Porcupines of the Rio Grande Bosque


A favorite winter activity for Albuquerque's outdoor enthusiasts is to stalk the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) in the Rio Grande Bosque. For a YouTube video about that activity, please click here.


The porcupines must be there year 'round, but in summer it's impossible to see them in the leafy crowns of cottonwood trees. In the winter the leaves are mostly gone and with enough patient wandering, on most winter days you'll see one. But as the next photos show, you need to know what to look for. I took the first two sets of photos in February 2017; if you hover your cursor over the slide shows, you can control the images.



In the first photo, it's hard to see anything besides an apparent clump of leaves. Looking closer, the quills become apparent. Switching to a new angle, you can just make out a face at the right side of the porcupine. Doesn't help that the porcupines are usually just dozing, not moving, which might attract your attention.


The next fine fellow wasn't so masked by leaves and branches, so was easier to find.



If you go looking for porcupines in the winter Bosque, you'll miss a lot of the fun unless you take a camera with a telephoto lens (or at least a pair of binoculars). I took the photos you see here with a compact camera not an SLR, but the lens was at maximum zoom.



The next two photos show a porcupine caught snoozing near the Rio Grande Nature Center in March 2019.