected birder
Sei Tokuda wrote (April 13, 2003):
Ken and Mary Lou:
It has been weeks since I
went to your . web site This is the first time that I have
seen the panoramic view taken from the deck. Beautiful as
is the Hepburn's. Thank you. Sorry I missed you on Tuesday. I
left two gallons of sunflower seeds in the storeroom. Hope that you got
them. Thank you for all the work you are doing for birders and
especially for putting your findings on the Internet. Yes, Sandia Crest
is now the Rosy Finch capital of the world. You did it single-handedly.
You are doing New Mexico Proud! Happy Birding!
Pamela Paternoster of Eagle Nest
shares with us her enthusiasm for Rosy-Finches in this
note (April, 2003):
Hello, from Eagle Nest! My husband,
John and I, have been graced most of the Winter with Rosy Finches at
our feeders!! If you know of Dave Cleary of Maxwell, NM (We call
him our "bird man") you may be aware of the huge flock of Rosy Finches
we are entertaining at our feeders!! [Dave also told me that
there was a predominance of the Coastal/Hepburn's race at nearby Angel
Fire-- Ken]. We came to Eagle Nest three years ago and
had previously been
feeding birds in Taos. Moving here, we have adjusted to the
altitude (8,300 ft) and what to feed. We feed birds year round
with a total, at present, of 11 feeders. Feeding a good mix
of black oil sunflower, millet and cracked corn in some and thistle in
others, we attract several species of birds throughout the year.
This year, however, we have been blessed
with the large number of Rosy Finches!! Some are so pleased to be
wait for the filling of the feeders on branches next to us while we
Many days, after filling the feeders early
mornings (before we leave for work) most feeders are empty by noon and
on the weekends (especially if the weather is cold, wet and windy) we
put out additional feed for our friends!! We were told of your
project in the Sandias by Dave Cleary and are very excited to know we
share the same birds! ...Thank you for such a great web site--we
have recently discovered prdseed.com
and found the quality of their products to be excellent. Glad to
see them on your links! ...Our home is on the NE shoreline of
Eagle Nest Lake, so we enjoy the Bald and Golden Eagles, as well as
many species of ducks and geese. Only last week a Canada Goose
was a visitor to our yard and spent quite some time under the thistle
feeders before flying out over the Lake! As I am the Deputy Clerk
for the Village of Eagle Nest, I take great pleasure in sharing our
bird adventures with visitors to our community... Thank you for this
wonderful and informative .web site I hope
you won't mind hearing from me from time to time. If I may
be of any assistance to you from this area of our state, please let
me know!!! Sincerely, Pamela Paternoster
This note (March 31, 2003) from Gerry
Colborn of Albany, NY includes a
link to his Web page. His trip description and photos are
excellent. Do visit!
First of all, thank you for your web page and the information
you've provided on the Sandia Crest Rosy-Finches. My brother and I went
out to see them in February. I've included a link to your Rosy-Finch
page in the trip report on my web site and wanted to make sure you had
no problem with it. If you want to
check it out go to http://home.nycap.rr.com/gcolborn/
and check the trip report from AZ-NM. Thanks again for all your help.
Tony Gallucci writes (March 31, 2003)
from Texas about late
season occurrence of rosy-finches in Taos, NM. Before the Sandia
Crest feeding began in 1999, Taos Ski Valley was one of the few
reliable and accessible spots for rosy-finches in New Mexico.
Hi, Just a note. I follow all
your reports on Sandia Crest and
the Rosy-Finches. Last year I went through NM and was unaware of
the Sandia Crest group, but went to Taos Ski Valley where I had 12
rosies as late as April 8. There were 4 Blacks, 3 Browns, and 4
Grays (2 of each racial group). Just thought I'd pass that along.
Don't know if they were seen there after my date, but the birds
didn't seem antsy to leave. In fact, they were huddled in the
letters of the Kandahar Condos sign, much like House Sparrows would do
around here. tony g
Sandy Corliss asks (March 28,
2003) about "The Log" at Capulin Spring (link):
Ken and Mary Lou, Thanks so
much for sharing with your wonderful
. web site We live in Corrales and visit your site often. We have also
been regulars at the Crest this year and have had some wonderful views
of the Finches.
Can you tell me what the situation is
at "The Log" right now? Do we
have some migrating birds in that area? Looking to get some more
pictures with my Canon 500mm lens and that is such a great place to be
able to document. Thanks for any help
you can give and thanks again for sharing your wonderful sightings and
We will update the "East Mountain
Birding" Web site up after we put the Rosy-Finches in "mothballs"
around mid April. Right now it emphasizes winter happenings but it
would be nice to have it describe year-round birding. Our
Hi Sandy, "The Log" at Capulin
Springs is still snowbound.
The Forest Service says it will keep the road closed until
May 1, but has opened it a bit earlier when conditions permitted.
We have not visited it since the fall, but will try to get there during
April to see that it is in good condition. Last winter it ran dry
because of a break in the pipe from the spring to the log.
Of course migration is already
underway, but the birds of particular
interest start coming in the last week of April (Band-tailed Pigeon,
Grace's, MacGillivray's & Virginia's Warblers), and
the orioles, tanagers and vireos arrive around the first
week of May. The months of May and June are usually best,
before the Monsoons start, then again when it gets
dry in late August, in time for the fall migration. During the wet
season the birds have less need to visit. Ken can't wait to
try out his new Canon A40 digital camera at "The Log," and will try for
a picture that depicts the overall ambiance... Ken and Mary
Gordon Ewing reports seeing a
of Rosy-Finches on March 10, 2003. He also
notes that the number of interior Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches is
diminishing. He also saw a probable female Purple Finch. It may
be difficult to separate it from female Cassin's Finches, which show
considerable in tvariabilityhe amount of streaking and brightness
of facial markings. Look carefully at the culmen (upper bill
line) which is razor straight in Cassin's. Cassin's often has a
noticeable crest and an eye
ring, lacking in the Purple Finch.
After thinking about it for 3 or
yesterday (10 Mar 03) I drove to Sandia Crest above Albuquerque to look
for Rosy-Finches. They are still there. The largest flock had about 100
birds and there were birds swirling in about every 15 to 20 minutes
9:30 and they had not stopped at 11 am when I left. The Gray-crowned
Rosy-Finches were nearly gone. Every time 15 or more finches were at
the deck feeder there would be one Hepburn's with them, but I never saw
more than one at a time. I do suspect
that more than one is still there. As for Interior Gray-crowned I never
saw more than two at one time and often none were at the feeder. I
would guess that around 55 - 60% of the birds were Brown-capped with 40
- 45% were Black. It was really spectacular to see 3
life birds at one time and to be less than 100 yds from my car. The
last time I saw three life birds in a single day was May 4, 1988 on the
Texas upper gulf coast. Another bird of interest
was a probably Purple Finch, a female in a flock of 8 or 10 female
Cassin's Finches. She had a broad, mostly white supercillium and malar
and her underparts were broadly streaked with brown that was
not as narrow, dark and sharply defined as the female Cassin's Finch. I
saw a few other high altitude birds and the trip was well worth it.
Pine Grosbeaks waited until
March 2 to
an appearance, when they were seen at the 10K Trailhead (11.4 mile
mark). On March 8, they were seen again at the 12.3 mile mark as
reported to AZ/NM RBA
Doug Emkalns of Albuquerque:
Gordon J Ewing
3-8, Neville and I birded the main
road up to the crest today and
FINALLY had Pine Grosbeaks. They were calling and foraging along the
Ellis Trail only 100-150 yards up from the Ellis Trail parking area
which is, I believe, two miles or less from the crest.
At the crest the flock of 80 or so
rosy-finches were swirling in and
around the parking area/gift shop from 10:30 - 11 am with birds
the west side of the building with
only a few coming into the feeder.
Cassin's Finch were utilizing the south side feeder.
Evening Grosbeaks were calling and
foraging directly across/north from
Sandia Park Pond coming into a feeder which is rather
obscured by junipers.
On March 7, 2003, Jack Drummond of
Los Lunas, NM reiterated
observations that "interior" race of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
numbers appear to be declining, and that flock size decreases with the
approach of spring, in his post to the AZ/NM RBA:
Made my annual pilgrimage this
morning to the 11000 foot top of the
Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque to get the Rosy
Finches. On only two occasions between 8:30 and 10:30 did a flock
of about a dozen birds descend en masse to the
feeders. Separating out the three species is a lot harder than
indicated from reading the postings here, but it seemed that
the first flock lacked Brown-capped, and the second lacked normal
Gray-crowned. Both times the flocks were dominated by Blacks with a few
obvious Hepburn's race with gray extending around to
their faces. Other birds coming to mostly the upper feeder were
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES CASSIN’S FINCH, STELLERS JAY, WHITE and
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, and singing JUNCOS.
My appreciation goes out to Ken and
Mary Lou Schneider for organizing
Scott Rashid of Estes Park,
feet provides some impressive observations in this e-mail
(February 25, 2003). We should be on
the alert for banded Rosy-Finches. So far, no one has reported
seeing any. As noted, a banding operation may be inaugurated at
Sandia Crest next winter. We hope to post one of his pictures.
Dr. George C. West of Green Valley,
on March 6 and posted this on AZ/NM RBA:
We enjoyed watching all three species of Rosy-Finch from the warmth of
the restaurant on top of Sandia Crest on March 6 where large and small
flocks came and went in the wind and cold (23 degrees). This is a great
place to study the differences among the three species (we only saw
"Hepburn's" Gray-crowned) and to also observe flocks of Cassin's Finch,
many Mountain Chickadees, Red and White-breasted Nuthatches, Steller's
Jays, "Gray-headed" Juncos, and Hairy Woodpecker. Many thanks to Ken
Schneider for working with the US Forest Service and the owners of the
leased restaurant/gift shop at the top of Sandia Crest
to allow him to set up the three feeders and provide us with an
opportunity to see these beautiful birds. We wish him the best in
continuing this effort and learning more about the populations of the
David Smith of Santa Fe sends an inspiring account of his encounters,
not only with the Rosy-Finches, but with some non
birders at the Crest House in this March 1, 2003 e-mail:
Thanks for all the information on the RBA list and on your Rosy Finches
My wife, little boy and I went to the Crest House this morning and saw
all three species of Rosy Finches in a flock of about 40 birds (After I
took the liberty of clearing the snow off the seedless tray feeder and
adding some hull-less sunflower seeds from the bucket by the patio
All three species were life birds for us! As we have birded only in New
Mexico for the last few years, it has been about four years since we
have been able to add any new
birds to our life lists. What a red letter day!
Never-before seen birds against a back-drop of fog and heavily
snow-laden trees made for an other-worldly experience that I will not
In keeping with the spirit of spreading the word (as you have been
doing), we talked to several non-birders, and loaned them our
binoculars after explaining what a rare site was before us. Some of
them seemed genuinely impressed.
Thanks for all your hard work.
V. Smith R.N.
I just saw your rosy finch page, It
looks great! I too am a
fan of the rosy finches. Here in Colorado we are fortunate to have, on
some occasions, huge numbers of rosy finches coming to our
feeders. This past October and early November we had a record
number of these birds at our feeders. I estimated we had about
10,000 Rosy Finches here. From 28 October through 26 November I
banded 556 Rosy Finches (all three species, including the Hepburn's
race). However, since
then the birds have not been present in such numbers. Our
predominate rosy is the Brown capped in the fall and spring and the
gray-crowned in the winter.
you're interested I have photos of the birds covering our deck and
Thanks for the web site,
Warren Woessner and Iris Freeman of
Minneapolis, MN waited
in the cold for the Crest House to open on
February 22, 2003:
Hi Ken & Mary Lou--
It was nice to meet you at Crest
House on Saturday. Thanks for the help in sorting out the
When Iris and I arrived at about 845 AM,
it was clear and sunny. While we
could see both the upper and lower
feeders from the lower parking lot, only a flock of Cassin's finches
and a pair of Mountain Chickadees were using
them. So we drove up to the upper parking
lot and (as we expected) found the restaurant closed. However, a flock
of at least 30 Rosy-Finches was
perched chattering in the scrubby
(spuces?) on the north side of the restaurant. Unfortunately, the
light was so bad that we could only see
silhouettes, and after a minute or so
they lifted up, circled several times and flew off. Fustrating!
when the restaurant opened at 930, we could see
that they had been feeding at a
feeder you had set up very close to the window on the north side of the
restaurant (that would not be visible except from
inside, and inside, the light was
perfect). After about an hour,the flock returned for no more than
a few minutes, but fed on seed you had scattered
just outside the window, so the views
were perfect of all three species. Then the flock took off again,
but returned about 15 minutes later for another
brief feed at that spot. So I guess the
tip for Feb. is that there is no real need to show up until the
restaurant opens and you can bird with your coffee and
muffin in hand. You can see the other
two feeders from inside the restaurant. There were Steller's Jays as
well, ravens, and a WB nuthatch or
two, but, of course the stars were the
finches. I had seen Brown-Headed in Col. and Gray-Crowned inthe
Pribilofs years ago, so the Black was the only
lifer, but it was still great to meet
them all again, and in such good company.
Mary Lou Arthur found the
Crest House closed on February 20th because of the snow conditions.
She reports (Februsry 21, 2003):
Hi, Mary Lou and Ken,
Tamie Bulow and I went up to the Crest yesterday
afternoon - absolutely beautiful up there (and on the way)--- the shop
closed up tight, but we observed from the stairs on the east side.
2:45 14 birds: 2 Hepburn's, 2 gray-crowned and
3:00: flock of 100+ mixed with a large # of
blacks (filled the top and sides of the large pine on the west side,
observed from the parking lot.)
3:30: 30/so back in the same tree. Observed from
the car as we were leaving. No separation of species.
We also saw at
least 20 mt. chickadees, 2 male hairy woodpeckers, 15 Oregon juncos (4
gray-headed, and 1 slate-colored), the white-breasted and red-breasted
nuthathes and the Stellar's jays were there,
also. A fun afternoon!!
Jerri Kerr of Plano, Texas wrote about
her quest for several life
birds. She arrived at Sandia Crest on February 15, 2003:
...We got all three species of Rosy-Finch, and the Hepburn's race of
Gray-crowned! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for all the info you provide on
your , web siteand for the info table at the Crest House, and for
feeding the birds! You must have seen that I started to write the
numbers of what we saw, but I got distracted and walked away without
We arrived straight from the airport about 11:00, to very poor
visibility, but we could see that hulled-sunflower feeder well enough!
We met Tom, the man who runs
the Crest House and spent a great deal of time extolling the virtues of
eco-tourism; he said [the owner of the Crest
House may not be aware of] the value of birders. I will be writing
letters to both, thanking them for allowing the feeding, and pointing
out that we spent money at the Crest House and in the community.
We saw four groups of finches come in before we left at 1:30. I would
estimate the first was 8-10 birds, with several Gray-crowned and
Brown-capped, and one Hepburn's. The next group was 10-15 birds and we
first beautiful Blacks! The third group was again 8-10 birds, with the
Hepburn's again and mostly Gray-crowned. The fourth group was well over
75 birds and had some of everything! It was an amazing frenzy of motion
and we're so glad we got the better looks at the earlier, smaller
groups. By 1:30, there were lots of folks climbing the hill next to the
feeder, and the birds were very spooky and didn't stay long.
And YES, we got exactly ONE Juniper Titmouse on the way down. We saw
activity in the trees along the road and stopped by what turned out to
be a closed "Tinkertown Museum" [at about the 1 mile mark of Crest
Road, see Mile By Mile
Guide to the Crest
Road -- KS]. We got several species there, and one titmouse. We got
a Townsend's Solitaire and Western Bluebirds a little further down that
We spend all of Sunday at the fabulous Bosque del Apache NWR, and
Monday morning at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park.
We did not see the Eurasian Wigeon (who hasn't been seen in quite
awhile, apparently), but we saw thousands of Sandhill Cranes and geese.
I also got my life-bird American Dipper at Bosque!
Thanks again for all the great info. I already have four co-members of
my Audubon chapter who want me to lead them on this same trip next
and Karen Halvorson are non-birding US Forest Service volunteers
who help us keep the Rosy-Finch feeders filled.
On the day we oriented them to their duties, a large flock
descended to perch on a tree, looking rather non-descript in the
distance. They were amazed when they borrowed my binoculars for
their first view of the finches, and immediately noted the differences
between the species. Their commendable tenacity in accomplishing their
mission is evidenced by this note (February 15, 2003):
Subj: Finches Galore!
Hi, Ken and Marylou!! went up to feed the birds this a.m. and
were pleasantly surprised by a group of men (birders) from
pennsylvania. they were pretty serious about their birding
expedition and claimed to have seen about 125 finches at about
0815. Wow!! they did not distinguish between
roseys and cassins. [meaning that they did not see
any Cassin's Finches-- KS] oh - and they were holding a couple of rosey
finch tee-shirts!! (don't know if they
bought them or not)
upper feeder was iced shut, so David and I climbed out the window onto
deck and chipped away the ice until we could open the door! All
feeders had quite a bit of seed, but were frozen over, so we removed
ice and snow and put a little more seed in each one.
the owl, but the clouds were so thick that he almost would've had to be
on the hood of our car to see him!
and happy belated Valentines day, Karen
Dave DeReamus, compiler of the
Easton, Pennsylvania Birdline sent on
February 19, 2003 this after seeing the Halvorsons' post:
Hi Ken and Mary Lou,
It was interesting to read the
message about the eight birders from Pennsylvania who visited Sandia
Crest on the 15th since I was one of those eight. To clarify things, we
did have a group of about 125 Rosy Finches fly in to the hanging feeder
at 8:15 AM. That number included at least 3 "Hepburn's". The birds then
left the hanging feeder and went to the lower feeder by the corner of
the building. They seemed to come in to feed about every 15 to 20
minutes up until when we left at around 10:30.
Also seen at the hanging feeder were
Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, Hairy
Woodpecker, and Gray-headed Junco. We did not see Cassin's Finch; and
we did not find the Pygmy-Owl at the Ski Area. Maybe the fog
had something to do with that.
Thanks for the informative Website.
Duncan Himes arrived at the Crest
House on January 31, only 10 minutes
after a flock departed, at 9:30 AM. He patiently waited until
11:20 when they mobbed the deck feeder.
Dear Schneiders: Thank you so much for all your help in identifying and
out the rosy-finches at Sandia Crest on Friday--it was a memorable
birding experience--so unusual the way the birds enter
and exit the feeders. Always
so good to have local expert help and conversation, the fraternity of
birding. Thank you for all you are doing to help in
awareness and appreciation
of the local birds.
Sincerely, Duncan Himes of Mesa Arizona
Renee Davis writes from New York
(January 23, 2003):
I want to
for doing a great job for the birding community. I live in New York and
would give anything to see a Rosy-Finch. My friend was returning from
the ABA conference at the Saltan Sea in California and I heard about
your . web site Needless to say I sent her well out of her way to see
your Rosy-Finches. I havn't heard from her yet, I hope she got them.
Your posts and webweb site
help alot for us "chasers" Thank-you again for bringing the reality to
Gavin Bieber from Tucson found the
best viewing to be in the morning,
when he saw a flock of 75 Rosy-Finches. His post to the AZ/NM RBA
(January 20, 2003):
Barry McCormick, Denis Wright, Larry
Clait Braun and I just completed our trip to Sandia Crest and Bosque
del Apache NWR in New Mexico. We left Tucson at 7am Saturday and
by 3:30 were at
the crest house on Sandia crest.
We watched the feeders from the
comforts of the
house and were rewarded with views of a single Black and a single
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch. We noted in the log that the bulk of the
sightings and the largest numbers of Rosy-Finches seemed to occur in
the morning and we decided to return the next day. This turned
out to be a great idea, as on Sunday morning we were treated to very
close views of about 75 birds of all three Rosy-Finch species (and a
single Hepburn's race Gray-crowned). Also present at the crest
house were red and white breasted nuthatches, a large flock of Cassin's
finches (30), several Steller's Jays, a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers,
roughly two dozen Mountain Chickadees and a pair of Common
Ravens. We did not manage to locate the Norther Pygmy-owl
that is being reported sporadically from the parking lot below the ski
area (around mile marker 7), but were treated to nice views of a
Townsend's Solitaire in the same general
...All in all a great trip, and a
drive from Tucson. I'd encourage anyone who is in "need" of
Rosy-Finches to consider a trip up this winter. The weather was
fantastically warm (although very windy on Saturday afternoon), and
there is little snow on the ground on the crest. The workers at
the crest house seemed to think that the numbers of finches have been
dropping as the snow has been melting.
Sartor (Sandy) Williams is Editor of
New Mexico Ornithological
Society Field Notes and Chair of the New Mexico Bird Records
Committee. He provided the above historical perspective on
the Rosy-Finch presence at Sandia Crest and the New Mexico summer range
of the Brown-capped species (January 10, 2003):
I wanted to compliment you for your
in publicizing the Rosy-Finches wintering at Sandia Crest as well as in
organizing the feeding effort there. The web page is
certainly spreading the word, and attracting lots of folks to New
Mexico to see the birds. I'm especially pleased to read about the
positive economic benefits to NM from birders traveling here to see the
birds. This is the sort of "non-consumptive" wildlife use that
this state (including the State Dept of Game & Fish)
needs to begin to appreciate. Many of us with interests in
"non-game" birds and other wildlife are hoping that with a new
Governor, a new State Game Commission, and some fresh direction in the
state wildlife agency, these kinds of issues will receive proper
attention... [Sandy's discussion of the history of the Rosy-Finch at Sandia Crest and in New Mexico may be found above.
Again, my congratulations for doing
a fine job
of spreading the word about the Sandia Crest Rosy-Finches.
[Many New Mexico birders were very
disappointed when the previous Governor vetoed a bill that permitted
issuance of special "non-game" NM license plates. This would have
provided a way for non-consumptive (non-hunting) users to contribute to
non-game wildlife conservation in NM. Maybe the time is right for
us to renew the call for non-game license plates. Ken--
March 31, 2003: FLASH! Thanks to our new Governor, this is
now law! ]
Tom Headley saw the Northern
Pygmy-owl from the Rosy-Finch viewing site
(the deck on the west side of the Crest House) on January 5, 2003:
I and another birder saw the
this afternoon about 3:30 pm in the small stand of short aspens
just west of the SE deck of the crest house. We located him after
noticing a flock of ~10 agitated mountain chickadees in the tops of the
aspens. He was about 30 feet from the deck and in the open on a branch
about 8 ft above ground. We pointed him out to another pair of
Tom Headley of Albuquerque
Pat Newman of Chicago reported a
Northern Pygmy-owl on December 31, 2002
Hi Ken & MaryLou,
We really appreciated your kindness
us the other birding sites. After you left us at Monticello,
I walked across to the other side of the valley. I did not
see the rufous crowned sparrows. I did find a small flock
of mountain chickadees and had an up close and personal look at a ruby
crowned kinglet as it was feeding in a bush about 3 feet in front
of me. Yvonne and I drove back up the mountain and arrived at the
pygmy owl site at about 3:30. We had decided we would stay
there until sunset. It was worth the wait. The owl
first appeared on the utility line closest to the ski area parking lot
and then flew to the other side of the road. We watched it
for about 10 minutes...
Here is some practical advice that
Jerry Blinn of Placitas, NM posted
newsgroup on December 30,
2002. He emphasized the
distinction between Sandia Peak (the top of the ski run served only by
the Sandia Peak Tram), and the Crest, accessible only by road:
Subject: Rosy-Finch Heaven
I have received requests for more
about the Rosy Finches at Sandia Crest; what the heck is Sandia Crest?
and do you
need a snowmobile or ski-lift to get there .
. . ?
Sandia Crest is an uplift mountain,
face of which forms the eastern boundary of
Albuquerque, NM, rising abruptly (a gross understatement) from about
6,000 feet to 10,678 feet.
The Crest's most famous attraction
is a tram
which climbs up the west face of the crest -- a simply wonderful,
hair-raising, experience. But it's not ~too~ hair-raising -- I've never
seen anybody faint, cry, or get sick, although I've seen a few move to
the middle of the car at the second tower. If you visit
Albuquerque, you ~must~ take the tram ride - period. Got that?
Alas, Rosy-Finches are not to be
found at the
top of the tram ride, in spite of the wonderful restaurant and bar
there. (Be careful; 86.8 booze is about 120.0 at 10,678 feet.)
To see Rosy-Finches, you need to
drive east on
I-40, through Tijeras Canyon, and then north around the more gentle
back side of the Crest. Then you drive up past the ski-run, all
the way to the top, where you will find parking and the Crest
House (with green chile cheeseburgers; a plethora of doo-dads, gizmos,
and genuine simulated artifacts; and a thousand-mile view). The
road is paved all the way, and is heavily, and quickly, plowed and
sanded after snows. If it has snowed recently, you should make
inquiries as to the current road condition. Dress warmly -- it is
frequently (usually?) windy up there -- you should subtract, on
average, 3.5 degrees temperature per thousand feet of elevation from
Albuquerque, ~16 degrees difference. In recent years, the
finches have been present all winter. The following link
[referring to this Web site] will provide as much information as you
could possibly need -- they've done a great job...
Greg Keller praised the creature
comforts of birding from the picture
windows at the Crest House in his post to the AZ-NM Rare Bird Alert
newsgroup on December 16, 2002. As I have mentioned, the early
winter birds tend to come and go in large flocks that visit every 30-60
minutes; by mid-February they may be around most of the time in smaller
Thanks in large part to the notes
sent to the
list by Ken Schneider, I decided to make the trek from eastern NM to
Sandia Crest Sunday afternoon [December 15]. After
waiting for a little over an hour and just before heading back to my
car disappointed, a swirling flock of approximately 60 rosy finches
landed on one of the feeders, fed frantically for 4-5 minutes, and took
off again just as quickly as they arrived. All three species were
present, though most appeared to be black. As has been mentioned
previously, patience is required, and it is worth it.
Also observed from the comforts of
were: Steller's jays (5), Mountain chickadees (7-8), Dark-eyed juncos
(4), Cassin's finches (10), White-breasted nuthatches (2), Red-breasted
If you haven't gone yet, the view
breath-taking and the chili is warm.
Robert Kyse, who recently moved from
New Jersey to Rio Rancho, NM
writes (7 DEC 2002):
Ken and Mary Lou,
I went to Sandia mountain
today between 11
AM and 3 PM and sighted five life birds thanks to the
information on your internet site. All the Finches you predicted were
there: Black, Brown-capped and two variants of Gray-crowned -
Interior and Coastal (Hepburn's) as shown in Sibley. Additionally,
sighted the Northern Pygmy-Owl on the wire across from the ski
area parking lot as advertised. I didn't expect to see anything given
my arrival time but needless to say, it turned out to be a great day.
Joan Silagy of Leesport, PA
documented the earliest-ever arrival (since
we started keeping records in
1999) of the Rosy-Finches to the Crest, on November 19, 2002. She
also saw all three species at the 10K Trailhead the same day. Cathy
Pasterczyk of Albuquerque was the first to document that the
rosy-finches were using the hanging feeder just 3 feet off the new
deck, on November 30, with an excellent photo.
She also provided a photo of the lower feeder being mobbed by all three