Tag Archives: Bird Sanctuary

10 Things I Learned During the First Year of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary

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This month marks the one year anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary, and as I reminisce over the last twelve months, I’m reminded of how blessed we have been.  Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker.  We have several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders, AND we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month.

Getting to experience the birds and wildlife every day is a special treat but the real gift lies in the wisdom I’ve acquired in such a short time.  Nature has its music for those who will listen and I’ve done my share of listening.  Here’s what I’ve learned in the process:

  1. The date and time stamp on the trail cam matters in keeping good records.
  2. Birds will not set a limit on how much food I should provide them, so I have to.
  3. Indoor window clings are critical in avoiding aviary window strikes.
  4. When time or resources are limited, water is more important than food.
  5. Having a contact at the local US Fish and Wildlife Service is really helpful.
  6. Photographs are required to support a claim of wildlife or bird species.
  7. There will be injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife and knowing in advance what to do when I find them will reduce stress – for me and for the wildlife.
  8. Volunteering at a local wildlife rescue organization is an ideal hands-on learning experience.
  9. The traffic patterns in my habitat may not match the information in various field guides, and that’s okay.
  10. Knowing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 will help keep me out of jail.

I should probably write a book about everything I’ve learned this past year, but for now this is my short list.  And if you’re interested in hearing the details around each of these ten learnings, check back here over the next several weeks. My goal is to elaborate on each and every one of these in greater detail.  In the meantime… happy birding!Special care ad

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat!

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One year ago this month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized me and my husband for having successfully certified our Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program.  This month, we are celebrating the habitat’s one year anniversary! Woo hoo!

Truth is, we certified our mountainous habitat in response to the “Dog Head” fire that consumed nearly 18,000 acres in June of last year.  We had experienced a sudden influx of both birds and wildlife immediately after the fire and we wanted to do our part to create a safe haven for them.  In fact, in just this past year alone, we’ve had 32 different bird species come through our habitat, many of which have nested and are now raising young.

Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker. We provide for the wild birds with several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders. And we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month! But providing water is the most critical aspect of what we do (as you’ve heard me say before) because a bird will die from dehydration before it will die from starvation, especially during critical winter months or droughts when water is scarce.

Even wild mammals need water, as evidenced by several photographs I took this summer of a mule deer drinking water from our birdbath out back.  (That was terribly exciting to watch!) Other mammals frequenting our wildlife habitat include Abert’s and rock squirrels, brush and cottontail bunnies, coyotes, and a pair of wolves.

In the midst of the worldly drama around us, we’re grateful to have nature as a form of distraction.  The beauty and grace of our wildlife and birds delight us daily, reminding us of the splendor of God’s creation.  Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us, for your encouragement along the way, and for your support of our efforts.

Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary: Every Birder’s Paradise

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My husband treated me to a weekend trip to Santa Fe for our wedding anniversary, and we took a drive to the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary, Audubon’s leading education facility and wildlife sanctuary in New Mexico.   What a find!

Located in Santa Fe, the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary encompasses 135 acres of gorgeous landscapes and wildlife. Bounded by thousands of acres of National Forest and Santa Fe River Watershed land, the Center and Sanctuary provides a peaceful place for native plants, a variety of local wildlife, and visitors. Of special note is the approximately 190 species of birds that can be found in or over the various ecosystems of this sanctuary. (That was what intrigued me most!)

My husband and I stopped in on a Sunday, and while the Nature Store and facilities were closed, we were able to walk through the gardens and larger trail system. Of historic interest, we learned that Randall Davey, a vanguard of modern art, was an important part of the Santa Fe Art Colony. He was known as a skilled painter, printmaker, and sculptor who successfully practiced his art in his studio until his death in 1964. The Davey family gifted the property to the National Audubon Society in 1983 as a wildlife sanctuary, to be preserved and used as an educational, cultural, and historical monument.

We were there for a quick visit, but I spotted a number of finches and juncos, two white-breasted nuthatch, and a gorgeous young Cooper’s Hawk. I was equally delighted to have spotted several black-billed magpies and a dozen or so frenzied bushtits, two species I was able to add to my Life List.  Woo Hoo!



Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk






The garden itself was gorgeous, with both native and provided food and water sources, and there were picnic benches out on the lawn. We definitely plan to go back when we can spend a little more time there, and we’ll even pack a lunch to bring with us.

Special Note: The facilities are closed on Sundays. (Yep, facilities includes bathrooms, which we discovered quite quickly.  Doh!)

If you’re in the area and are looking for a new birding adventure, I give this place 2 thumbs up!

(See below for more pictures.)