Manzano Mountains HawkWatch, NM
Daily 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. Weather Permitting
About the Site
In addition to being one of the best spots to watch hawks in the American Southwest, the Manzano Mountains HawkWatch provides optimal leaf-peeping. Every autumn, the mountainside is ablaze with the aspen and scrub oak fall foliage. HawkWatch International began standardized annual migration counts in the Manzano Mountains in 1985, followed by a banding project in 1990—making this HWI’s second oldest count site.
Why are you counting raptors?
HawkWatch International has monitored the fall migration of raptors at the Manzano Mountains HawkWatch since 1985. The goal is to monitor long-term trends in populations of raptors along the southern Rocky Mountain Flyway.
Because raptors sit at the top of the food chain, they are more sensitive to environmental changes. This makes them excellent biological indicators of ecosystem health. Through migration counts at our network of sites, we’re able to keep a pulse on the health of raptor populations and our shared environment. In addition to conducting our own conservation work, we share our data with state and federal agencies to help guide their conservation efforts.
What will I see at the site?
The Manzano Mountains HawkWatch regularly sees between 5,000 and 7,000 migrants of up to 18 raptor species. Most abundant species include Swainson’s Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Cooper’s Hawks.
How do I get to the site?
The Manzano Mountains HawkWatch is located within the Cibola National Forest.
From Albuquerque, New Mexico, take I-40 East for 13 miles to exit 175 for NM-337/NM-333 toward Tijeras. Continue onto NM-337 South for 29 miles. Turn right onto NM-55 South and continue for 12 miles. In the small town of Manzano, take Co. Ro. BO67 west towards the mountains. When the road forks, take the dirt road to the right for 9 miles to Capilla Peak. The signed trail to the HawkWatch site is on the left just before reaching the Capilla Peak Campground. You can park on the side of the road near the trailhead sign and take the 0.7-mile hike to the observation area. This is a moderate trail with few rocky sections and little rolling elevation gain.
Where should I stay when I visit the site?
Camping is available at the Capilla Peak Campground, located next to the trailhead to the site. There are also many lodging options around the Albuquerque area.
Do I need to register before I visit?
We ask that ONLY organized groups of more than 6 individuals register before coming. You can request a timeslot here: https://form.jotform.com/HawkWatchInternational/schedule-your-migration-visit
The Site at a Glance
The Manzano Mountains HawkWatch would not be possible without the support of our partners. Thank you for investing in long-term raptor research, education, and conservation.
Join our Community of Raptor Conservationists
Curious what the crew is up to? Have questions about the local weather or the recent flight? Join our community of raptor conservationists in the Friends of Manzano Mountains Facebook Group!