Home News Vision Nature moves on — it’s migration time

Nature moves on — it’s migration time

Submitted Photo Thousands of migrating birds, including sandhill cranes, are arriving at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Steve Alvarez

Bitter Lake National

Wildlife Refuge

Who would have ever imagined that refuge operations would be severely disrupted and partially closed due to a major pandemic? As the world endures the COVID-19 crisis, many of us have become isolated in our homes. It is comforting to know that the rhythms of nature continue all around us.

Pushed down by colder temperatures of the north, thousands of birds began their annual migration south. Overhead the loud cackling sounds of Sandhill cranes announce to everyone that fall has arrived at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. As leaves begin to fall, warblers and other small songbirds begin to dart among the bushes and trees along the Butterfly Trail and visitor center parking area. Refuge staff have released spring water into the pools and wetland units to prepare for wintering waterfowl. Already hundreds of ducks have appeared as the traditional migration gets underway.

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For years and years, the wetland marshes of the refuge have been a magnet to migratory birds. Located on the central flyway, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge plays a crucial role in wildlife conservation as a migratory stopover for loafing, feeding and resting.

Although the visitor center is closed and the Cranes and Cocoa special viewing event has been canceled, hiking trails and the wildlife driving tour remain open to the public. If you’re tired of being cooped up in your house and looking for something special to do, come out to see the thousands and thousands of Sandhill Cranes just arriving on the refuge. At the peak of migration, over 25,000 Sandhill Cranes have been recorded flying into Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Around sunrise and just before sunset are the best viewing times to see Sandhill Cranes.

The end of October through the first two weeks of November is the highest crane count on the refuge.

The wildlife driving tour is free and open during daylight hours. So get your mind off the troubles of the world and fill your spirits with the sights and sounds of nature. Take a break and come out to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Remember to “keep your distance and bring a mask.”

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