By Eileen Richardson

In open parklands of the American West, brilliant blue-and-rust Western Bluebirds sit on low perches and swoop lightly to the ground to catch insects. Deep blue, rusty, and white, males are considerably brighter than the gray-brown, blue-tinged females. Male Western Bluebirds are shiny blue above with rust-orange extending from a vest on the breast onto the upper back. Females are gray-buff with a pale orange wash on the breast and blue tints to the wings and tail. The throat is blue in males and gray-buff in females, and the lower belly is whitish.

Western Bluebirds are small thrushes that usually perch upright. They are stocky with thin, straight bills and fairly short tails. This small thrush nests in holes in trees or nest boxes and often gathers in small flocks to feed on insects or berries, giving their quiet, chortling calls.

Read more: Western Bluebirds Breeding Time is Coming

By Eileen Richardson

The Juniper Titmouse is a plain gray bird with a prominent black eye and a crest of gray feathers on its head. It is a small songbird, but the long body, short neck, and medium-long tail makes it appear bigger than it is. A short crest gives the fairly large head a pointed silhouette. The short bill is fairly thick and round.

They mate for life and like other members of the chickadee family the Juniper Titmouse sticks around all winter and will come to seed and suet feeders. In the fall, they stash seeds in the crevices of tree bark to eat later. They are partial to pinyon nuts. New Mexico is the perfect habitat for this bird as they favor pinyon and juniper woodlands of the interior west. The Juniper Titmouse occurs in pinyon pine and juniper woodlands from about 2,250-8,000 feet. These cavity-nesting birds tend to nest in mature woodlands, where older pinyon and juniper trees offer a ready supply of cavities for nesting.

Read more: Juniper Titmouse

By Eileen Richardson

Heated birdbaths are a great way to provide the birds a source of water when other water sources have frozen over. When you have a heated birdbath and everywhere that normally is a water source is frozen, you attract more and varied species. So even thru winter you get the opportunities others don’t. A heated birdbath provides a source of drinking water which is very important in the dry Winter. It also is a birdbath which I have seen is a popular sort of sauna for our feathered friends.
Here are Four Tips for Your Winter Heated Birdbath:

Read more: 3 Tips for your Heated Birdbath

By Eileen Richardson

Bird watching today differs immensely from Audubon’s time. Over the centuries technological advances have changed the hobby of birdwatching several times over. Opera glasses and notepads replaced shotguns and burlap bags used by Audubon. By the middle of the 20th century, birders were equipped with the first field guides and better, lighter, more affordable binoculars.

 And today, birders are heading out with 50-megapixel image-stabilized super-telephoto zoom cameras and precision-honed, multi-coated, ultra-light-weight binoculars… and paper field guides, the technology of which hasn’t changed significantly since their inception nearly a century ago.

So take a look at some of the apps described below and bring your smartphone with one or more of these apps to help you along. Make sure you have a charger on hand and a way to charge your phone because these apps will drain your battery.

Read more: Bird Watching Apps and Field Guides

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count give scientists important data that they need to measure the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. This year marks the 117th year of the count. It started on Christmas Day in 1900 when Audubon Society ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed counting birds rather than hunting them. His suggestion was an effort to forge a new tradition. Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition called the "side hunt", where hunters would choose sides and whichever group returned with the biggest pile of dead birds and other animals won.

Read more: The Audubon Christmas Bird Count

 By Eileen Richardson

The Santa Fe Raptor Center is a registered nonprofit 501 ( c ) (3) organization that relies on private contributions to finance wildlife care.

The Santa Fe Raptor Center has an educational program that serves the community that supports it. The beauty of Santa Fe is enhanced by Red Tailed Hawks soaring in our skies and Great Horned Owls hooting in our parks. The Center's goal is to establish a working relationship with Santa Fe area grade schools, high schools, and colleges and to cooperatively partner on projects that inspire appreciation, understanding, and respect for the wildlife around us.

Read more: Santa Fe Raptor Center

By Eileen Richardson

These masked beauties can be seen now in parts of New Mexico. They enjoy juniper berries so look for them around juniper trees.

The Cedar Waxwing is a silky, shiny collection of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow, accented with a subdued crest, rakish black mask, and brilliant-red wax droplets on the wing feathers. The red droplets on their wings give them their name.

In fall these birds gather by the hundreds to eat berries, filling the air with their high, thin, whistles. Since they are such social birds they usually are seen in large flocks. Occasionally you may see a line of waxwings perched on a branch passing a berry back and forth, from bill to bill, until one of them swallows it.

Except when nesting, almost always they forage in flocks. Sometimes these birds hover briefly while plucking berries or taking insects from foliage. They also often catch insects in mid-air.

Read more: Waxwings are Here!

By Eileen Richardson

First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. Though they’re sometimes resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer. For much of the year, they wheel through the sky and mob lawns in big, noisy flocks.

Read more: European Starlings Came to Visit Santa Fe

By Eileen Richardson

The birds who stay around in New Mexico in the Winter need water and food. Although there are hoarders who have collected and stored food in the Fall to get them thru the Winter.
Birds like chickadees, Jays, and nuthatches all store food for later use but the Clark's Nutcracker is definitely the best at it. A Clark's Nutcracker may store more than 30,000 pinyon pine seeds during a single season, placing them in caches with 4-5 seeds each.

Pinyon Jays have an expandable esophagus which allows them to store as many as 40 unshelled pine seeds at a time. Steller's Jays have a smaller storage capacity though are also a hoarder. Unlike other jays, Pinyon Jays work with their mate to hide food items, therefore, both of them know the location of their hidden supply of food.
Acorn Woodpeckers store acorns in dead trunks of trees.

Read more: Winter Care for Wild Birds
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