Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bosque del Apache - part 1

There are many workshops offered at Bosque del Apache during the Festival of the Cranes. Our first workshop we signed up for was about prairie dogs. We were told that there are five known species found from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Out of these species we were told that one is threatened, one endangered, and the other 3 species have suffered a 95% decline in the last century. Most of the decline has to do with loss of habitat. Prairie dogs are considered "colonial squirrels" and the black-tailed prairie dog can be found in southern New Mexico as well as other Rocky Mountain states, plus Nebraska and Texas. You can learn more about these cute mammals here, here, and here. During this past summer the black-tailed prairie dog was re-introduced at the refuge in two locations. One of the locations is just off the highway near the tour loop entrance, where there is a pull-off so visitors can watch them. You may want to click on the photos below to get a larger image of these cute little animals. Even though I had a zoom lens at 300mm, it was still difficult to get a decent picture of them. As you can see, they blend in beautifully with their environment.

Our second workshop for the day was about a New Mexico Important Bird Area - a wetland in the Desert. I never would have thought that there actually is a wetland existing on Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB), and open to the public. The base constructed the wetlands several years ago and it was declared an IBA in 2002 by the National Audubon Society's New Mexico chapter. HAFB has two large bodies of water attracting many unlikely migrants during spring and fall, and it even provides wintering grounds, too. Here is a checklist of the birds for that area. I'm hoping that one of these times when we return to the Bosque refuge we will take the time and drive over to the air force base and check out the wetlands.

Following the presentation we were treated to meeting a few educational birds. I cannot remember the name of the group who provided the birds, but it is a New Mexico rehabilitation center. The first two photos are an albino black-crowned night heron. The rehab center thought that this bird was showing signs that it could be released back into the wild, but upon further observation they realized that the bird probably would not survive.

This is a western screech owl. I didn't realize how small this birds are. It was only about 8 inches tall. I love those beautiful big yellow eyes. Don't you?

And here is another 8-inch bird - a burrowing owl. This owl lost its left eye, so hunting would be a problem for it.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a fun day. I love these opportunities to see the critters up close.

I like the new look on the blog, too.

Linda in Erie said...

What a great experience! Seeing those birds up close like that would be really interesting. I love that little owl! We were at a zoo (I can't remember which one) during our travels and one had this great prairie-dog city. We spent a long time just watching the prairie dogs interact. They are really cute.

Lynne said...

It sounds like a day I would love too. You new blog decor is beautiful!

Merry Christmas Mary!

Red said...

I wouldn't have expected a wetland open to the public on the base either.

Merry Christmas Mom!

Zhakee said...

I always find albino animals to be interesting creatures. I wonder if most albinos really are easy prey, or if the gene is just too recessive for many such creatures to be born.

Mel said...

Hola Mary,
Love the new template!!
¡¡¡Feliz Navidad!!!
Merry Christmas!!!
Hugs from Peru,

Mary C said...

Hi Wren. I like seeing the birds up close and personal, too. And I really love it when we are allowed to take pictures. Glad you like the new design. My daughter, Red, is my graphic designer.

Hi Linda. It's always neat to see birds up close for educational purposes. But it was a "special" delight to see an albino bird. I'm so glad you got to see a prairie dog town in your travels. Aren't they cute? They are such social animals - well, at least with their own species.

Thanks, Lynne! I hope your Christmas was great! We enjoyed our Christmas and I'm taking Friday off as well to make my holiday even nicer.

Hi Red. It does seem odd to have a wetland in the middle of a high desert. But then, we've known that there are oases all around high, dry country in the west. It's obvious that man-made lakes are quite helpful to birds and other animals.

Hi Zhakee. Hope you enjoyed your Christmas. I was wondering if albino birds are few and far between. Or as you mentioned, are they easy prey and we don't get to see that many. It's known that many folks see quite a few leucistic birds. But pure albinos? I tend to think it's rare.

Hola Mel! Feliz Navidad to you! Glad you like the new design. My daughter, Red, is the designer. I felt that it was time for a change. I wanted something different, and since my daughter is talented in her designs it gives me the opportunity to show off her "stuff!"

simimac said...

hi, I'm the person holding the albino black crowned night heron. The organization I'm with is Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico. :)

Mary C said...

Thank you, simimac! Thanks for visiting, too. Will you be at the Bosque this year, too? My husband and I are flying into ABQ on Monday, heading down to Elephant Butte for Tuesday's event. We'll stay in Socorro beginning Tuesday night and throughout the remainder of the festival.


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