Birding in the Bosque

After spending 26 years teaching first grade in Albuquerque, Cristina Ortega needed a second act. A curious adventurer since she was a child, her college roommate at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, piqued her interest in birds in the 1970s. When she retired from teaching in 2005, Cristina bought a nicer camera and got serious.

Cristina is now an avid volunteer with Friends of the Bosque del Apache and spends much of her free time at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge watching cranes – a pastime that draws thousands of visitors from around the world annually. And avid birders like Cristina can attest, photos and videos of the Bosque are simply breathtaking – but there’s nothing like experiencing it in person!

Cristina Ortega


Sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Located in San Antonio in Socorro County, between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, is the Bosque del Apache – a picturesque refuge for migrating waterfowl. The 57,331-acre Bosque del Apache was established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover site for migrating waterfowl. The Bosque is a birder’s paradise. It’s known for the tens of thousands of cranes, geese, and ducks who come here every winter, attracting visitors from around the world for unparalleled birding, photography, and more.


Bosque del Apache

Hiking in the Bosque

Bosque del Apache has twelve great nature trails that provide a variety of sights and sounds for visitors to experience. Journey through cattails, wander through salt grass meadows, enjoy sweeping views of the landscapes, and more during your visit. From quick, easy trails to longer, more difficult treks, there’s a scenic adventure for everyone! Plan your trip using their trail guide which lists each trail’s difficulty level, accessibility, and even the birds and wildlife you might encounter along the way!


Three sandhill cranes in wetlands

Festival of the Cranes

Celebrate the return of the cranes! Avid birders from around the world head to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge every fall to view the spectacular site of thousands of waterfowl soaring the skies. Organized by the Friends of Bosque del Apache, the annual Festival of the Cranes also has several other activities for visitors to enjoy.


Copy of Wilsons Warbler

More Birding Across New Mexico

With about 500 different birds on New Mexico’s state bird list, it’s no surprise New Mexico is a top destination for birders! Find your next favorite birding location or get connected with one of the state’s Audubon Societies with our quick guide to birding across New Mexico.

Other Things to See in The Area

Very Large Array Radio Telescope

Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA)

Located about 50 miles west of Socorro, the Very Large Array, or VLA, is one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories. The 27 radio antennas raising from the plains of San Agustin have become a popular stop for travelers to take photos and enjoy a staff-led tour and an inside look at VLA operations.


Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences (or “T or C” as it’s called by the locals) has long been a destination for wellness tourism. Today, T or C is one of America’s most affordable spa towns and its charmingly restored hotels and spas and wide variety of restaurants and shops gives a wholly unique laid-back vide to relax in.


san miguel socorro


Socorro is full of small-town charm, rich history and culture, and even cutting-edge technology. You’ll find a wide range of attractions and activities to fill your days here, including outdoor recreation, radio telescopes, a wildlife refuge, historic mission church and plaza, a thriving art scene, and more.


Pies from Pietown, NM.

Pie Town, NM

Hope you brought an appetite! Exit I-25 in Socorro and head west on U.S. Highway 60, or “PieWay 60” – the road to Pie Town! Pie Town is a can’t miss adventure for any foodie in the area. From Pi Day (3/14) through Thanksgiving, hungry travelers can stop by the beloved Pie-O-Neer. But call ahead – once they sell out of pie, they shut down for the day.