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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge–Main 2-Way Road (East-West)

Birding in New Mexico

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Main 2-Way Road

San Antonio, New Mexico 87832
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge website
Friends of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge website
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Important Bird Area (Audubon) website
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge map

Also, see Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

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Bosque del Apache NWR–Main 2-Way Road (East-West)
Coordinates: 33.7991685, -106.8844113
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Photos by John Montgomery

Tips for birding Main 2-Way Road
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Auto Tour Loop

To enter the Auto Tour Loop area, you turn east from NM-1. Having made this turn, you are now on the Main 2-Way Road, where there is immediately a fee station on your left. If the fee station is closed, fees should be paid at the self-pay/information kiosk to your right. Regardless of whether the fee station is open, do pull up to the signage a few yards east of the self-pay area. Directly ahead of you is a bridge over the Elmendorf Ditch, and (barring excessive traffic) this is an excellent parking place from which to get out and check the ditch for waterfowl and wading birds. Birds here may be recorded for the overall Bosque del Apache NWR hotspot, the South Loop hotspot, or the Main 2-Way Road hotspot.

The mile-long East-West (or Bosque) Road extends directly ahead of you as you pass over the bridge, and as its hotspot name implies, is a two-way road, dead-ending at the parking area for two other hotspots – the Rio Viejo Trail and Bike Trail. Prior to its end, the road passes through a set of fields managed as seasonal wetlands. There are three large fields on the north, and three smaller fields on the south, as well as the Old Rookery on the south side.

One of the ditches used to fill and drain these fields is located to the north of the road. This is a common pattern throughout the Auto Tour Loop area: the public road has on one side a strip of land, then a ditch, with a maintenance road (not open to the public) on the side of the ditch away from the public road, and beyond that, a field, which if flooded appears to be a lake or pond but is rarely more than a few feet deep.

Less than halfway along the Bosque Road, on the north side, is a large observation deck: the Eagle Scout Deck. Like all decks on the Refuge, its accessibility is ADA compliant. In addition, this is the only deck (excepting the Boardwalk) that has picnic tables. Ironically, it is not only an excellent place from which to observe winter waterfowl and wading birds in the field to the northwest but also a prime location to observe bald eagles perched in the dead cottonwood at the field’s center.

Directly to the east of the Eagle Scout Deck is the entrance to the Seasonal Tour Road, only open April through September. Continuing east on the Bosque Road, you come to a ditch, which has “T’d” off the ditch to the north, and passes south under the road; water tends to flow north to south and east to west on the Refuge. This north-south ditch forms the western boundary of the Old Rookery, and observations on the ditch banks or within the triangular-shaped Rookery area may be specifically recorded for that hotspot.

At the east end of the Rookery, the Bosque Road is joined by the South Loop. You may not turn southwest onto the one-way South Loop but may turn north to begin the North Loop. Alternately, you may continue straight (east) about hundred yards into the parking area for the Rio Viejo Trail and Bike Trail, where vault restrooms are located.

The Main 2-Way Road hotspot is excellent for viewing waterfowl in the fall and winter, spring wading birds, and summer visitors such as Lark Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Blue Grosbeak.
From John Montgomery

About Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl, the refuge is well known for the thousands of sandhill cranes, geese, and other waterfowl that winter here each year.

Situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, the 57,331-acre refuge harbors a wild stretch of the Rio Grande, a ribbon of cottonwood and willow trees visible on the landscape from distant mesas.

Petroglyphs tell the story of ancient people that lived and hunted here. The river and its diversity of wildlife have drawn humans to this area for at least 11,000 years when humans migrated along this corridor, sometimes settling to hunt, fish and farm. Artifacts and stone tools found nearby tell us that nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters pursued herds of mammoth and bison in the valley.

Today, Bosque del Apache is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside and managed for the benefit of wildlife, habitat, and you.
From Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge website