bosque del apache, sandhill cranes

Cranes Wading : Prints Available

In early morning light, these sandhill cranes wade from their night roost before taking flight to graze in nearby fields. Bosque Del Apache is a well-known birding location, particularly for winter waterfowl. The refuge is winter range for sandhill cranes of the Rocky Mountain Population, which migrate from Bosque to Greater Yellowstone (with stops in Colorado) in spring, returning in fall. 


Grus canadensis


A long awaited trip to Bosque Del Apache finally became a reality this year and this world-class refuge lived up to the hype. I made the trip to photograph the Rocky Mountain Population of sandhill cranes on their winter range. They’ll stay here until late February, then start their migration north, making a couple of stops in Colorado, eventually dispersing throughout Greater Yellowstone in April. They return to Bosque in autumn. It’s a journey they’ve made for millions of years and they need us to conserve critical habitat for their long-term survival. Long live sandhill cranes! More images follow

sandhill cranes, Bosque

Sandhill Roost Flight : Prints Available

A pair of sandhill cranes return to roost in evening light that belies the chilly December air. Bosque is important winter refuge for sandhill cranes of the Rocky Mountain Population and many waterfowl species. These cranes will migrate north to Greater Yellowstone in spring, making a few stops in Colorado to rest and refuel. They'll return with juveniles in fall, just like the last few million years.

Grus canadensis

snow geese, corn field

Drop In : Prints Available

A trio of snow geese twist and turn as they drop into a cornfield in late afternoon light. At times, they comicly look like kernels of pocorn making their descent. 

Chen caerulescens

bosque del apache nwr, snow geese

Snow Goose Mass Lift Off : Prints Available

Bosque Del Apache NWR is often about volume, both in number and the deafening sound of birds. Here, a few thousand snow geese explode from a corn field before settling down moments later. In times like these it's good to be wearing a hat.

Chen caerulescens

bosque, pintail ducks

Pintail Rush : Prints Available

A large flock of pintail ducks explode from a cold, foggy wetland and over the heads of roosting sandhill cranes. Bosque Del Apache NWR is an important refuge for waterfowl, particularly in winter. 

snow geese, bosque del apache

Morning Rush : Prints Available

Snow geese swirl around a small pond in early morning before landing for a short time. The geese, which number 40,000 in winter had left their evening roost and used this pond as a short stopover before heading to corn fields for daytime feeding. 

Chen caerulescens

sandhill crane, migrate

Taking Flight : Prints Available

A pair of sandhill cranes take flight in a Bosque Del Apache wetland. Bosque is an important waterfowl refuge and winter range for sandhill cranes of the Rocky Mountain Population. These Greater sandhill cranes migrate between New Mexico and Greater Yellowstone in spring and fall, as they have for millions of years. Remarkable creatures for many reasons, sandhills are living dinosaurs. 

Grus canadensis


And a little adventure for spicy sauce! Marla joined me during the week and we hiked to the top of Chupadera Mountain in the Chupadera Wilderness. The wind was howling, views spoiled, and we had a great time.

12 thoughts on “Bosque!

    1. Thanks Hank! Your outstanding work helped stoke the fire… it takes a little while to get to know the place and each situation presents a unique set of challenges. I’m sure glad that we have such great digital technology!

  1. Great stuff, Dave! Though I’ve never attempted any serious photography there, I do love the Bosque. It’s awesome that you made it up Chupadera, too. That shot’s probably not a wall-hanger for anyone, but it’s actually very evocative for me of winter exploring in southern New Mexico.

    1. I appreciate the comment Jackson. The Bosque trip changed my view of cranes in a number of ways. I’ve photographed them along their migration route all the way to Yellowstone country and I see more clearly how much they need us to have quality habitat for long term sustainability. The California population isn’t doing well because their habitat is so marginalized. Making room for wildlife, regardless of whatever sort of development is happening, needs to be a top priority.

  2. Great job Walt! Your hard work paid off again, some great shots of cranes, ducks and geese. So right about having to wear a hat when they lift off….my black down coat is draped in white bird poo…….but still we had fun! Maybe next year when we hike up Chupadera, we’ll see the gorgeous views…..

  3. Nice job capturing some intriguing birds, and giving such a great visual accounting of it! Love the winter backdrops and the way you’ve used them in contrast to the grays and whites of the geese and cranes. Another great adventure and exploration to chalk up! Thanks so much for capturing these scenes in such a beautiful and vivid way, Sho!

  4. Dave and Marla,
    Thank you for these great photos…I am remembering my father being so excited that we had a pair of sandhill cranes nesting on our portion of the East Gallatin River outside of Bozeman. It was a great thrill. Love to hear of your adventures and to see your beautiful photography.

    1. Thanks for sharing your father’s excitement, a great memory and cranes have that affect on many people. These are descendents of those same cranes, still making the Bosque -> Greater Yellowstone migration.

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