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Hundreds of sandhill cranes get ready for their morning fly-out to their chosen place to feed (photo left).

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Bosque of the birds

Every winter morning 100,000 birds take flight from the still waters of this New Mexico refuge

It’s a cold, crisp predawn, with the temperature in the 20s in the central Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Then the silence cracks, with a single quack from the rustling snow geese, then another and another. Soon, a cacophonous chorus of snow geese and sandhill cranes fills the morning air — the signal the fly-out is about to begin.

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