Fear not, little flock

During the Christmas season our large family gets up at “o-dark-thirty” to beat the sunrise 75 miles south at the Bosque Del Apache bird refuge. The refuge is a large area of ponds and lakes and cornfields in central New Mexico. Our goal is to catch sight of the hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, and cranes as they take flight to seek food for the day. We have gone in rain and sleet and snow and bone-chilling cold, but the trip wakes us to gratitude for the wonders of our world.

Each year we watch as one bird flexes his wings and rises followed by the others. My husband, Mike, always said, “He’s the Grand Kahuna telling them it’s time to get up.” There is a strumming and a swishing sound as the birds fly overhead. Sometimes they fly over us in one direction, only to retrace their flight and fly over us again. Some are close to us and we can see them as individuals, some farther away as specks in formation. We listen and watch as flock after flock ascends. I am always reminded of the birds’ innate knowledge that each day food is waiting for them in the river estuaries, farms, and pastures hundreds of miles around the Bosque refuge. Through the winter we often see them feeding in the pasture on our own farm, only to return that night to the Bosque.

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