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Birds make home at refuge

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By David Giuliani

The snow may have melted in Las Vegas, but snow geese are still blanketing the Las Vegas Wildlife National Refuge.

An estimated 4,000 geese (Canada and snow geese) are using the refuge as a winter home.  

The geese feed in crop fields that are planted by the refuge’s staff for the geese’s benefit.

Also calling Las Vegas home are an estimated 1,000 sandhill cranes. Visitors to the refuge can see these birds and their aerial display by going to the Fred Quintana Crane Lake Overlook in the morning and evening, where the birds lift off and return to their roost site in Crane Lake.  The booming sound of hundreds of wings as they take off is striking.

By driving the refuge tour loop formed by N.M. Highway 281 and County Road 22C, the birds can be seen throughout the day feeding on the refuge crop fields. Visitors are encouraged to  bring binoculars to enhance their viewing of this wildlife spectacle and cameras to capture their own images.

The Fred Quintana Crane Lake Overlook is open sunrise to sunset and the refuge tour loop is open 24 hours a day, conditions permitting,

From 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, refuge staff are usually available to assist visitors with wildlife viewing tips and directions at the Refuge Visitor Center.