Posts Tagged ‘ Bosque del Apache ’

Video: Bosque del Apache Day Trip – Festival of the Cranes

Written by Mark T Fiedler - The Mark and Sheila Team
November 25th, 2010

One of the cool things about New Mexico is the number of great destinations within a couple hours drive of the Albuquerque / Rio Rancho area. We joined a local hiking group this past weekend for an excursion to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is located on 30,000 acres just 113 miles south of Rio Rancho, just south of Socorro. It is the site of the annual Festival of the Cranes, usually held in late November.

Festival of the CranesMany years ago, the Rio Grande River meandered more, and would create shallow marshes and wetlands in this area. Migrating waterfowl would visit this area after leaving their northern digs when it got cold. Over the years, the Rio Grande became more of a specific channel, and the birds lost their habitat. When the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge was established, they redirected part of the Rio Grande’s flow into acres of lowland to re-create the marshes preferred by the birds. Much of the rest of the land is now devoted to raising crops, some of which is left in the field as food for the birds.

During the day, the Sandhill Crains are in the pastures, eating, strutting and calling. At dusk however, they leave the pastures and head to the shallow ponds where they will be safer from predators in the dark. Some years, the cranes number up to 15,000 and blanket the sky. When we visited, the crane count was only about 2500. The weather had been pretty warm, so the real migration had not yet peaked. About 30 minutes after dark, when there was too little light to film, the snow geese flock swooped into the pond to join the cranes. The arrival ratcheted up the bird noise by a factor of ten. As of today, the snow goose population is around 8500. There are dozens of bird species present, (including Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles and American White Pelicans) easy walking trails, bird observation blinds, and great facilities overall. I recommend this as a great day trip for the whole family any time of year.