Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Adjacent to Interstate 25, just south of Socorro, New Mexico, is Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. This sanctuary is famous for its winter gathering of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese.

In addition to these bird species, you can frequently see Bald Eagles, Greater Roadrunners, Gambel’s Quail, and Wild Turkeys. In fact, over 350 species of birds have been observed here.

Photographs from Bosque Del Apache

When to Photograph in Bosque del Apache

The Bosque is one of the major wintering areas for up to 50,000 Snow Geese and 15,000 Greater Sandhill Cranes; so, the best time to visit is from mid-November through early January.

Dawn is the best time to photograph. First, you can catch the mass ascention of the Snow Geese.  At one moment they are resting in the many ponds and the next moment they are airborn. A little later, the Sandhill Cranes start waking up, leisurely taking off in twos and threes to make their daily rounds.

Visit All About Birds for tips on photographing in the Bosque.

About Greater Sandhill Cranes

The Rocky Mountain population of Greater Sandhill Cranes are the most numerous subspecies of sandhill cranes to winter in Bosque del Apache. Standing up to four feet tall with a wing span greater than six feet, this subspecies of sandhill cranes is the largest of all sandhill cranes.
The cranes leave their wintering grounds and join their brethren in the Platt River valley near Kearney, Nebraska, starting in February, where they rest and build their strength. In mid-April they start their long migration to northern Canada, Alaska, or Siberia.

About Snow Geese

Snow Geese, sometimes called Light Geese, breed in northern Canada and migrate south to the Bosque. They weigh between six and seven pounds and they have a wingspan of nearly three feet. As mentiond earlier, they tend to act as one. That is, they take off en masse each day and return en masse at night, unlike Sandhill Crane neighbors.

Other migratory visitors to the Bosque

Tens of thousands of ducks join the cranes and geese in the long flight south down the Central Flyway to winter at the bosque. The most common include blue-wing teals, green-wing teals, cinnamon teals, mallards, northern pintails, northern shovelers, the American wigeon, the American black duck and the ruddy duck. Read more at Desert USA:

Purchasing our photographs

All our photographs take at Bosque del Apache are available to license or as prints. Contact us using the form to the right and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

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