Cranes Return to the Rio Grande Bosque

This morning we took Owen, the namesake dog for this blog, for a walk in the Los Poblanos (the village) farm. Albuquerque sensibly protected crop fields along the Rio Grande Bosque from being transformed into residential real estate tracts.Los Poblanos combines working commercial fields (corn, alfalfa, and millet) with community plots where individuals can grow their own veggies and flowers. They also have a wonderful inn.

In Los Poblanos, we’ve observed road runners, a wide variety of birds, and coyotes in this diverse environment. And, during the winter, sandhill cranes.

The western flock of sandhill cranes spend most of the year in Northern Canada and even as far away as Siberia. But like many of our Canadian friends, they flee the frozen north to vacation further south in the United States.

The eastern sub-flock use the Platte River valley as a resting point before settling in for the winter in Texas. They are hypnotic to watch.

The western sub-flock follow the Rio Grande flyway into central and southern New Mexico where they settle in the river bottoms from Albuquerque south to the Bosque del Apache. We are fortunate to co-habit the bosque with the cranes from their arrival in mid-October to their departure to the north country in February-March.

Snow geese share the New Mexico flyways with the cranes, migrating at the same time.
Canadian geese also hang out in the area with the cranes and snow geese

In Albuquerque, the cranes graze in the farm fields along the river and move further afield into city park land and drainage arroyos. Everywhere, they make one or another of their distinctive clicks and clack calls.

Wonderfully Wierd Bosque Art

Guest blog by Ray Shortridge

Hikers in the Rio Grande River Bosque come across some curious things that add Albuquerque’s reputation for quirkiness. These public art pieces are installed within the Bosque and other open spaces rather than along the city thoroughfares.

The cottonwood in Robert Wilson’s The Cube represents the life sustaining power of the bosque. The city of Albuquerque is symbolized by the repurposed fencing of the cube that surrounds the woodlands.

Encountering Arboreal Dome by Benjamin Forgey brings to mind the black monolith in the classic film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

However, Forgey envisioned the structure, constructed of dead cottonwood limbs, to be a recreational place for picnics, storytelling, and the like. He also felt that some would quietly reflect while gazing through the dome.

Decades ago, steel jetty jacks were constructed to prevent erosion when the river overflowed its banks. They proved to be ineffective but were too costly to remove. The rusty structures remind one of “Rommel’s asparagus” defense works along coastal France prior to D-Day.

In her work, Salt Cedar + Jetty Jacks = Green, Jill Guarino Brown used a jetty jack as the frame for a funnel woven from salt cedars to demonstrate a repurposing of the metal structures as a mechanism for harvesting water.

Several artists teamed to produce The Web a land art piece that suggests the wonders of the bosque’s interconnected natural and human ecology.

An unknown artist used a slice of a tree trunk and pieces of bark to create a totem of a great horned owl, many of which live in the Bosque.

Perhaps, the little people who dwell in the Bosque built this elf circle.

Fairies, perhaps, but beaver definitely live in the Bosque and create their own distinctive sculpture.

The metal sculpture of dancing sandhill cranes is situated near an access point to multi-purpose trails through the Bosque. This piece reminds one of the annual migration of the cranes down the Rio Grande flyway from the Arctic in late fall and their departure in early spring.

Now that you know that these delightful pieces of art are hiding in Albuquerque’s bisque, will you seek them out?