Randall Davey Audubon Center

A sanctuary for wildlife and place for connection

The Randall Davey Audubon Center (RDAC) is Santa Fe’s nature center, with over 185 acres of habitat, trails, wildlife gardens, a historic estate, outdoor classrooms, and a new Nature Discovery Area. Each year, we engage thousands of people and connect them with the outdoors and natural world, helping them to appreciate their role and responsibility within it. On any given day, we have locals and tourists alike coming to see some of the 190 bird species observed here, learn about native plants in our wildlife garden, tour the historic Randall Davey house and studio, or just get away from the city by hiking the trails.

Since it was gifted to the National Audubon Society in 1983, the property has been the base for Audubon’s leading education facility and wildlife sanctuary in New Mexico, seeing over 10,000 visitors annually. Audubon Southwest, the regional field office for the National Audubon Society in New Mexico and Arizona, currently owns and operates the Davey Center. Our mission is to conserve birds and the places they need for the benefit of wildlife, nature, and people. We do this work through partnerships and on-the ground efforts in conservation, science, policy, and education.

Our staff take great pride in stewarding RDAC as both a wildlife sanctuary, and somewhere for people to connect with nature and each other. We protect and conserve acres of Piñon-Juniper and Ponderosa Forest that border the Santa Fe Watershed and National Forest. We help steward the ancient acequia del llano. With the monumental efforts of the Santa Fe Master Gardeners, thousands of native plants grow in our gardens for birds and pollinators. In 2021, we completed the newest chapter in RDAC’s long history, with the building of the David J Henderson Pavilion to support expanded youth and community programs and events, as well as the Nature Discovery Area, including an incredible “treehouse” that has become a fan favorite.

These days, we are seeing a more visitors than ever before, and a wider swath of the community due to the new attraction, as well as ongoing outreach efforts into the greater Santa Fe and northern New Mexico region. One of our favorite things is when parents drop off their young campers and share how they used to come up to RDAC as a kid. One of our goals is to cultivate the next generation of conservation leaders by nurturing a place that folks can come back to repeatedly, as well as offering programs and learning opportunities throughout a person’s life.

On any given day, the Center is abuzz with students returning from the trail after their investigation of a Ponderosa forest, moms meeting up for a coffee and playdate, or a full family enjoying a picnic in the orchard, from grandparents down to new babies. We also welcome the quiet moments, especially for birders waiting patiently for a brilliant migratory bird to show itself, and those reflections while reading one of the poems hanging on the haiku trail, and the moments of wonder while sitting on the bench surrounded by hummingbirds and wildflowers. All of these different experiences allow someone to be sparked by inspiration or curiosity, and perhaps how to get involved or help birds at home.

Last week, our staff met an older gentleman visiting with his six year old grandson. He shared that the pair used to visit often when the boy was a toddler, but hadn’t been back in a few years. Just a few days earlier, they learned about our new Nature Discovery Area, and decided to revisit the Center. They sauntered through the gardens, with the enthusiastic boy racing ahead, while the grandfather followed, walking slowly through the blooming trees. As the treehouse came into view and the boy took off running, the grandfather turned and said, “Although he doesn’t remember, this place is in his bones. And it probably always will be.”

Davey House with Students, photo by Nina Otero
Nature Discovery Area, photo by Katie Weeks
Students Studying with Microscopes, photo by Katie Weeks
Hummingbird and Moth, photo by Tom Taylor


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