|The sky is filled with cranes every morning.|
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.
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|