column 0118 1.jpg

Column 01/2018

The sensation of birds, migratory waterfowl overhead, can vivify a leaden gray day in autumn. I image these birds might be the same ones that friends, in the southwest, encounter overhead, although weeks later. Migration, long-distance migration, is an annual seasonality movement of these birds, north to south, an instinctual process, that we can witness in the northwest USA and the southwest Canada. Waterfowl migrate because of shifting conditions of food supply and climate. They tend to return north in the spring for nesting and breeding purposes.

The cacophony of sounds, made by geese and ducks and cranes, could be liken to atonal music, as it alerts us to seasonal change; perhaps humans respond with some form of instinctual behavior, as well, during seasonal shifting. The airborne waterfowl, with their aerial music, follow timeworn routes, flyways, to the south of the US, and further to Mexico and Central America. Specifically, in the southwest US, there are numerous stopover areas, for migratory birds, which can serve as short-term or long-term rest-overs for these travelers.


column 0118 2

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, in central New Mexico, is a popular stopover along the north-south migratory route. It is located 90 minutes south of Albuquerque and it has been a protected land and water refuge for over 75 years; its nearly 60,000 acres, which includes 8,000 acres of wetlands, is located adjacent to the Rio Grande river. The quantity of distinct bird species, in the refuge, can exceed 100, on any given day in the winter, and other types of wildlife – animals, snakes and reptiles – are also abundantly present on the grounds.

I have been fortunate to have visited the Bosque del Apache refuge twice in the past; in the dead of winter. Prior to a visit to the refuge it is a must to check the refuge’s website and specifically their E-Bird Trail Tracker. This tracker will indicate what types of birds are currently present at the refuge and the estimated count of each species; in the height of winter this aggregate numbering would be in the thousands.

A day, at the refuge, usually begins at sunrise with a mass ascension. Against the cold backdrop of anemic pastel light, at the initiation of sunrise, mass ascension; this could be an armada numbering in the thousands.