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Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge

Birding in New Mexico

Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge
Important Bird Area
Maxwell, New Mexico 87728
Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge webpage
Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge Important Bird Area webpage
Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge map

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Colfax County

Maxwell NWR
Coordinates: 36.5688651, -104.5815831
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Maxwell NWR–Headquarters
Coordinates: 36.5690629, -104.5865929
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Maxwell NWR–Lake 12
Coordinates: 36.5629103, -104.5958948
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Maxwell NWR–Lake 13
Coordinates: 36.5810737, -104.5828056
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Maxwell NWR–North Lake 13 Viewing Area
Coordinates: 36.5887267, -104.5773503
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Maxwell NWR–North Lake 14 Viewing Area
Coordinates: 36.5818508, -104.5666717
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Maxwell NWR–Road A-2 Woodlot
Coordinates: 36.5662106, -104.5647552
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About Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge
Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge is designated as an Important Bird Area webpage

The Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge presents visitors with a unique wildlife viewing experience. Visitors are treated to year-round views of hawks, owls, eagles, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and black-tailed prairie dogs.

Located in northeastern New Mexico at an elevation of 6050 feet, Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 3,699 acres of short-grass prairie, playa lakes, woodlots, wetlands, and crop fields. The refuge sits in an open basin surrounded by high mesas to the northeast and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west. Since 1965 this landscape has been managed for the benefit of wildlife and has provided a feeding and resting habitat for migratory birds.

Birders and wildlife watchers can challenge themselves by attempting to check off all 289 species of birds found on the refuge. American kestrels, wild turkeys, and Wilson’s phalaropes are a few of the common species you will enjoy seeing on Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge.

Mid-October on the refuge is generally the peak fall migration of sandhill cranes, geese, and ducks. However, any time of year you are likely to see a diversity of wildlife. Wildlife watching is generally best during the morning and at dusk when wildlife is most active.
From Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge webpage

Rangeland on the refuge is rolling prairie and reclaimed farmland containing a variety of grasses including blue grama, galleta, sand dropseed, threeawn, and buffalo grass, as well as fourwing saltbush and cactus. Lakes on the refuge provide 700 acres of waterfowl roosting and feeding habitat. Wet years bring dense shoreline vegetation, while the lakes may disappear in dry years.

The refuge lakes and associated Stubblefield Lake are primarily for water storage for irrigation purposes for surrounding ranches and are managed by the local water manager. The refuge owns the surrounding grassland but not the water making water management impossible. Stubblefield Lake is privately owned. Fishing is allowed on some areas of the refuge.

Directions: From Raton, take I-25 south to Maxwell, go north on State Highway 445 .8 mile and west on State Highway 505 approximately 2.5 miles. Turn north at the entrance sign (1.5 miles to headquarters).

Large numbers of waterfowl migrate through the refuge and depending on water conditions (ice) may winter at the refuge. Often 100+ shorebirds can be found on any one day. This is an important and reliable site for Prairie Falcon, Willow Flycatcher, Dickcissel, Savannah, Grasshopper, and Cassin’s Sparrow. Long-billed Curlew breeds in surrounding grassland. The state’s largest known population of Eastern Kingbird breeds in this area. Burrowing Owl can be found in the prairie dog colonies. This can be an important area for wintering and migrating raptors, though no season-long monitoring has taken place.
From Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge Important Bird Area webpage

Map adapted from © OpenStreetMap contributors