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Every November, New Mexico holds the Festival of the Cranes to celebrate the migratory return of Sandhill Cranes to the wetlands along the Rio Grande River. In addition to the cranes, there are tens of thousands of ducks and geese that migrate to the area as well.
The birds come from the northern US and Canada to roost in the shallow waters of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where they spend the winter months. Some birds come from as far away as the Arctic regions.
The refuge was created specifically for migratory birds. Corn and wheat are grown for bird food in the fields surrounding the waters, and several areas are flooded by ground water pumps prior to the arrival of the migratory flocks. Roosting in the shallows helps protect the birds from the numerous predatory animals that live in the Rio Grande Valley; coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. Birders come from around the world to see and photograph the spectacular views of water fowl. Most people come to see the birds leave from their water roost at sunrise or when they return at sundown. The flocks spend the day foraging for grains in the surrounding fields. The mountain vistas seen from the valley and the sounds of thousands of birds are an unforgettable experience.