This is last post about our trip to New Mexico and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (unless my husband eventually wades through his photos and provides me some good owl pictures…or photos from when he went to the Very Large Array). Our last field trip of the festival was with a refuge biologist…to talk about endangered species they are providing habitat for. We spent the most time on the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse which are already hibernating in November. Winter is the time of year when the refuge managers tweak the habitats to help the endangered species; for the mouse they provide areas for day nests, maternal nests, food (the mice like seeds on stalks), saturated soils. The mice can swim the irrigation canals but have problems climbing up steep banks…and avoiding the bull frogs there that can eat them!
We saw a Great Blue Heron in an area that will be reworked with the mouse in mind and it will be better for other wildlife as well.
The refuge has milkweed….and supports monarchs in season. The pods looked a little different than the common milkweed we have in Maryland…but I knew it was a milkweed relative as soon as I saw it.
The Southwest Willow Flycatcher is also a species they manage for. The bird will nest in salt cedar but the invasive plant is a fire hazard (burns very hot and fast); the refuge is removing it and encourages the native willows to return. That is the natural progression from grassy meadows in the area so there is some balance to helping the mouse (that needs meadow) and having good stands of willows for the flycatcher.
We went back to a part of the refuge not on the wildlife loop and saw turkeys.
One jumped over an irrigation ditch….the others went down into the ditch and back up rather than making the jump!
This field trip was the most detailed discussion of the festival about the behind the scenes work done on the refuge for the wildlife that makes this place home – for the whole year or just for part of the year.