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Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico

If you’re smart, you’ve made the choice to stay at home the past few weeks and you’ll be patient enough to stay at home a few weeks more. Our collective health is far more important that money. No life. No economy. We’ve limited our comings and goings to the public lands within thirty to forty miles of our home here in Taos, New Mexico. When it comes to one of my favorite activities, then, I’m all about bird watching Rio Fernando Wetlands.

Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico
Spinus tristis – American Goldfinch

All photos taken in the Rio Fernando Wetlands

The Rio Fernando Wetlands are a combined area totaling about 30-acres on the southwest side of Taos, not far from the center of town. Town of Taos-owned Fred Baca Park and Taos Land Trust owned Rio Fernando Park, make up the popular Ebird hotspot.

Check out the bird species listing for Rio Fernando Wetlands

Taos County as a whole has on record 276 bird species. The Río Fernando wetlands hot spot has 186 species—two-thirds of the species that have been recorded in the whole county.

In 2015 the Taos Land Trust, a conservation organization, purchased the former Romo Farm—20 acres in the heart of Taos. Abandoned for 30-some years, the farm was a mess of weeds, barbed wire, and trash. The river had worn into channels that failed to slow the healthy flow of water. Invasive plants thrived. Over the past four years, the land trust, its partners, and teams of volunteers have carefully restored the land, returning the river to its natural course and re-growing the wetlands.

Passerina caerulea – Blue Grosbeak

The area is not all wetlands. On the Rio Fernando Park section there are sections of upland fields and forests that are also rich with bird life. On the Fred Baca side, a large public park surrounds the wetlands section on three sides. Large cottonwood trees along the perimeter of the park often hosts hawks and owls. The wetlands on the Fred Baca side are best seen via a boardwalk and two viewing platforms.

Rio Fernando Park hosts both a half-mile loop trail around the entire park and a quarter mile wetlands trail and traces the edge of the wetlands.

Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico
Sitta carolinensis – White-breasted Nuthatch

The Rio Fernando Wetlands are also rich in other wildlife. At least one beaver family has made its home in Fred Baca Park while another family calls a section of the creek in Rio Fernando Park, home-base. Coyote, bats and a wide-array of other creatures call the are home.

Agelaius phoeniceus – Red-winged Black Bird

If you go bird watching Rio Fernando Wetlands:

  • The Rio Fernando Wetlands are free to access.
  • Parking is best at Rio Fernando Park. The parking lot is open from 8am to 8pm during the summer and 8am to 5pm in the winter. Rio Fernando park is accessed by a small bridge over the Rio Fernando and then via a gate near the boardwalk.
  • Please remember that your dog must be on leash at all times in both Rio Fernando and Fred Baca parks. Please also keep your pet out of the wetlands as this disturbs the wildlife and negatively impacts water quality (E.coli associated with dogs has been found in the Rio Fernando). Please also pick up after your dog. Trash cans and doggy bags are provided.
  • Restrooms are located in Fred Baca Park.
  • Water is not available, bring your own.
  • Mosquitos are common in the summer
  • The boardwalk is often icy and dangerous in the winter.
Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico
Archilochus alexandri – Female Black-chinned hummingbird on nest

Please support the work that Taos Land Trust does to restore and protect this area with a donation. The Rio Fernando Collaborative is working to restore the entire watershed.

Spinus tristis – American Goldfinch

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Archilochus alexandri – Female (or immature male) Black-chinned hummingbird

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Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico
Regulus calendula – Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Agelaius phoeniceus – Red-winged Black Bird

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Nycticorax nycticorax – Black-crowned Night Heron

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Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico
Melospiza melodia – Song Sparrow

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Setophaga coronata – Myrtle subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler

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Dumetella carolinensis – Gray Catbird

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Bird Watching Rio Fernando Wetlands in Taos New Mexico
Colaptes auratus – Northern Flicker

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Setophaga coronata – Myrtle subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler

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Icteriidae – Yellow Breasted Chat

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