Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

The Sandhill cranes are big birds about 3 feet tall, gray with the bright red spot on top of their head. Cranes, as well as the geese, migrate down from their nesting areas in Alaska and Canada in the fall to winter along the Rio Grande River, mostly at the Bosque del Apache Refuge which is about 2 hour drive south of us. There are a lot of these birds that go to Texas to winter, too. They usually start arriving here in November. In late winter, about now, they start their migration back north to the nesting grounds. There used to be so many of these unique birds that it was unbeleivable. My grandmother told me of watching them in the fields especially of doing the stange dance they do when mating. I have seen this at other times but none were doing it on this day. The sandhills almost were gone at one time but they came under the protection of many bird groups and now there are lots of them again. If you are lucky and I mean very lucky you might see one of the extreamly rare hooping cranes in with the sandhills. The hoopers are almost white and taller. I did get to see one at a distance in the Bosque del Apache Refuge a long time ago. We had planned to go there but decided it was to far on this day. Link to the Bosque del Apache http://

And a link to the Rio Grande Nature Center http://

This state park of New Mexico is set on the edge of the Rio Grande River in an older section of the city of Albuquerque about 20 miles from my home. The nature center is home to many native plants and animals and lots of birds. There are many people who enjoy birding that come here to see the birds that live here and the ones that are just passing through as were the geese and cranes that we saw yesterday when we went there. It has been about 10 years since I have been here but not much had changed except then it cost $1 to get in and now it is $3 per car. We didn't see any of the sandhill cranes in the park but did in a field as we were leaving. One of the most interesting birds we saw was way off at a distance and I didn't get a close shot of him. It was a Kingfisher bird which I had never seen before.

He is the tiny bird in the top of the tree in the photo.

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