You know winter is near when you spot sandhill cranes in New Mexico.
“Their habitats include grasslands, meadows, wetlands and they come from Alaska, Canada, western Quebec and some can travel as far as Siberia,” said Kent Swanson, manager of the Open Space Visitor Center. “They winter in the United States and northern Mexico so they’re on their path on they’re flight back. They spend the time here in New Mexico feeding over winter so they can migrate back in the springtime. They’re all tied into our mission of protecting the habitat for the crane and other species as well.”
Open Space Visitor Center commemorates the birds arrival with the Return of the Sandhill Crane Celebration. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.
“The sandhill cranes are really remarkable in their natural history and they’re just incredible birds to watch and kind of iconic so we always like to celebrate their return,” Swanson said. “They’re one of the oldest species of birds in the world. It’s a really unique part of Albuquerque and reflects the importance of preserving habitats like the Rio Grande valley, the bosque, and in particular farmlands throughout the valley because that’s where the cranes like to feed in the open areas and agricultural fields. At the Visitors Center, we like to teach visitors about the ecology of the cranes, the importance of their habitats, and just appreciation of their cultural significance and environmental significance as well.”
The celebration will include a number of events including a guided nature walk at 8 a.m., Tai Chi with the Cranes with Sifu Dug Corpolongo, a bird meet and greet with Wildlife Rescue at 10 a.m.; Craneology 101 with Ariel Allen of Valle de Oro, storytelling, poetry and more. Maple Street Dance Space’s Ballet-Afrique Crane Dance Trio performs at 1 p.m.