Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Wildlife encounter on the Rio Grande.

In New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of birds take flight at sunrise.
In New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of birds take flight at sunrise.

It’s 5:30 a.m., 27 degrees and pitch-black dark on a November morning in New Mexico. I’m standing in a small group on a wooden platform built out over the water named “The Flight Deck.”

Although we can’t see a thing, we hear random calls of ducks and geese somewhere out in the wetlands that stretch beyond the platform. As the dawn begin to turn the sky pink and then red above the San Pascual Mountains in the eastern horizon, there is a rising of quacking, clucking and whistling and we begin to see shapes of birds sitting and standing in shallow water all around.

Then, all at once, it happens. Literally thousands of calling geese, cranes and ducks fill the crisp morning air and rise together into the morning dawn. They break off into smaller groups, heading out in different directions towards nearby fields and ponds for the day’s grazing.

Snow geese on the Rio Grande.

In a matter of minutes, these thousands of geese and cranes and ducks are gone. We’re told they will all return before sunset to spend the night together in this water where they’re safe from nighttime predators.

This daily cycle is the “fly in, fly out” performance at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a fall rite of passage here, and will continue until spring when the birds all head north.

For millennia, thousands of geese, cranes, ducks and a variety of other migratory birds have descended to this small stretch of the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico. They come from as far away as Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. The refuge consists of 57,331 acres along the Rio Grande at the northern edge of the Chihauhuan desert about 20 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico.

And for the last 25 years, a large flock of homo sapiens have also migrated here for a week to witness this wonder. It’s called “The Festival Of The Cranes.”

The festival includes guided tours of the refuge and surrounding desert, mountains and lakes, lectures and workshops, art and equipment displays. There are hiking trails and driving loops through the area with food and lodging 20 minutes away. A lot of bird watchers show up, but the crowd consists of really just anyone who loves nature.

The Sandhill Crane with its distinguishing red forehead.

The celebrities of the festival are the approximately 6,500 Sandhill Cranes who fly in from summer homes in the arctic. These grayish birds are a bit larger than the Great Blue Herons we see around San Diego with a red patch on their head. Their long wingspan lets them glide like 787s on approach for a landing, and all day small groups can be seen and heard calling.

Along with the cranes are about 40,000 very beautiful (and noisy) white snow geese along with about another 15 species of ducks, a myriad of hawks, woodpeckers and small migratory birds.

A "bosque" is woodland area surrounding the floodplain of a river and consists of marsh, flooded field and streams, which make a perfect habitat for wildlife. Food for the flocks of birds come from local farms, as commercial farming is allowed within the Refuge as long as a sufficient portion of the crop is left for the wildlife to graze on.

In addition to the birds there are coyote, wild turkey, white tailed and mule deer, wild javelina pigs, raccoon, mountain lion, and pronghorn antelope on the prairie not far away.

It’s a wildlife safari Southwest-style, and only a few hours’ flying or a day's driving away.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Next Article

Mark Dresser’s musicianship cuts through it all

Long-time UCSD professor’s telematics trials
In New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of birds take flight at sunrise.
In New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of birds take flight at sunrise.

It’s 5:30 a.m., 27 degrees and pitch-black dark on a November morning in New Mexico. I’m standing in a small group on a wooden platform built out over the water named “The Flight Deck.”

Although we can’t see a thing, we hear random calls of ducks and geese somewhere out in the wetlands that stretch beyond the platform. As the dawn begin to turn the sky pink and then red above the San Pascual Mountains in the eastern horizon, there is a rising of quacking, clucking and whistling and we begin to see shapes of birds sitting and standing in shallow water all around.

Then, all at once, it happens. Literally thousands of calling geese, cranes and ducks fill the crisp morning air and rise together into the morning dawn. They break off into smaller groups, heading out in different directions towards nearby fields and ponds for the day’s grazing.

Snow geese on the Rio Grande.

In a matter of minutes, these thousands of geese and cranes and ducks are gone. We’re told they will all return before sunset to spend the night together in this water where they’re safe from nighttime predators.

This daily cycle is the “fly in, fly out” performance at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a fall rite of passage here, and will continue until spring when the birds all head north.

For millennia, thousands of geese, cranes, ducks and a variety of other migratory birds have descended to this small stretch of the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico. They come from as far away as Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. The refuge consists of 57,331 acres along the Rio Grande at the northern edge of the Chihauhuan desert about 20 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico.

And for the last 25 years, a large flock of homo sapiens have also migrated here for a week to witness this wonder. It’s called “The Festival Of The Cranes.”

The festival includes guided tours of the refuge and surrounding desert, mountains and lakes, lectures and workshops, art and equipment displays. There are hiking trails and driving loops through the area with food and lodging 20 minutes away. A lot of bird watchers show up, but the crowd consists of really just anyone who loves nature.

The Sandhill Crane with its distinguishing red forehead.

The celebrities of the festival are the approximately 6,500 Sandhill Cranes who fly in from summer homes in the arctic. These grayish birds are a bit larger than the Great Blue Herons we see around San Diego with a red patch on their head. Their long wingspan lets them glide like 787s on approach for a landing, and all day small groups can be seen and heard calling.

Along with the cranes are about 40,000 very beautiful (and noisy) white snow geese along with about another 15 species of ducks, a myriad of hawks, woodpeckers and small migratory birds.

A "bosque" is woodland area surrounding the floodplain of a river and consists of marsh, flooded field and streams, which make a perfect habitat for wildlife. Food for the flocks of birds come from local farms, as commercial farming is allowed within the Refuge as long as a sufficient portion of the crop is left for the wildlife to graze on.

In addition to the birds there are coyote, wild turkey, white tailed and mule deer, wild javelina pigs, raccoon, mountain lion, and pronghorn antelope on the prairie not far away.

It’s a wildlife safari Southwest-style, and only a few hours’ flying or a day's driving away.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Sanctified and glorified at Encanto Southern Baptist Church

Life is important on this side of death, but what really matters is eternity.
Next Article

San Diego's punk music, goodbye to Lennon

Reader writers tell favorite music
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close