[Tweeters] Bird Note Clarification/New Mexico birding PSA

Mason Flint masonflint at outlook.com
Tue Mar 14 12:22:10 PDT 2017

Hi everyone -

Like most of you, I'm a big fan of Bird Note. I love listening every morning on KUOW. However, today's episode on the Elf Owl raised my hackles...or perhaps I should say ruffled my feathers. (Tongue somewhat firmly in cheek)

Today's episode included the following:

"Elf Owls live in woodlands and desert cactus habitats in southwest Texas and southern Arizona."

Bird Note, and many birders in general, seem to forget that there is a very birdy state that sits between Texas and Arizona that is also summer home to Elf Owls: New Mexico.

In fact, many of you may be surprised to know that New Mexico trails only California, Texas and Arizona in number of bird species and is comfortably ahead of Washington and other famously birdy states including Florida. For the record, according to the most up-to-date checklists the top 10 states for bird diversity are:

California: 666
Texas: 646
Arizona: 555
New Mexico: 544
Oregon: 536
Florida: 516
Washington: 515
Alaska: 514
Colorado: 499
Massachusetts: 499

I can understand why some birders tend to forget about New Mexico. The concentration of birds in the SE corner of Arizona and parts of Texas and relatively easy access from large cities and airports is a bonus. But I encourage you all to consider New Mexico in your birding adventures. New Mexico is a beautiful state with incredible biological diversity, geologic interest, and cultural treasures that rival anything you'll find in Arizona or Texas. And, unlike Arizona and Texas, New Mexico didn't vote for he who shall not be named in the last election.

Believe it or not, it's not all cactus and tumbleweed. Check the link below for some of my amateurish photos of New Mexico including quite a few birds. I'm purposefully skewing in favor of Northern New Mexico because my family has a cabin on the Rio de Los Pinos River way up by the Colorado border (here https://goo.gl/maps/X8KgRpWuoSq). At 8500', we get deep snow in winter, warm days and cool nights in summer and great birding. Among other claims to fame, our cabin is the only location where I've seen Rose-breasted, Pine, Black-headed, and Evening Grosbeak and Blue Grosbeak within a few miles. Ok, I know that's mixing genera but still... New Mexico also has the only location I know of where you can reliably see Gray-crowned, Brown-capped, and Black Rosy-Finch.

New Mexico rocks - for birding and otherwise. More information on New Mexico birding can be found at nmbirds.org.

My photos to whet your thirst: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AikEYlGFSngczp9RE984DxnGTS7ucg

Mason Flint
Born/bred in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Still learning to cope with rain in Bellevue, Washington after 25 years

PS. I politely passed this feedback on to the awesome Bird Note crew already. :)

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