eBird Hotspots Where to Go Birding

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Birding in New Mexico

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Important Bird Area
Roswell, New Mexico 88201
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge webpage
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Important Bird Area webpage
Friends of Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge webpage
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge map

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Chaves County

Bitter Lake NWR
Coordinates: 33.4512089, -104.3998146
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Bitter Lake NWR–Farm (NMAR)
Coordinates: 33.3923944, -104.4151783
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Bitter Lake NWR–OxBow
Coordinates: 33.416476, -104.408372
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Bitter Lake NWR–Pajaro Bird Blind
Coordinates: 33.4397321, -104.40144
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Bitter Lake NWR–Parking Between Units 5 & 6
Coordinates: 33.416943, -104.414148
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Bitter Lake NWR–Sandhill Crane Overlook
Coordinates: 33.4466425, -104.4048895
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Bitter Lake NWR–Visitor Center
Coordinates: 33.4561232, -104.4018477
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About Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Bittle Lake National Wildlife Refuge has been designated as an Important Bird Area.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge protects and provides habitat for some of New Mexico’s most rare and unusual creatures such as the least shrew, Noel’s amphipod, least tern, Pecos sunflower, and Roswell spring snail.

Located where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Southern Plains, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the more biologically significant wetland areas of the Pecos River watershed system. Established in 1937 to provide wintering habitat for migratory birds, the refuge plays a crucial role in the conservation of wetlands in the desert Southwest.

Bitter Lake is an ecological crossroad where the Chihuahuan Desert meets short grass prairie, the Pecos River and the Roswell artesian basin. The blending of these different ecological conditions has created some unusual biological conditions. Here you will find wetland-dependent species interacting with desert creatures.

The abundant water supply draws a documented 357 species of birds to the refuge. This in addition to the 59 species of mammals, more than 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, 24 types of fish, and more than 100 species of dragonflies and damselflies are found in this oasis.

The refuge’s wetlands provide habitat for thousands of migrating lesser sandhill cranes, Ross and snow geese, and about 20 duck species, including northern pintails, mallards, canvasbacks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, and four species of teal; the cinnamon, American, green and blue-wing, and blue-wing.

Four short trails and two longer hiking trails are available adjacent to the Refuge Headquarters and Wildlife Drive.

Butterfly Trail
Near the Headquarters, this 0.25 mile trail provides interpretive information about butterflies and landscaping to attract these beautiful insects. This is a perfect location to view native vegetation.

Wildlife Drive/Auto Tour Loop
The eight-mile wildlife drive is one of the best ways to observe wildlife. Take advantage of the overlooks to get great views of flocks of Lesser sandhill cranes and Ross’ and snow geese, or to spot the coyotes and red-tail hawks crisscrossing the wetlands Drive slowly and watch for basking spiny softshell turtles, coachwhip snakes, and checkered whiptail lizards.

Oxbow Trail
About 4 miles from the Refuge headquarters office off the auto tour route, this trail used to be connected to the Pecos River. The deepwater channel is an excellent location for bird watching and is approximately two miles long.

Desert Upland Trail
This 1-mile trail takes you through an area that hosts an assortment of native plant species. Shrubs and thicket areas provide excellent quail and songbird viewing.

Dragonfly Trail
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is famous for supporting one of the most diverse populations of dragonflies and damselflies in North America. Just less than one mile on the wildlife drive, you can enjoy dragonfly watching on this trail.

The North Tract (12,160 acres) of the refuge, including the wilderness area, is open to hiking and horseback riding.
From Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge webpage