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Festival of Cranes in Bosque del Apache

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Festival of Cranes in Bosque del Apache

Sandhill cranes graze a cornfield.

Photo © Aileen O'Catherine

Getting There:

From Albuquerque, take I-25 south to U.S. 380 (nine miles south of Socorro)
Take U.S. 380 east to San Antonio
Turn right/south onto Highway 1
Continue to follow NM 1 south about nine miles
Follow the signs south to the refuge Visitor Center
Entrance to the vehicle tour loop is south of the Visitor Center.

Festival Dates:

26th Annual Festival of the Cranes
November 19-24, 2013
This year will be focused on photography, with photo workshops and lecture opportunities as well as the usual great birding expeditions.

Hours and Cost:

The auto loop tours open from one hour before to one after after sunset.
The Visitor Center is open from 7:30am to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Cost is $5 for auto loop tour per vehicle.

Festival of Cranes:

The annual Festival of Cranes in central New Mexico's Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge isn't just about cranes. The festival brings together experienced birders and those new to the hobby, providing opportunities for learning about the sandhill cranes and other wildlife. The festival also offers workshops and experiences about the refuge.

Find out about the annual Festival of the Cranes in Albuquerque at the Open Space Visitor Center.
See pictures of the Albuquerque Festival of Cranes.

The Bosque del Apache is a refuge for all seasons, but fall and winter is the time to see the greatest number of birds, from early November to mid-February. Each fall, thousands of birds flying south stop by, where they can be viewed, photographed, and witnessed en masse. The annual Festival of Cranes takes place each November, with the star attraction being the sandhill cranes.

Many visitors arrive before dawn so they can see thousands of light geese milling upon the water. As the sun rises, the flocks rise en masse in a cacophany of sound and wing. Sandhill cranes leave in groups after the geese. The geese and cranes spend the day in nearby fields where they forage. Afternoons, the birds fly back in with waves of sound and wing in a display as spectacular as the morning takeoff.

The annual Festival of the Cranes takes place both outdoors and indoors. At the auto loop, visitors can drive around the refuge. Observation decks around the loop make perfect stopping places to take photographs, use viewing scopes and learn from the volunteers stationed there. Indoors, there are over 100 lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities, all related to the annual bird migration. Outdoors, hikes and tours will take place, such as special photography tours.

A wildlife zone features exhibits and demonstrations as well as rescued birds. There are opportunities to take horseback rides, ride bicycle trails, learn about the birds, and hear speakers on a variety of topics. Over the course of six days, visitors can experience the beauty and wonder of the migrating birds in a variety of ways. The annual event is run by the Friends of the Bosque del Apache, a non-profit organization.

Learn from:

  • Members of the Audubon Council
  • Members of the Central New Mexico Audubon Society
  • Members of the American Birding Association
  • Members of the Friends of the Bosque

    Find out what kinds of birds are at the refuge, and how many, with this bird count list.

    Visit the Festival of Cranes website.

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