Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Life is For The Birds

The sky is filled with cranes every morning.
Looks like it's been a while since my last post.  I would apologize but I feel no guilt for it.  Seems like my life has been for the birds more and more since I moved into the refuge.  And boy do we have the birds here.
This week's count for Sandhill Cranes is a little over 8,500.  The cranes are the main draw here but the snow geese give them a run for their money.  And these guys do their best to take away attention from the cranes.  It makes for very interesting shows all the time.  The cranes have a loud bugling voice that rings out across the refuge night and day.  They are tall and graceful with their scarlet caps that seem to glow on sunny days, and when they come in for a landing they drop their long legs and flap their huge wings resembling small aircraft coming in for a landing on the fields and ponds.

The snow geese aren't about to be put out by some showy cranes.  Not only are the geese numbers more than twice the number of the cranes, but they have a way of being noticed when they leave and arrive.  First of all the geese arrive in groups of one hundred or more at a time.  
It's snowing geese!

They fly over the field in a dramatic swoop then swing back across a little lower before finally coming to a noisy landing.  Try to imagine a restaurant full of chatting people.  Multiply that noise by tens or hundreds depending on the size of the flock.  If you are used to the honk honk of the Canada geese on the pond, forget it.  Snow geese sound like that restaurant full of people.   
An American Widgeon is unimpressed by my visit.

And then things get ducky - like more than 85,000 ducks worth of ducky.  Most of them are northern pintails, northern shovelers, and mallards.  But mixed in with them are ruddy ducks, buffleheads, canvasbacks, redheads, ringed necks, and a few widgeons, green-winged teals, and wood ducks.  A drive or walk down the south loop is filled with lots of quackers. 

Just one of the training sessions I've attended since starting
at the Bosque.  We are taught the history of the refuge and
the Rio Grande River as well as birder training.
After the cranes and the geese, the next big draw here on the Bosque is the raptors.  I rode the 12 mile tour loop last Sunday with our bird guide and ended up with a count of 3 mature bald eagles and 5 juveniles; 2 mature golden eagles and 1 juvenile; 32 northern harriers,
1 kestrel, 13 ravens, and 37 red tail hawks.  And the biggest thing I learned is that not all red tail hawks have a red tail.  Go figure.

Beyond the big show there are all the little song birds that come to the feeders or hang out on the dried sunflowers in the fields: white crowned sparrows, white throated sparrows, song sparrows, house sparrows, juncos, towhees, and a few house finches.  The winter weather here is mild but what few bugs we get are kept in control by the resident flycatchers: Say's Phoebe and Black Phoebe.

Wheww!!  Did I leave anyone out?  Well, wintering goldfinches and mountain bluebirds of course. 
A murder of crows
So if I don't blog as often as I have before you'll have to understand.  When I'm not taking visitors out to see the refuge and our residents, I'm studying them.  It's a tough job but somebody's got to love it!

1 comment:

  1. Man what a great job you got there. When I lived down in Las Cruces, I made monthly and weekly visits to the Bosque!!! I love that place for the variety of birds. I will be out there in March. How long will you be working there. Love to meet up with you. Keep having fun!