The content of this page will include current items of interest to the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society

MVAS Bird Monitoring and Conservation Project

MVAS is monitoring the bird population on the Rio Grande.   The federal government plans to create a new riparian habitat in 2020.  MVAS has an opportunity to document bird populations before and after the intervention to determine how much of an impact it really has.  The information will also contribute to the ongoing study by the National Audubon Society, Western Rivers Bird Count.


The US International Water Boundary Commission (US-IWBC) is responsible for maintaining the Rio Grande for all who use it, including native plants, fauna and birds.  For the last 100 years, the local section of the Rio Grande has required total shutdown of flow for much of the year to allow for seasonal irrigation of cropland in the spring and summer and natural habitat has been drastically curtailed.  The USIWBC has an opportunity in Las Cruces to divert the flow of treated water from the Las Cruces Water Treatment Station that currently is dumped into the Rio Grande Basin continuously via a cement canal.  At eight million gallons annually, this volume will serve a newly created riparian habitat when the project is completed in 2020.  It is anticipated the change from the dry, barren area currently in place, to a much different habitat with continuous water availability for flora and fauna will have a dramatic impact.   The exact site is six acres on the East side of the river, just north of where I-10 crosses the Rio Grande. 

MVAS has formed a group to perform the study, the MVAS Bird Monitoring and Conservation Project.  To facilitate data collection the group has already successfully petitioned eBird to designate the area as an Hotspot:  Rio Grande- Las Cruces:  Treatment Water Canal South to I-10.  (control-click to go to webpage).  At this time the protocol for collecting data chosen by the group is the same as Audubon’s Western Rivers Bird Count. A link to the protocol appears below. The plan is to collect data until work begins on the project late in 2020.  Then, after the newly created riparian area has had a chance to mature, repeating the study will allow a before and after data set that should be very interesting.


Besides the basic recording of our observations, MVAS plans to use this opportunity to perform community outreach.  It is in the process of applying for a grant that will allow for teaching interested members how Audubon monitors bird populations in its Western Rivers Bird Count ( and to include the public with this information so that a broad section of interested residents can help participate in this project.


Anyone wishing to join the group may use the contact page in this website to be placed on a mailing list announcing future meetings of the group and to participate in data collection.

Background for the Government Intervention rests in reports from the US-International Boundary Water Commission.  Descriptions of the reports and references to all their data can be found on our original Conservation Web Page, which has been converted into a Word document (see below).


Attachments to this page:

  1.  Observing Protocol

  2. Original Conservation page with links .

Mesilla Valley Audubon Society