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11/18/2014 11:16 AM EST

First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. All this week, thousands of people will flock to the area, celebrating both the refuge’s birthday and the Festival of the Cranes. An annual event, the festival celebrates the migration of sandhill cranes to their wintering grounds at the refuge. Every fall, Bosque del Apache’s sandhill crane population swells from 18 birds to more than 20,000 birds.
Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (