Festival of the Cranes comes to New Mexico

Where you are a bird lover, bird watcher, or simply appreciate the grandeur of nature, take note: a truly awe-inspiring event is about descend, quite literally, on northern New Mexico.

The annual Festival of the Cranes will come to Socorro, New Mexico’s Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, about 80 miles south of Albuquerque, Nov. 18 through 23. Visitors will have the opportunity to see some remarkable sights including the mass “lifting” of the birds at sunrise and their return en masse at sunset.

My wife and I were in Kearney, Neb., in early 2010 when the sand hill cranes were migrating through that area. My wife’s brother, a career park ranger, directed us to a viewing area on the Platte River and encouraged us to rouse ourselves early enough to see the sunrise lift-off.

It was an amazing sight accompanied by the astonishing sound of thousands of birds giving their calls simultaneously. While the video below is a bit shaky and out of focus, the sound will give some sense of the event.

Officials say New Mexico’s festival can serve as an introduction to the wide range of winged creatures that New Mexico has to offer.

“The Festival is a great introduction to the wealth of birdwatching opportunities we have here year round,” Monique Jacobson, the state’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary, said in a news release about the festival. “Birding offers a unique way to experience the color, serenity and majesty of the New Mexico landscape.”

New Mexico counts some 500 different beings on its state bird list and offers the growing ranks of birders a rich assortment of venues, from riparian habitats along the Rio Grande to high mountain forests. In addition to Bosque del Apache, there are a number of highly regarded bird-watching spots near Albuquerque and in more remote areas all over the state. More details can be found at http://birdinghotspotscentralnm.com/

More information on planning a trip to the Land of Enchantment, along with information on food, lodging and other attractions, can be obtained at www.newmexico.org.

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