Alamosa/Monte Vista/Baca National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Mountain-Prairie Region
Changing Seasons, Changing Wildlife
Early spring brings clouds of ducks, cranes, and geese back to the Refuges, reminiscent o pre-European accounts. Thousands of northern pintails, Sandhill cranes, and Canada geese can be seen throughout the valley refueling for their journey to northern breeding grounds.

Summer brings nesting shorebirds (American Avocets, Wilson’s Phalaropes, White-faced Ibis), and water birds (American Bittern, Sora, Black-crowned Night Herons) arrive.

When Ice box conditions of winter hit the valley, some waterfowl are found, but raptors dominate the Refuges’ landscape. Short-eared Owls winter and breed on both refuges. Wintering Bald Eagles can be seen fishing and roosting along the Rio Grande at Alamosa NWR, and many other raptors are found (Northern Harriers, Rough-Legged hawks, and Great Horned Owls).

Elk, deer, coyotes, porcupines and beaver are some of the other wildlife you may see while visiting the refuges. Resident deer and elk are found on the refuges year round, while migrating herds are seen in the fall and winter moving from higher elevations to the valley floor.

Results of U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service
Winter Eagle Survey of the San Luis Valley

1994 -2004 eagle survey in San Luis Valley

spectcular wildlife facts
  • In spring and fall, 95% of the Rocky Mountain population of Sandhill Cranes migrate through the San Luis Valley.
  • Alamosa NWR provides important riparian habitat for the southwest willow flycatchers and other songbirds.
  • The Monte Vista NWR is home to the largest colony of nesting water birds in Colorado.
  • Portions of the Monte Vista NWR has some of the highest duck nesting densities in the country.
Last updated: October 5, 2012