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Who What Where Why and How

My name is Steve Valasek, I’m in my 30s, I have a wife, a daughter and a son.  We recently moved from Pittsburgh to Albuquerque because my wife got a job and I got to quit mine.  So now I’m a stay at home dad.  I’m also a bit of a geek and ride an old rusty Lambretta scooter.  I also really enjoy taking photos, usually of my daughter or birds.  These are my stories, dum-dummm…

  1. Cliff Gibbons permalink

    Hey Steve. I am new to NM-just moved from GA for a job in late Oct. Enjoy birding as well as entomolgy (particularly butterflies and native bees) and botany. Some of your photos caught my eye while Googling the Jemez Mtns. Great pics! Been up both Embudito and Embuto Canyons…great hikes and several bird species noted. Still learning the area. Any secrets you are willing to share?

    Cheers! Cliff

    • steve permalink

      Hi Cliff,
      Welcome to New Mexico and thanks for reading my blog. There are lots of resources for birding in Albuquerque. Tomorrow is our Christmas Bird Count. If you are interested in participating people are meeting at the Sprout’s Market in Cottonwood, which is at the corner of Corrales Road and Rt. 528. Contact our compiler, Raymond VanBuskirk, at or by phone at (505) 217-8514 to help out.
      Next Saturday is the CBC for a brand new urban wildlife refuge, which I’ve talked about before Valle de Oro. I’ll be there for that count too. Here’s their information:
      Central New Mexico Audubon Society has weekly trips on Thursdays to local places, if you can make them. You get to see lots of the area and lots of birds with that group. They also offer weekend trips, but not as regularly. You can see the schedule here:
      The Rio Grande Nature Center is a great place for birds and bugs. They offer weekend guided bird walks at 8:30 (but just for the Winter, they change the times with the seasons) and nature walks at 1pm. All of the information for there is here:
      And if you would like to socialize with fellow birders, then the last Tuesday of the month is a Birds and Beers get-together. They are at the O’Neals Pub on Central and start around 5pm. There’s a (often difficult) quiz and updates on news, it’s a fun time. I don’t know if there will be one at the end of this month due to the holidays or not, but I’ll be out of town anyway.
      And if you haven’t been up to the Sandia Crest for the Rosy-Finches yet, that’s a neat time to spend the day. I finally saw the suckers yesterday and will be writing up a blog post this weekend about it, so keep an eye out for it. But basically you can sit inside, sip a hot drink and wait for the birds to show up while enjoying a parade of Nuthatches, Chickadees and Jays.
      There are also 2 books that I can recommend, the first is a Field Guide of local plants and animals:
      And the other is a guide to local birding hotspots, which was written by 2 local birders who you have a good chance of seeing if you do the Thursday walks or Birds & Beers:
      There’s also a Facebook group called Birding New Mexico that has lots of useful information on there.
      Unfortunately my family and I are moving away from NM at the end of January, so my ability to get out will be limited. But I really want to see an American Dipper before I go so I’m going to try 1 or 2 more times for them. You’d be more than welcome to come along.
      Welcome to ABQ, hope you like it as much as I do. Wait until next Summer, you can giggle when people complain about the bugs…

  2. Cliff Gibbons permalink

    Thanks for the info Steve! If I didn’t already have plans tomorrow, I would join you on the Christmas Bird Count. I fly back to GA at the end of next week to visit the family (they have not moved yet) and I will be taking part in one more CBC there before I officially become a New Mexican. If possible, I would like to go on an outing with you before you leave the area, but I would only be available after the first of the year and it sounds as if you will be busy with making preparations to leave. However, let me know if you have some time on a Saturday or Sunday in January as I work in Santa Fe. My folks live in Montana and I see Dippers there as I’m fishing the Bitterroot River. Do you happen to know any insect people…particularly butterflies and native bees (I’m a birder gone bad )? I am gloing to order the books you suggested…they will be great additions to my already extensive field guide/reference collection. If for some reason we cannot alighn our schedules, I wish you and your family the best! Take care and thanks again for the info!



    • steve permalink

      I’m sure that we could meet up in January. The end of the month is a Thursday Birder trip to Bosque del Apache, last year we had 60 species.
      I would buy both of those books at the Nature Center book store, keep the money in the area. And if you become a friend of the nature center, you get a shop discount.
      In Santa Fe I would check out the Randall Davey Audubon Center, it’s great.
      My friend Joe Schelling is a birder and a butterfly guy. He’s the number 2 expert that I know, behind his friend Rebecca. Here’s his blog, shoot him off a message:

      Happy Holidays.

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