Wild courting

The first thing you’ll notice in West Texas is that the trees look thirsty.

This is the desert and at Rattlesnake Springs–a preserve adjacent to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico–there were plenty of towering Cottonwood trees that seemed desperate for a drink. But it’s only the first couple weeks of Spring here in the desert and this is to be expected.

“See the buds?” Steve assured me. “These trees are doing fine.”

Buds! Yes! I was relieved that Spring had arrived. Those trees looked like they’d had just enough of winter.

Steve and I have been on an 11-day road trip in West Texas (and a bit of New Mexico), visiting three National Parks and getting in a bit of birding. Our first stop was the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, followed by the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. One of the park rangers tipped us off on the nice birding opportunities at Rattlesnake Springs.

There’s good parking, loads of picnic tables under the big Cottonwood trees and, most importantly, bathrooms. From the park you walk about a 1/4 mile on the gravel road to the spring where we happened upon a group of bachelor turkeys, practicing their best moves. Yes, Spring is here and these turkeys had Spring Fever.


Helloooooo ladies


The males practiced fanning while the females watched and took notes. Some were better than others.


Showing how it’s done.


This area is also a good area for some swell looks at Vermillion Flycatchers. They weren’t shy about posing either.


A very cooperative Vermillion Flycatcher.


So if you’re in the area of Carlsbad Caverns National Park or its neighbor, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, be sure to swing by Rattlesnake Springs for some birding and check out the Turkeys in the springtime for some wild displays.

Here’s a bit of what we saw the morning we visited Rattlesnake Springs:

  • Wild Turkeys
  • Vermillion Flycatcher
  • Rufous-crowned sparrow
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Pyrrhuloxia
  • Cedar Waxwings
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Black Phoebe
  • Say’s Phoebe
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • Eurasian-collared Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Mourning Dove

Let me leave you will very short video of the bachelor turkeys. (click play button below):