Sandia Crest Trip Report- January 29-30

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Sandia Crest Trip Report- January 29-30

Doug, from Dallas,  sent this trip report. As he points out, this winter only the deck feeder is in operation. It is true that, if the Crest House is not open, it is very difficult to see the feeder.

Your photos are excellent, Doug! And thank you for your donation of seed. While the banders seem not to have trouble identifying them in hand, those "intermediate" plumaged Rosies with buffy feather tips and equivocal crowns can be vexing! I think many turn out to be hatch-year birds, perhaps females, and often are the Brown-capped species.

I did not hear about the Crest House being closed this past Friday. They had to shut down over the previous weekend because of the heavy snow. If I learn of any change to their regular schedule, which is to be open 7 days a week, I will certainly let everyone know.

Sometimes, they do have to close without warning if sufficient staff fail to report for duty for one reason or another. They actually run two separate operations in one facility. To provide adequate service to customers, and for security reasons they cannot open if any area is unsupervised.

Thanks so much for the trip report. No one has reported seeing any Hepburn's race of the Gray-crowned since one was present at the feeder a couple of times in December. The species mix can be extremely erratic and seems unpredictable.


My father and I visited Sandia Crest on Friday, January 29th and Saturday, January 30th (this past weekend).  Both days were clear blue skies, light winds and mild temperatures.  There is a LOT of snow at the top and trekking around is very difficult but the top is plowed and the birds were there.  On both days, we saw about 150-200 birds.  About half were Blacks with the remainder being Brown-capped and a sprinkling of Gray-crowned.  We searched the flocks for two full days but found nothing that was a definitive Hepburnā€™s subspecies.  There are many young and intermediate birds that were beyond our identification skills.  Some of these young birds were entirely pale except for some rosy underneath.

The Crest house was closed on Friday (is it only open on weekends now?) but the weather was nice enough to allow us to stand outside and wait for the birds.  If the weather had been inclement, this would not have been possible.  When the House is closed, there is no view of the feeder.  The lower feeder is not up this year, so the only feeder is on the balcony.  This feeder is only viewable from inside Crest House.  When they are closed, it is a challenge to see anything.

On Saturday, they were open and we partook of the lunch special.  We also brought them some seed as a donation.  They accepted it without question.

Other birds of note included a Merlin and (later) a half-dozen Red Crossbills along the road just before the Crest House.

I have posted a few photos from the visit to FaceBook at: