Tijeras, New Mexico – September 4, 2018 – Two years ago this month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized Lawrence and Kristen Clark in Tijeras for having successfully certified their Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program. This month, the Clarks are celebrating the habitat’s two-year anniversary, as well as the 39 bird species that visited their habitat in the last year.
Lawrence and Kristen certified their mountainous habitat in response to the “Dog Head” fire in June of 2016. “Since then we’ve been diligent in providing fresh water and a variety of wild bird food including thistle, suet, mealworms, and black oil sunflower seed,” the Clarks said. “In just this past year alone, we’ve had 39 different bird species come through our habitat, five of which were first time migratory visitors. It’s all very exciting!”
New bird species observed this year include the Virginia’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, and the Cordilleran Flycatcher. The Clarks attribute the wide variety of bird species to their commitment to provide fresh water. “Nothing attracts a variety of birds, especially migratory birds, like fresh water,” said Kristen. “It’s the most important contribution we make to our birds and wildlife, especially when water is scarce.”
But the commitment to serving local and migratory birds is not all fun and games, as the Clarks learned in April of this year. “An outbreak of Avian Pox had infected the population of Pygmy Nuthatches in our area,” explained Kristen. “Our only course of action was to take down and thoroughly clean the feeders and bird baths and wait for the disease to run its course. It took about a month for that to happen and it was devastating to watch. Avian Pox is a terrible virus and can be a significant mortality factor.”
New Mexico is known as a birding hot-spot, with one of the highest species lists in the nation. Birders travel from all over the country to visit the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in Rattlesnake Springs, or Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge less than ten miles northeast of Roswell. Kristen adds, “We’re so incredibly blessed to live in a place that attracts such a variety of birds, and as a result we take our commitment to responsible birding seriously. Our backyard really has become a paradise; we think that’s what the birds call it anyway.”
About Backyard Birding Paradise
Kristen Clark is a fan of all things beautiful with a special love for birds. The author of several bird books, including The Special Care & Feeding of Backyard Birds and Favorite Birds of New Mexico, she founded Backyard Birding Paradise to educate others on the benefits and value of bird-watching.
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