Birding Southeastern New Mexico

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge 'jewel of the desert', is located about 9 miles east of Roswell, on the west side of the Pecos River in southeastern New Mexico.   From North Main (Hwy 285) take Pine Lodge Road east, follow the signs [Pine Lodge Road ends on the Refuge].   The Refuge consists of 24,000 acres where the mixed-grass prairie zone meets the Chihuahuan Desert, also where some eastern species meet western species.

Bitter Lake NWR was established in 1937 as a winter habitat for migratory waterfowl and sandhill cranes.   It currently consists of three basic sections.   North of Hwy 70 is the 9,620 acre Salt Creek Wilderness Area, which is closed to motorized vehicles. South of Hwy 380 is the Refuge Farm Unit, where crops are grown for the geese and cranes.   The central section is divided into the north end, closed to the public, containing the Refuge's name sake (Bitter Lake) and numerous sink holes.   The remainder is open to the public and includes the Auto Tour Route with man made lakes, walking paths, wetland habitats and Hunter Marsh at the south end.   [Hunter Marsh was named after Raymond H. Hunter, the Refuge's manager from 1944-1954.]

Bitter Lake NWR is a treasure in the desert.   It is the only known nesting area in New Mexico for the interior least tern.   It has the greatest diversity of dragonflies and damselfies (Odonata) of all National Wildlife Refuges.   It is the home of several rare animal and plant species including the Roswell Springsnail, the Pecos Puzzle Sunflower and several small native fishes.    The Refuge can be enjoyed by wildlife observation, photography, the self-guided auto tour, and wildlife research.   It is open daily from one hour before sunrise to one houre after sunset.

Bitter Lake Photo Gallery

Bitter Lake Endangered Species Field Trip

Friends of Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Inc.

BLNWR has been participating in an extended Odonata (dragonflies & damselflies) survey,
that started on the refuge, spread out to include Chaves County, and now includes all
of southeastern New Mexico.  This has become quite exciting and have surprised
many people as to the diversity of species found at BLNWR.

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This page last updated on 8/2005.
Created and maintain by Karen Jo Herman
March 15, 2000