Massive Flock of Snow Geese Taking Flight

A guy taking a walk at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico encountered this enormous congregation snow geese getting ready to takeoff. The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is located in southern New Mexico. It was founded in 1939 and is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The name of the refuge means “woods of the Apache” in Spanish, named for the Apache tribes that once camped in the forests along the Rio Grande. There have been 358 different bird species observed in the Bosque del Apache since 1981. The wetlands attract the huge flocks of wintering cranes and geese that are the refuge’s most interesting feature. Many other species—notably waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey—also winter in the refuge. Striking vagrants such as a groove-billed ani and Rufous-necked Wood-rail have been found there. The diversity of birds is also high in spring, particularly the last week of April and first week of May, and in fall. In summer the area is hot but many water birds can be found, including such New Mexico rarities as the least bittern and occasionally the little blue heron. Late November to late February is the best time for large numbers of birds, typically over 10,000 sandhill cranes and over 20,000 Ross’s and snow geese. An annual ‘festival of the cranes’ is held the weekend before Thanksgiving as large numbers of cranes begin arriving in the refuge. Winter visitors generally plan to be in the refuge at sunrise or sunset, when the flocks of cranes and geese that roost in the refuge “commute” to or from local fields where they feed.

Video by Geoffrey Glassne