Local Treasures: America's Top Birding Spot


POSTED: Friday, November 16, 2012 - 9:08pm

UPDATED: Friday, November 16, 2012 - 10:37pm

Deep in the heart of the New Mexico desert, near the small town of San Antonio, you'll find the Bosque National Wildlife Refuge. It's a place you won't easily forget. Thousands upon thousands of birds are currently landing there as they migrate south for the winter.

Every November, like clockwork, the birds arrive. Sandhill cranes and ducks come from the Northern U.S. Snow geese arrive from Northern Canada and the Arctic. There are currently upwards of 40,000 birds are on the refuge. A month from now there will be as many as 100,000 birds.

"To come here and see the spectacular patter of birds and to witness this magical thing called migration, I compare it a lot to the Grand Canyon. You can take pictures and take them home and show them to family, but it doesn't really do it justice," said Refuge Manager Aaron Mize.

It's as far south as these birds will go. Some used to travel south to Mexico, but many crucial wetlands there have dried up and food is scarce. "They fly over and they see the water. They see the food and say it's warm enough. I'm staying," says Michael Hanauer, with Festival of the Cranes.

When the birds arrive, so do the photographers. They too migrate here from around the
Melinda Keith lives in her RV, and travels thousands of miles across the country looking for magical moments just like the one found at the refuge.

"It's awesome. It's beautiful," she says.

And what this 60,000 acre refuge along the Rio Grande so special is it's proximity to the borderland. If you live here it's just a short car trip away.

"It's awe inspiring. the power of nature. You get to see all these magnificent birds and its touching. It's moving," said Jerry Dodd, visiting from Dallas. It's a bucket list destination in our own backyard.

The birds will stay at the refuge until about mid-February, but this is the perfect weekend to visit. The Festival of the Cranes is taking place. It includes lectures, guided hikes, and even wildlife photography classes, among other events.

For directions on how to get to the there, just click on the link below:

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