Burford (also called Stinking) Lake is New Mexico's largest natural lake and is one of the most significant wetlands in the state. Leopold called Buford Lake "the greatest natural wonder in New Mexico" and estimated that 7000 pairs of 30 species nested there in the 1910s. Burford Lake and 3 nearby smaller lakes vary in size according to the amount of precipitation in their drainage basins. Burford lake was completely dry in 1954 and 1977 and the smaller lakes were dry for longer periods.

Directions: Go north of Tierra Amarilla on US-84 to Los Ojos and NM-95. Turn west on NM-95 and continue past Heron Lake and around the north end of El Vado Lake. Continue west until you reach Burford Lake. A detailed map of this area is required.

Ornithological Summary

At least 30 species breed at these lakes. These include Pied-billed, Eared, and Western Grebe, Black-crowned Night Heron, White-faced Ibis, American Coot, American Avocet, Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbird, Virginia Rail, and Sora. Ten duck species breed here including Cinnamon, Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, and Mallard. Burford is an important regional summer molting area for ducks with an average of 5000, mostly Mallard and Gadwall.

Summer Waterbird Populations at Stinking Lake, New Mexico, 1987-1989 (Stahlecker) (DS)

Burford Lake, New Mexico revisited (Huey and Travis)
Observations on the habits of birds of Lake Burford, New Mexico (Wetmore)

Breeding Bird Survey Route 60053 Stinking Lake (BBS)

Conservation Issues

Cattle grazing, especially in dry years, can cause damage to rush and reed areas.


Jicarilla Apache Tribe, Jicarilla Game & Fish Department, P.O. Box 313, Dulce NM 87528, 505-759-3255

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