New Monthly Events as Part of Bringing the Refuge and our partners to You

We are excited to see you at Crane Fiesta 2021! We are currently planning this year’s virtual event, and while we get ready, please enjoy these monthly photography webinars!

Having trouble registering? Call JulieAnna at 575-405-8434 for assistance!

The art of finding birds, and ways to skillfully and ethically approach them

If you are new to photography and birding, or have been in the field for decades there will always be something else to learn. The most rewarding thing about the practice of Wildlife photography is that the unexpected is the norm, and in many ways what we as naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts live for. In this workshop I hope to help you find ways to get yourselves into unique situations with wildlife, and to offer new methods to deepen your understanding of how birds interact with various habitats and landscapes. In conjunction with this we will explore how to ethically and mindfully move through wild landscapes to leave minimal impact on our feathered friends.

We will explore techniques and tools used to find birds.

  • Understanding how to learn vocalizations and bird language from bird finding and ethical perspectives.
  • Using tools like EBird and migration maps
  • Reading landscapes for bird diversity
  • Searching for hotspots in our local area
  • Drips, Blinds, and Hides.
  • Is there a case for the ethical use of playback?

Ethics of Wildlife Photography

  • Laws that protect birds
  • The Big Baiting Problem
  • How to approach other photographers in ways that build community rather that create rifts.
  • Spotting photos in social media where the bird has been clearly baited.
  • Owls and other sensitive species.

The most important thing I hope everyone who joins this workshop walks away with is that wildlife photography should be fun, challenging, rewarding and equitable.

Date: Friday, December 17th, 2021
Time: 2:30 MDT
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar.

Theodore Emery has been a naturalist for over 20 years, and holds a bachelor’s degree in ornithology and is currently pursuing a masters in High school science education. His work as a wildlife photographer has been featured in various publications and books around the world. Recently he has moved away from competitions and publications to pursue the creation of networks where photographers can mentor and find each-other. He strongly believes that nature connection, conservation, and fun are the most important tenets to his wildlife photography and aims to promote that in the community.

Hard and Soft Light

Hard and Soft Light are very different types of light. Although they are not very different to the human eye, when this light is captured through the camera sensor, you must work with different camera settings and subjects. In this presentation Henry shows some of the benefits and disadvantages to each type of light as well as showing examples of his own images in the different lighting.

Date: Friday, January 14th, 2022
Time: 4:30 MDT
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar.

Henry is a 17 year old nature photographer that specializes in wildlife and landscapes. Henry is in his third year of photography, and is working towards one day making his passion his job. Henry loves being out in nature and bringing a slice of that nature home through the lens of his camera.

Wildlife Photography in National Wildlife Refuges

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida. Today there are more than 560 national wildlife refuges in the U.S. with at least one in every state. Professional and award-winning nature photographer, Dawn Wilson, is on a mission to visit each refuge and document some of the reasons why the National Wildlife Refuge System is so important for our wildlife. During this presentation, Dawn will talk about the refuges she has visited, share some of her experiences at the refuges, talk about photographing in the refuges, and ideas for some of the best refuges for photography.

Date: Friday, February 11th, 2022
Time: 4:30 MDT
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar.

Dawn Wilson is a professional and award-winning nature photographer specializing in images and stories about wildlife of high latitudes and high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains and Alaska. Dawn’s text and photography has appeared in numerous regional and national publications, including Colorado LifeColorado OutdoorsWyoming WildlifeOutdoor PhotographerMotorHome magazine, Nature’s Best Photography, and many others. In addition to her editorial work, Dawn leads multiple workshops each year to photograph wildlife, such as brown bears in Alaska and birds of Louisiana. She also leads photo tours in Rocky Mountain National Park. She currently serves as President of the North American Nature Photography Association.

Photographing Birds on the Wing

Join Ruth Hoyt as she shares her knowledge and tips on photographing birds in flight. In this program you will learn about birds, bird behavior, techniques for capturing flight shots and using sound, ethical methods for doing so.

In addition, Ruth discusses differences in camera gear and techniques she uses when photographing from photo blinds versus when working in the field. Be prepared to enjoy a bonus in the program, which reveals photos of her using her float tube blind and kayak for working on various birds in and near water.

Date: Friday, March 30th, 2022
Time: 2:30 MDT
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar.

Ruth Hoyt is a full-time professional nature photographer, writer, public speaker, workshop leader, coach and consultant with 30+ years of experience teaching nature photography. She is also a Certified Interpretive Guide (national) and Certified Texas Master Naturalist (through Texas Parks & Wildlife), certified in both since 2009.

She is best known for her Texas bird photography and professional guiding services and workshops on private south Texas ranches, but she also pursues landscape, flora, macro, night and much more in locations across the United States.

Ruth used her Canon 1DX Mark III DSLR until last year when she purchased a new Canon R5 mirrorless camera. She uses an iPhone and DJI Phantom drone for selected subjects.

Her work includes large canvas gallery-wrapped prints as well as mounted prints using archival, museum-quality paper. Her work can be seen in permanent public locations in various states as well as Texas hospitals, private offices and visitors’ centers.

For current work, visit her Instagram account at @ruthhoytphoto or visit her studio at the McAllen Creative Incubator, 601 N. Main Street, McAllen, Texas. Contact her through her website at, phone at (956) 330-2900 or email at 

Previous Webinars

Becoming a Better Wildlife Photographer

Field techniques and planning to improve your work.

 Hector shared the techniques that he uses while in the field photographing wildlife.  Perspective, camera settings, reaction time, and composing in camera are some of the topics he discussed. He also guided registrants on how to plan ahead for their photography field trips.

Hector D. Astorga is a full-time wildlife photographer based in South Texas.  His love of nature and the outdoors began as a child in his native country, Honduras.  He is the ranch manager of the Santa Clara Ranch, a photography destination that hosts wildlife photographers from all over the world.  He leads and conducts photography tours and workshops at multiple locations in North, Central, and South America, Scandinavia, and Africa.
He has won numerous national and international awards for his work.  In 2019 one of his images won the wildlife division of the prestigious Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards.  With over 25,000 entries from photographers in 63 different countries, the Nature’s Best competition is one of the premier photography competitions in the world.  His images have also won the top awards in the NANPA Showcase, National Wildlife Federation Photo Competition, and the Wildlife in Focus and Valley Land Fund wildlife photography contests in Texas.
Hector is one of the “We Will Not Be Tamed” Ambassadors for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.  The ambassadors are a group of remarkable Texan outdoorsmen and women who stand together and tell stories about Texas, the place that has given them so much.  He uses his work for land and wildlife conservation in his home state.

Bird Photography 101

This presentation gave a breakdown how to get sharp beautiful images with your camera, learning the differences in full-frame sensors vs. cropped, and how it affects the quality of the image. Using your histogram for proper exposure, ISO settings, depth of field, proper shutter speeds for effect, composition, and more. During the session Maresa touched on field technique and etiquette.

Birding as a young child turned in to lifetime career as a natural history  photographer and leader for private photo tours specializing in bird  photography for herself and the North American Nature Photography  Association. 

Her travels include extraordinary places such as the Galapagos Islands,  Cuba, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Southern Africa. With over three  decades of photo credits including: Associated Press, Audubon, Living  Bird, National Geographic Books, National Wildlife, Ranger Rick, Reuters  News America, and is now represented by Danita Delimont. 

As a lifelong resident of Florida, Maresa now resides in New Mexico with  her husband of thirty years. She is the public lands chair for the Back  Country Horsemen of New Mexico. She has A.A. degree from Lake Sumter  State College in Leesburg, Florida, and studied at Daytona State College in  Photography.

Better Backyard Birds

Registrants learned the basics, and a few advanced tips, on setting up their backyard to take better bird photos. They learned what to look for in setting up perches, how to determine the best backgrounds, and how to “train” the birds to pose where they want them. The goal of the class was to help registrants get their best pictures yet of their backyard birds!

A long-time photographer and passionate bird photographer for the past 6 years. Steve is an Olympus Educator who has spoken at many of the larger birding festivals in the country including the Festival of the Cranes. He teaches bird photography to groups around the county and teaches workshops in the Pacific Northwest. A selection of his bird images cam be seen on Instagram @old_steve1

Photographing the Rio Grande

The Rio Grande river is among one of the most expansive and most diverse rivers in North America. It harbors an impressive diversity of wildlife, habitats, and supports an impressive ecosystem. It acts as a major migratory flyway for many species of birds, and is full of life during all seasons. Living along the Rio and photographing this amazing place almost daily offers a unique perspective into the life of the Rio Grande.

As a young photographer specializing in wildlife and nature, and based in Corrales, New Mexico, Owen Sinkus has always been interested in exploring and capturing the natural world. He has been doing photography for 3 years, and has been part of Audubon’s Birdathon. He loves photography and nature, and is passionate about teaching!

Photographing Birds – from portraits to flight

This instructional program represented a fundamental change in the approach today’s bird photographers could take when planning a bird photo shoot, especially when it comes to birds in flight!  Folks joined professional nature photographer Roman Kurywczak,  as he covered everything from gear,  to settings, and techniques, while also providing insight on some of the most common mistakes photographers make in this exciting field.

Roman Kurywczak is a professional nature photographer for over 17 years who conducts lectures and workshops across the globe. His boutique tour company, Roamin’ with Roman Photo Tours, caters to small groups (only 4 US) to provide the ultimate learning experience for participants. Whether he is out in Tanzania or standing before a roaring waterfall in Iceland, Roman’s energy and passion for nature photography are clearly evident.  You can often find him out in Arches or Yellowstone national park late at night photographing the nighttime landscapes and calling it fun! Closer to home, Roman will spend countless hours doing macro photography.  While he enjoys photographing insects, his favorite subject is flowers, which he buys for his wife and he is sticking to that story. Roman is equally comfortable photographing landscapes, macro subjects, and wildlife whether he is at some exotic location or close to home.

His down to earth and easy to follow teaching style make him a highly sought after lecturer.  He has given countless lectures and workshops across the country.  The author of several instructional eBooks on nature photography, Roman strives to share his passion for photography as others have shared with him. He lives in NJ and has been married for 31 years and has two sons.

You can find his galleries, blog, tour schedule, eBooks and more on his website: or follow him on the Facebook group at: Roamin’ with Roman Photo Tours or on Instagram: @roaminwithromanphoto

“The Rio Grande: Is the Past the Key to the Future?” by Dr. Fred Phillips, author of Reining in the Rio Grande.

Fred’s talk will draw from his book, “Reining in the Rio Grande: People, Land, and Water”, a popular book on the environmental history of the Rio Grande in New Mexico and the challenges it faces today. (This book is available for sale at the Bosque Nature Store either in person or online.)

Dr. Fred Phillips is Professor Emeritus of Hydrology at New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology in Socorro, New Mexico. He received an undergraduate degree in Earth Science from the University of California at Santa Cruz and completed MS and Ph.D. degrees in Hydrology at the University of Arizona before taking a faculty position at New Mexico Tech in 1981. He has been on the faculty of the Earth & Environmental Science Department there since that time.

Fred has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in a wide range of earth-science topics, but especially groundwater hydrology, geochemistry of natural waters, and global climate change. His research areas include methods for determining the length of time the groundwater has spent underground, the ways in which surface-water flows arrive at streams, and how water availability and vegetation type affect each other. He has 227 publications, including 157 in peer-reviewed journals and books, and he has been recognized with several awards.

Click here see the webinar recording!

Ethics of Wildlife Photography

The “Ethics in Wildlife Photography” program gave a review of common practices to avoid and encouraged when photographing subjects in the wild. Award-winning nature photographer Garrett Sheets discussed the importance of respecting wildlife while taking photos and techniques to ensure the animals safety. He explained how you can be mindful and considerate and still produce sharp natural images.

Being aware of your surroundings is important when photographing wildlife, however, it doesn’t just refer to the animals. Wildlife photography is a popular hobby; accurately reading situations and responding ethically allows you to take better images, and avoid disturbing others.
Recording for this webinar will be available for a short time for everyone.
Click here see the webinar recording for a limited time!

Garrett Sheets is an avid nature photographer from St. Louis, Missouri. At 19 years old he has been fortunate enough to travel all over the world with various organizations, bringing his camera to photograph exotic wildlife and landscapes. He hopes his images inspire others and encourage a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

His previous experience as a top bird watcher in the state of Missouri helped him gain proficiency in interacting with subjects in the field, and respect for the subjects he photographs. Birds continue to be his primary joy, however, he now appreciates them through the viewfinder of his camera and the images he creates.

Garrett began exploring the outdoors from a young age and loves sharing his experiences and stories with others. He enjoys getting down in the mud, climbing trees, and doing whatever he can to get the shot, however, Garrett always puts the subject’s safety first.

Shore Bird Photography

Shorebirds can be quite tricky yet thrilling to photograph. Certain techniques–often highly specific to shorebird behavior–can give wildlife photographers an edge when attempting to photograph these remarkable birds. In this workshop, Cameron Darnell explained how to approach the challenge of shorebird photography and how to create thoughtful, story-telling images. He shared descriptions and image examples highlighting various techniques to demonstrate how best to create a compelling shorebird portfolio.

Cameron Darnell just graduated high school, is 19 years old, and enjoys nature, athletics, and music. He got into photography after birding for a while when he saw someone with a lens clicking shots on a bird walk seven years ago. It seemed so fun, so he tried it with a beginner digiscope setup. He was hooked immediately! He loves the creative aspect of bird photography, how each viewer sees the scene differently, and can create his or her unique vision of the subject.

“It’s fulfilling to provide an outlet for visual wildlife conservation as well through my bird photography.” – Cameron Darnell

Birds Birds Birds

Ruth Hoyt presented an overview program about birds, bird behavior and how she photographs them. This brand-new virtual program was derived from several in-depth programs she created since the Covid pandemic began a year ago.

Registrants were both entertained and educated by this virtual program!

Ruth Hoyt is a full-time professional nature photographer, writer, public speaker, workshop leader, coach and consultant with 30+ years of experience teaching nature photography. She is also a Certified Interpretive Guide (national certification) and Certified Texas Master Naturalist (certified annually through Texas Parks & Wildlife since 2009).

She is best known for her Texas bird photography and professional guiding services on private south Texas ranches, but she also pursues landscape, flora, macro, night and much more in various locations across the United States.

Ruth used her Canon 1DX Mark III DSLR for most of her work until recently when she purchased a new Canon R5 mirrorless camera. She uses an iPhone X and DJI Phantom 4 drone for video and still work for selected subjects.

Her work includes large canvas gallery-wrapped prints as well as mounted prints using archival, museum-quality paper. Her work can be seen in permanent public locations in various states as well as local hospitals, private offices and visitors’ centers.

For current work, visit her Instagram account at @ruthhoytphoto or visit her studio at the McAllen Creative Incubator, 601 N. Main Street, McAllen, Texas. Contact her through her website at, phone at (956) 330-2900 or email at

Tips to Instantly Improve Your Bird Photography

In this presentation, registrants took a journey with Todd & Lou into Bosque birding and capturing amazing imagery along the way. Through these helpful tips, registrants learned about preparing, gearing up, locating, observing, creating impactful imagery and how to share those pictures in a stunning and touching way. They learned about photographing birds, and incorporating video to help improve the experience.

Todd Nettelhorst has had a passion for photography and filmmaking much of his life. He started photographing at a very young age when his father gave him his first SLR camera. His appreciation of photography grew while photographing throughout the country during the summer family road trips. Though his passion for the arts continued to grow, after  college, Todd worked in sales and marketing for a variety of companies quickly becoming successful in building relationships in a variety of industries. His path of becoming a professional photographer began while documenting the honesty in his children’s lives as others asked him to capture that same spirit for their family. His un-posed, un-planned, spontaneous style of photographing people living, helped him develop extreme  patience and a keen eye for documenting the personality and expressions that bring out the “real life” in people. Through years of delivering those precious moments for those families, other opportunities opened up in commercial photography including: events, architecture, engagements and various products. While still engaging in commercial work with new and established clients, Todd enjoys bringing his charismatic energy, unique photographic perspective and deep passion for the visual arts to others by helping them explore and develop the best of their creative abilities through coaching.

In his free time, Todd enjoys many outdoor activities such as climbing, biking, hiking, playing golf/hockey and spending time with his beautiful family. Todd lives in Chicago with his lovely wife Tambi and their three young girls.

Lou Nettelhorst, photography educator who helps photographers discover and explore the artist within. First and foremost Lou is a photography teacher. He is also an award-winning photographer and stunning image-maker. He is a man on a mission – a mission to make photographing fun, creative and rewarding for others through his unique teaching style. The hallmark of his style is his eagerness to share his professional experience and techniques, while always providing encouragement, constructive feedback, and (often groan-inducing) humor. Lou has been a teacher to thousands of aspiring photographers. He literally gets
“goose-bumps” when he sees the images made by his students, and counts their successes as his most treasured reward. One of his students recently commented, “You can be a great photographer, but not know how to teach. Lou is a phenomenal teacher and an amazing photographer!”
Whether a student is interested in macro, landscape, bird, architecture etc. Lou provides tips and pointers on that particular style. Regardless of the level of the student, from  beginner to advanced, Lou is uniquely qualified to help them improve their images and move to the next level.  A student of noted photographers Freeman Patterson, Sam Abel and Bob Sisson, Lou’s images have been published in Nature’s Best Photography , Outdoor Photographer , North American Nature Photography Association’s (NANPA) Member Showcase and Chicago Wilderness Magazine , as well as many newsletters. His photography has also earned numerous fine art exhibition awards. During his eight years as chair of the NANPA High School Scholarship Program, Lou received NANPA’s Outstanding Service Award, the Russ Kinne Recognition Grant and in 2019 became a NANPA Fellow. In 2010, he received the Kohout Outstanding Nature Photographer’s Award from the Chicago Area Camera Clubs Association (CACCA), representing 36 clubs. Lou is also a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Chicago Botanic Garden, Riverwoods Nature Photographic Society (RNPS) and the Grayslake Arts Alliance (GAA).

Improving your Bird Photography with Cheryl Opperman

Thank you for joining us for this exciting webinar! With almost twice as many birders in America than golfers, it’s no wonder so many photographers strive to capture the perfect image of these wondrous creatures. Whether you photograph in your own backyard or in an exotic location, some simple preparation greatly increases your chance of capturing spectacular images. Award-winning photographer Cheryl Opperman shared her favorite locations and provided valuable insight into the tools and techniques needed to successfully photograph birds.

Friends are pleased to have partnered with Cheryl during October, 2020 as part of our monthly photography programs!


Cheryl Opperman is a nationally acclaimed nature photographer who has traveled to every continent in the world capturing spectacular images of nature, wildlife, and indigenous cultures. Widely published, her photographs have appeared in print, on the web, on television, and in solo and group exhibits, resulting in a list of clients or credits which include The American Humane Association, The Denver Post, the National Geographic Society, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Cheryl’s esthetic compositions, artistic use of light, and exquisite detail have been honored with several prestigious awards from organizations including The Earth Day Network, Nature’s Best Photography, the International Photography Awards, and the National Wildlife Federation. She was also featured as a leading female nature photographer by Outdoor Photographer Magazine and has appeared in on-camera interviews by 9News Denver, the Luminous Landscape, and Smithsonian Earth. Using the power of photography to inspire interest in the environment and other cultures, she has presented slide shows or classes on various topics to schools, camera clubs, and organizations including the Intermountain Regional Headquarters of the National Park Service, the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and the North American Nature Photography Association. Cheryl is a 1992 honors graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial/Scientific photography.

Painting a killdeer with Wren Walraven

Thank you for joining us for this exciting webinar!
Wren Walraven, a local New Mexican artist that won the 2015 Festival Art Contest, answered questions, guided participants, and gave advice on how to create a mixed media killdeer painting. Click on the link below to download a materials list, killdeer outline for the project, and the tutorial video to get started today.
Follow the tutorial below and show off your painting! Send your painting to Friends and Wren!
Who is Wren Walraven?
My artwork is an expressive celebration of nature-inspired by wildlife using abstraction and abstract principles. As a child, I was fascinated and awestruck by the natural world around me. The birds at our feeders brought forth great adoration and excitement in their wild beauty. Little did I know, this would be the foundation of a life’s path.

Painting Tutorial

Video by Wren Walraven

Hummingbirds – Hummingbirds of New Mexico

Thank you for joining us for this exciting webinar on September 11th, 2020!
Friends, Sandra Noll, and Erv Nichols brought Hummingbirds of New Mexico into registrants home!
This delightful program showed registrants the secret world of these unique little birds, whose high-speed lives are largely invisible to us. Details of hummingbird biology and behavior were revealed through slow-motion video and beautiful photographs highlighting species seen at Bosque del Apache and elsewhere in New Mexico. The human-hummingbird connection was also explored with tips on attracting and identifying these tiny gems.

Keep an eye on this space for more updates!