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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

New Mexico in Winter

Santa Fe to the Bosque

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate.

Please note that non-US citizens are required by law to carry passports/visas with them at all times. We suggest you carry these documents with you in your day pack or some place that is easily accessible (not locked in your luggage). Because of proximity to the US-Mexico border, US Border Patrol checkpoints are possible on the roads and foreign nationals may be required to produce passports.

HEALTH: New Mexico presents no real hazards to the visiting birdwatcher but certain factors must be considered. In winter, storms and occasionally intense cold can occur. Morning temperatures are often in the teens so suitable winter clothing, especially a warm hat, parka, a sturdy pair of gloves and good footwear are essential. The key to remaining comfortable is to bring many layers of clothing, and to adjust through the day as needed. On our days in the mountains we will likely encounter snow, so waterproof hiking boots with good tread will come in very handy. Insects will not be a problem at this time of year.

As it may be difficult to replenish supplies of personal medications, please anticipate your needs and bring an adequate supply.

SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group.

If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.

PACE OF THE TOUR: This is a relatively relaxed tour, in part due to the short winter day, but full, with departures usually around 7 AM and returns to the hotel usually by 5 PM. Although we spend some time on foot, our walks are at a leisurely pace and on flat terrain. We will encounter a wide range of altitudes on this trip, as the Sandia Crest House is 10,678 ft. above sea level. Any activities undertaken by the group at higher altitudes will be paced in accordance with the rarified air. The majority of the walking we will be doing will be flat terrain but it could be a bit icy or walking on packed snow at times. There will be an optional .5 mile walk while at the crest for American Three-toed Woodpecker which will go slightly downhill and is often on packed snow. Folks that do not want to brave this section of trail are more than welcome to enjoy the warmth of the crest house and the rosy-finches. Sturdy shoes and walking sticks are advised. Our birding pace will be leisurely as well and we will have plenty of time to study the birds we see.

BATHROOM BREAKS: We are able to make frequent bathroom stops throughout this tour. We are rarely ever far from a rest stop, gas station, or Forest Service bathroom. There may be times when a break in nature is required, but this is not the norm on this tour. 

CLIMATE: January temperatures can vary from the 20s F (occasionally the upper 10s or even lower on the mountains) to the upper 40s or even mid to upper 50s during the day. Wind, snow, and rain are possible anywhere.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We stay at standard motels throughout. A list of hotel addresses and telephone numbers will be sent to participants as part of the final information.

FOOD: Our breakfasts will be taken in the hotels, using their various continental options (including waffles and in some cases eggs and bacon). Lunches and dinners will be taken at standard restaurants, although some of the lunches might be eaten in the field if the weather is conducive. Dinners will be varied, ranging from simpler country fare to upscale dining in Santa Fe, with emphasis placed on the specialties of the region (New Mexican Cuisine, steak).WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and refunds cannot be issued for any meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to insure the comfort of all participants, we cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot, regretfully, be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times can generally not be adjusted; any participant who needs to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them. The leader will provide an assortment of snacks and water in the van. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION:We will be traveling by 12-15 passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 15-passenger window vans, we take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles and are expected to change seats with others daily.

PHOTOGRAPHY:  This is a very easy trip for photographers to join, especially if digiscoping with a spotting scope. The open nature of the habitats in New Mexico make it so that birders and bird photographers can easily coexist.  Scenery and memory shots will be plentiful and simple to obtain but birds are difficult to photograph. Although there will be plenty of occasions when bird photography is possible, especially around the Bosque del Apache NWR, a birdwatching tour is not normally the best means of pursuing this aim.  “Digiscoping,” on the other hand, is perfectly compatible with the tour, though it is recommended you bring your own telescope! Camera equipment should be packed in moisture- and dust-proof bags, as a precaution.

Updated: 15 February 2024