Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Birds

Sandhill Cranes and snow geese at Bosque del Apache NWR, Michael Mauro/Mauromedia

One thing we've noticed since we've been here in New Mexico is the abundance of bird life. We've had swallows nesting in the eaves of the front porch forever, and we've noticed lots of grackles, doves, sparrows, larks and other birds proliferating in the area and on our trees, but over the week or so that we've been here permanently, we've discovered that we're under the flyway for sandhill cranes.

We knew about the snow geese and other geese that use this flyway, and we knew there were cranes on the other side of the Manzanos and Sandias, but we didn't realize they were local here, too. They don't just fly by in great flocks, they feed in the plowed or harvested fields not far away, sometimes by the many dozens, they apparently use the saline lakes in the region, and they are a nearly constant presence. I can hear them outside now.

The Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque del Apache NWR near Socorro is November 13-18, so we may have to take a little time to visit. The count of sandhill cranes stands at 300 as of a couple of days ago. I think we've seen -- and heard -- close to that many overhead at our place quite a few miles north.

I've seen lots of raptors in the area as well, including one huge golden eagle sitting placidly on a fencepost down the road and a whole bunch of Cooper's and red-tailed hawks among others.

Of course the ravens and the crows are common; they love to follow the horses around in the field nearby. Woodpeckers love our trees. I'm not surprised, the droughts having left a lot of dead branches which we have not had the opportunity to clear and may not do in any case unless we need branches for more coyote fencing.

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