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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Morning Flyout

Flyout Sound
(If you do not see audio control above, please click Flyout Sound

The morning flyout of light geese occurs a few minutes before or after local sunrise. Geese that roosted in other areas overnight tend to flock before dawn to the large pond between the Refuge entrance booth and the Flight Deck to join those that roosted here overnight. They usually congregate in thousands toward the southwest corner of the pond. You'll see them slowly drifting around on the water while they appear to discuss their plans for the day. They are quite noisy.

Eventually they decide to go look for food in grain fields to the north. When they all respond to the same subtle trigger, they leave in one thunderous explosion of thousands of wings. The pond empties in only a few seconds, and multiple layers of geese fly low overhead at different altitudes and slightly different headings, frantically calling and honking to keep family groups together.

The sound clip below was recorded on such a morning. The first 20 seconds of the clip has the preflight conversation among the geese. At 20 seconds into the clip you hear the roar of thousands of wings as the geese take off. Within 10 seconds virtually all the geese are airborne, and their cries slowly fade away as they fly off to the north.

Sometimes they space their departure in smaller flocks of hundreds of birds instead of thousands at once. Even then, the event is spectacular. The photo above was taken after roughly half of the birds in the pond had left earlier. The remaining geese, probably several thousand, then left in one big flock.

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