By Chris Judson
BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT
Join Bandelier in February as the park continues to celebrate the Year of the Bird! This year is the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. Throughout 2018, we will be joining National Geographic, the Audubon Society and numerous other organizations around the country in recognizing this milestone by celebrating the Year of the Bird.
For this month’s bird, park staff chose the Rocky Mountain Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis). Though this bird rarely lands in Bandelier, it can frequently be seen and heard migrating over the park on its way south in late October or back to the northern Rockies in late February. During the winter, tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes can be seen at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is located 160 miles south of the park. Bandelier will be posting fun facts on social media all month long about these elegant, social birds. For instance, the oldest known Sandhill Crane lived to be 36 years old!
Bandelier will also be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, which runs from February 16-19. Everyone is encouraged to count the birds in their backyard (or other birding hotspots) for at least 15 minutes each day and record them at gbbc.birdcount.org. In 2017, bird watchers on six continents observed 6,257 species. The 2018 count should break that record! Sightings become part of the global snapshot to help track population density, health, and movements of birds for scientists and conservationists. Check out https://feederwatch.org/learn/common-feeder-birds/ to see common feeder birds in the local area, what they eat, and what their favorite feeders are.
Bandelier will hold an official event on Friday, February 16 from 8:30 am to 11 am. There will be three stations around the park including one at the Bandelier Visitor Center, one at the Burnt Mesa Trailhead, and one at Ponderosa Campground. Everyone is invited to come and see what birds can be found. All ages welcome and no reservations required!
For more information, contact the Bandelier Visitor Center at 505-672-3861 x 517, or follow the park Facebook or Twitter at BandelierNPS.