Just before sunlight hits New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in November, visitors can hear the squawking of ducks, geese and cranes. In a roar of wings, thousands of these birds take flight at dawn - an event most viewers consider a highlight of the annual Festival of the Cranes. "Then, during the fly-in, there is wave after wave of cranes and snow geese landing," says refuge volunteer Anna Appleby. The annual festival started in 1989, and now offers visitors a chance to tour the refuge with a biologist, learn about nature photography or take an on-the-water birding tour to see sandhill cranes, cormorants, western grebes and white pelicans, among others.

To order a brochure or to register for the Festival of the Cranes, Nov. 16-19 in Socorro, N.M., call 505/835-0424 or check out www.friendsofthebosque.org.