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For the Birds

The cranes are coming to the 20th annual festival at Bosque del Apache, Nov. 13-18.


If you're looking for something to do in mid-November, maybe you should wing it to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro. That's what thousands of cranes — and bird lovers — will be doing, as the Refuge hosts the 20th annual Festival of the Cranes, Nov. 13-18.

There are four major components to the Festival: tours, lectures, exhibits and the Refuge:

In the 1930s, the Rocky Mountain population of greater sandhill cranes was severely declining. Habitat loss in wintering and breeding areas, land use changes and other factors had taken their toll on the population. By 1941, fewer than 20 sandhills wintered on Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

Since 1939, refuge staff, volunteers, cooperators and other agencies have worked to restore wintering habitat along the Rio Grande for the cranes. Intensive management on the refuge, including moist soil management (growing natural wetland foods), cooperative agriculture, and crop manipulation have helped the population recover dramatically. The Refuge hosts about three-quarters of the Rocky Mountain sandhill crane population each winter, totaling up to 15,000 birds.

In addition to the sandhill cranes, the refuge is also a wintering stopover or home for snow geese, Ross' geese, pintails, shovelers, mallards, and a host of other waterfowl.

The Refuge is open daily from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. There is a $3 per vehicle entrance fee for the tour loop.


For more information and complete festival schedule, see www.friendsofthebosque.org/crane.

You can also call or email Kit Owens at 835-2077 or registrar@sdc.org. For general information about the Refuge, call 835-1828.


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