The Mysterious Monarch in New Mexico

The Monarch Butterfly is probably the best known of North American’s butterflies, but its’ presence in New Mexico is not well documented compared to other states.  Our March speaker, Steve Carey, a natural resource specialist for the state of New Mexico, asked that we report any Monarch sightings to the website Journey North at  Data entered at the site contributes to our knowledge of the when and where of this remarkable animal.  The main migratory route for the Monarch butterfly is through Texas, but individuals are regularly recorded in New Mexico.  A more robust record of the species would help answer questions such as “Do some Monarch’s migrate from east to west?” and “How do Monarchs shift in the changing climate?”.  Most people like a good mystery so the next time you see a Monarch, take note and submit your sighting.  The more we know about the distribution of Monarch butterflies in North America, the more we can take measures to protect them.

Great Backyard Bird Count

If you are interested in participating in this weekend’s Great Backyard Bird Count, please click here for more information.

Bird Photo Winners

Congratulations to Barbara Jackson and her Yellow-throated Warbler photo taken in her yard in Arrey, NM.  Honorable mentions go to Frank Wilson’s Say’s Phoebe and Jay Wilbur’s American Coots.  Pictures can be viewed in the newsletter.

The deadline for this quarter is March 31, 2017

Photos submitte4d must have been taken in our local area, namely the counties of Sierra, Otero or Dona Ana, and during the past 12 months.  Our publications committee judges entries based on photo quality, subject interest and subject variety.  Please include the location taken and the name of the species in your email.  Our newsletter editor makes the final selection for publication and one of these photos is chose as the First Prize Winner.

By submitting your photo you automatically grant MVAS publication rights for one year.  MVAS may use your photo in any of our publications, including newsletters and our annual calender.  Photos should be submitted electronically as a high resolution .jpg file to judi626@earthlink.neet

Waterfowl Identification

MVAS members attended a waterfowl identification class presented by MVAS Secretary Jay Wilbur on January 18th.  Participants learned key field marks and other ways to recognize duck, geese and swan species common in New Mexico.  Then on Jan 21st and 22nd, Jay led the class on a tour of the Bosque del Apache NWR to put their new skills into practice.  The group saw over 40 species, including a family of four Tundra Swans.

Sri Lanka Birding Trip

Dr. Nirmala Khandan, Professor of Environmental Engineering at NMSU, is planning an eight day photo expedition to his native Sri Lanka in August 2017.  The small tropical island has 33 endemic birds and more than 220 breeding species.  This expedition will focus on birds and wildlife during a full day trek through the Sinharaja Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site which harbors 30 of the endemic species and safaris in three National Wildlife Parks.

Participants in this private small group expedition will share the total costs equally.  Prof. Khandan welcomes members of MVAS to this unique opportunity.  For more information, contact him at (575) 520-0004 or via email at  Khandan is a member of both MVAS and the Dona Ana Photography Club.

LC Christmas Bird Count

The 2016 annual bird count on December 17, 2016 is one to remember!  Birds were observed and counted as usual despite the horrible weather conditions.  Our intrepis 13 teams of citizen scientists suffered winds of 40 mph with gusts of 60 mph, dust and sand clouds including bouts of rain on and off during the day.  Meanwhile, the birds were smart enough to “hunker down” in bushes and trees.  The local teams counted a total of 19,959 birds, a third less than last year’s 33,770.

March 2017 Fieldtrip

Saturday, March 18, 2017

We will explore some of the diverse habitat near the village of La Luz, north of Alamogordo.  Meet at the northwest corner of the K-Mart parking lot on Hwy 70 (closest to the Shell station) at 7:00 a.m.  Carpooling is encouraged for this all day trip.

February 2017 Fieldtrip

Saturday, February 18,  2017
Las Cruces citizen scientists will become part of the Great Backyard Bird Count conducted by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, by exploring the wetlands and other areas east of the Las Cruces Dam.  Meet at Sagecrest Park, 601 N. Roadrunner Parkway, at 7:00 a.m.

Annual Election Results

The MVAS annual election of Officers and Directors was held January 18, 2017.  Officers re-elected for 2017 are President Jennifer Montoya, Vice-President Ken Stinnett, Secretary Jay Wilbur and Treasurer Diane Moore.  Re-elected to the Board of Directors for 2017-2019 are C.J. Goin and Mark Pendleton, Directors Judi Schultz, Aaron Lucas, Gill Sorg, and Wayne Treers continue in on-going terms.  MVAS leadership contact information is listed on our website,

April 2017 Program

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Matt Boggie, NMSU PhD student in biology, wil speak on Greater Sandhill Cranes in New Mexico.  Matt is our 2016 recipient of the Richard Bischoff scholarship.  He is studying the winter habitat conditions and survival along the Rio Grande.