The Bosque is home to many species of diving and dabbling ducks. A determined female goldeneye (above) gets a running start across the water in preparation for take-off.
Eagle on Ice
An adult bald eagle eats a meal while balanced on a frozen pond. Eagles, hawks, and other raptors draw legions of birders to the Bosque.
Birds aren’t the Bosque’s only wildlife; mule deer are regular sightings.
Sandhill Cranes among Snow Geese
A pair of sandhill cranes dance and call amid a pond full of snow geese.
Snow geese fly out of the Bosque del Apache
Thousands of snow geese fly out of the Bosque del Apache in the early morning hours, illuminated by a full moon.
photographs by Mark L. Watson
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge comes alive in the coldest months
The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, in San Antonio, New Mexico, was established in 1939 as a stopover point for migrating waterfowl. Though it is busy all year round and especially during the spring and fall migrations, in winter the 57,331-acre refuge becomes the temporary home for tens of thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese, who take advantage of the refuge’s many ponds, lakes, and fields to rest, feed, and socialize. The early morning fly-outs and evening fly-ins are astounding sights, drawing birders, photographers, and nature lovers eager to witness the surprisingly orderly—if deafening—mass movements of these amazing creatures. The Bosque is one of New Mexico’s most impressive natural treasures. If you visit during the winter, an overnight trip will help you make the most of an already remarkable experience.—Amy Gross
MARK L. WATSON