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The still of early morning in the Río Fernando wetlands. A lone robin's song. The low moan of a single cow. I've returned to the wetlands after a month's absence. Looking for herons.

A friend and I pause as we inch along the boardwalk in Baca Park. Already folks are out walking dogs.

It's June and the trees have leafed out. We listen for what we cannot see: Yellow warbler? Song sparrow?

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It is springtime in Santa Fe, and the spectacular bird migration is well underway.

Billions of birds are flying across our continent, making their way from Central America and Mexico to northern nesting grounds. From tiny hummingbirds and warblers to large sandhill cranes, many of the birds you are seeing travel hundreds and even thousands of miles round-trip up and down the Western Hemisphere.

One of my favorite migratory species seen here in Santa Fe are orioles - Bullock's and Scott's. Both species are widespread and common with only slight declines in population in recent decades.

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On a chilly morning, Taos photographer/birder John Lay and I trailed along the edge of a string of ponds, each made possible by acequias and small irrigation ditches, which thread through the valley's vegas, our precious meadows and agricultural fields. Taos Mountain loomed, blanketed with new snow.

And then we spotted it, a snowy egret, as beautiful and white as the mountain's peak. The Spanish name is garceta nívea. Last time I saw one I was in Florida, though they do make an appearance from time to time at the Ohkay Owingeh lakes outside Española.

We watched the egret pick its way along the...

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My wife and I were engaged in our favorite activity on a recent morning: bird-watching. At our feeding station were five ladderback woodpeckers and a northern flicker. They were feeding on suet and seed cylinders, and one ladderback was indulging himself at our hummingbird feeder that is awaiting the first hummingbird arrivals.

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Hearing the birds chirp and chatter in the spring, when the wind dies down long enough, brings me a sense of well-being. If the birds are having a good tweet, then I figure all must be well. Spotting a hawk, finding a hidden nest or seeing your first hummingbird of the season can make the day feel a little more special.