|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, in southern Socorro County, New Mexico, is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It sits near the Rio Grande astride New Mexico Route 1, formerly U.S. Highway 85. The refuge was founded in 1939.|
The refuge comprises approximately 3,800 acres (15 km2) of Rio Grande floodplain, 9,100 acres (37 km2) of irrigated farms and wetlands, and a further 44,300 acres (179 km2) of arid grasslands and foothills of the Chupadera and San Pascual Mountains. 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 have been found there. A twelve mile (19 km) long loop road allows automobile drivers excellent views of the wetlands and there are several short (1.5 to 10 miles) walking trails. The road affords good views of the fields where crops are grown for the benefit of the birds under cooperative agreements with farmers. Adjacent to the Visitor's Center, a desert plant garden is maintained. In the Chihuahuan desert terrain outside of the Rio Grande riparian zone, the refuge also hosts three federally designated Wilderness areas (Chupadera, Little San Pascual, and Indian Well).
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. Although winter sunsets and especially sunrises are chilly, the daily low temperature is seldom far below freezing. Visitors typically stay in the nearby RV park or in Socorro or San Antonio.
The name of the refuge means "woods of the Apache" in Spanish, referring to a former campsite there. In English it is pronounced "BOSkee del aPATCHee".
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