The 1000-meter stream and wetland system at Rattlesnake Springs has been sustained by the remaining undiverted spring flow. Originally a marsh, this area has been altered by human development. Today this green oasis provides habitat for a wide variety of species. The oasis is bounded by the gently rolling Chihuahuan Desert plains, dotted with creosote bush, yucca, mesquite, and snakewood. These plains are framed by the magnificent backdrop of the Guadalupe escarpment. This stream/wetland complex constitutes an extraordinary natural resource of state and regional significance. The area provides critical habitat for an extraordinary number and variety of birds, reptiles, mammals, and butterflies. The rural character contains open irrigated fields, cottonwoods along the irrigation ditches and the watercourse, fruit trees that line the access road, and the picnic area. Rattlesnake Springs has a picnic area for visitors with tables and cooking grills in a grassy area under large cottonwood trees. Drinking water and wheelchair accessible toilets are also available. This is one of the best spots in New Mexico for eastern and Mexican vagrants.
Directions: Go 5.5 miles southwest of White's City on US-62/180 . Turn west on Washington Ranch Road (CR 418) for 2.5 miles.
This area likely contains the second largest population of Bell's Vireos in the state. A large number of New Mexico Partners in Flight priority species breed at this site including Summer Tanager, Varied Bunting, Painted Bunting, Eastern Bluebird, Hooded Oriole, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Orchard Oriole, and Verdin. Rattlesnake Springs and the adjoining Washington Ranch attract a large number and variety of migrating birds.
This area also serves as a migrant trap with a number of out-of-range species appearing. These have included Least Flycatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Carolina Wren , Hooded Warbler, Lucy's Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Baltimore Oriole.
C. Rustay personal observations.
Russian olive is being hand removed from riparian area by the NPS. Efforts to move horses away from riparian area to keep cowbird numbers lower and to increase shrub growth.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, 505-785-2232
Bill McRory, Washington Ranch, White's City, NM, 505-785-2228