Spring Migration Celebration

Join us for a weekend of celebrating Spring Migration at Bosque del Apache and learn about the amazing species that are spending the season with us! Holly Merker and Alex Harper will be returning to guide in-person workshops. Holly has partnered with Friends for several years and Alex is returning for his second event with us. 

Scroll down for event details.

Please Read

Please bring your binoculars, water, your own car, and your own refuge pass. Click here for more information on refuge passes.

We advise that you wear comfortable walking shoes and layers of clothing to be comfortable in changing temperatures.

Meet us at the Visitor Center Parking Lot – please arrive 10-15 minutes early.

There will be food vendors waiting to serve you in the visitor center plaza area from 9:00 am – 5:oo pm.

Please note: The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center follows CDC health guidelines and may require you to wear a mask in the building.

Photo by Erika Gilsdort

Holly Merker

Holly has a background in art therapy, but today employs nature and birds to achieve the same result of mental, physical, and emotional wellness in her work as a Mindful Birding leader and certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide (ANFT).

Holly has paired her professional backgrounds in art therapy and over twenty years of bird guiding and environmental education, with coursework in MBSR, and the practice of Forest Bathing, to provide rich sensory experiences through nature-based wellness programs. Holly’s gently guided experiences incorporate accessibility for all mobility and skill levels and are designed to be welcoming and inclusive to all people.

After using birdwatching for its therapeutic benefits while undergoing treatment and recovery from breast cancer, Holly is dedicated to sharing the message that birds and nature can be powerful companions in our wellness and selfcare, bolstering the body’s defenses against disease and boosting mental well-being. Holly promotes these concepts as lead author of the award-winning book Ornitherapy: For Your Body, Mind, and Soul (Crossley Books, 2021) which guides readers into more mindful experiences with birds.

Alex Harper

Alex Harper is a field biologist, birding guide, and outdoor educator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally from Miami and South Florida, his deep interest in nature began early in childhood. He gravitated towards birds and reptiles in particular, and his parents fostered his interests by taking him to biologically rich habitats like the Florida Keys and Everglades.

Today Alex is more permanently settled in Las Vegas where he helps to operate a bird guiding business, serves as an outreach coordinator and educator for Red Rock Audubon, and conducts occasional bird surveys in the Mojave Desert. He serves on the board of directors for the Audubon chapter, sits on a board that advises county officials on wildlife policy in southern Nevada and is a voting member of the Nevada Birds Record Committee.

Alex presents and leads workshops on a variety of topics that are interesting to him, including frameworks for better birding, birding using mindfulness practices, focusing on specific groups or families of birds, photography, and ecosystem ecology. He is especially interested in the growing research on the effects of spending time in nature and birds as it relates to wellbeing and happiness. Because he works in urban and suburban environments in Las Vegas, he is unrelenting in sharing with people that enjoying birds can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter their home environment.




Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka Kumar is the acclaimed author of Conversations with Birds. Her essays and criticism appear in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of BooksOrion, and High Country News. Her work has been featured on CBS News Radio, Psychology Today, and Oprah Daily.

She is a recipient of a Playa Residency, an Aldo & Estella Leopold Writing Residency, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Award, a New Mexico/New Visions Governor’s Award, a Canada Council for the Arts Grant, an Ontario Arts Council Literary Award, and an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Fellowship.


Migration Madness

Friday & Saturday | 6:30 am – 9:00 am

These field trips will focus on seeking out what birds have dropped for a refuel and recharge. This trip will guide participants around the refuge to seek out birds in various habitats, and will include a focus on songbirds, but would also highlight any lingering waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, gulls, and more!


Photo by Alex Harper


Photo by Holly Merker


Learning the Language of Birds

Friday & Saturday | 6:30 am – 9:00 am

In this workshop, participants will spend the first 45 minutes in a classroom setting, going over some basics of learning the language of birds, and tech-driven tips on how to learn. For the time left, participants will explore the refuge seeking bird songs and vocalizations with intention, with an emphasis on “ears-on” learning and birding by ear skill-building.



Sparrows and Sneaky Songbirds

Friday | 9:30 am – 12 noon

Saturday | 1:30 am – 4:00 pm

Did you ever wonder what that little brown bird was that whizzed past you? Want to learn some tips to help identify those active songbirds that keep you guessing? This workshop will focus on identifying tips for songbirds you may encounter in and around the refuge, but also provide you tools to take on your birding adventures wherever life takes you.



Photo by Holly Merker


Photo by Alex Harper


Watching Waders

Friday – One time only | 9:30 am – 12 noon

Graceful, yet stealthy, wading birds are charismatic in every sense of the word! Their striking features may appear awkward, large bodies stacked onto long, thin legs, sometimes skinny necks and long dagger or dow-like bills, these birds exemplify some of the best and easily noticeable animal adaptations. Together, we’ll take some time out to focus on the iconic waders (including herons, egrets, ibis, and even shorebirds) and study the shapes and behaviors, providing you a long leg up on identification strategies and a deeper connection to these majestic birds.



Friends Annual Meeting

Saturday – One time only | 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Meeting Agenda:

  • Welcome – Board President
  • State of the Refuge – Deb Williams, Refuge Manager
  • Financial Report from Friends Fiscal Year ending March 31, 2023 – Jon d’Alessio, Board Treasurer
  • State of the Friends – Friends Staff
  • Close business portion of meeting – Board President





Keynote and book signing by Priyanka Kumar

Saturday – One time only | 11:00 am – 12 noon

Priyanka Kumar is the author of Conversations with Birds, widely acclaimed as “a landmark book” that “could help people around the world rewild their hearts and souls” (Psychology Today). Kumar will talk about what inspired her to write Conversations with Birds and segue into reading two passages from the book specifically about her experiences with Sandhill cranes and long-billed curlews. To be followed by an interactive Q&A about these birds and their habitat needs and then a book signing.



Desert Arboretum Stroll

Saturday – One time only | 12 noon – 3:00 pm

After the Friends’ Annual meeting, we hope you’ll stay to explore the desert blooms at our Annual Desert Arboretum Stroll!  This FREE “drop-in” style event will allow visitors to experience the beauty of spring in the Chihuahuan desert while strolling through the Arboretum.  Knowledgeable volunteers will be available to answer questions about the cacti, native plants, water wise landscaping, and even the critters who call the Arboretum home.  Throughout the accessible trail, many of the cacti will be in bloom and native pollinators will be hard at work. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to view the garden at its finest!  



Photo by Cari Powell


Photo by Holly Merker


Wonderful Waterbirds

Saturday – One time only | 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Many birds use the surface and edges of water as their home-base, providing a tenacity and resiliency to all sorts of weather conditions. While morning and evening are best for activity of songbirds, afternoon is the perfect time to focus on the wonderful array of waterbirds that drop into Bosque del Apache in spring for respite during their migratory journeys. From lingering ducks and Sandhill Cranes, to shorebirds, grebes, coots and other feathery floaters, we’ll explore their watery world of wetlands and pools, learning new tips on ID, with a specific focus on lifestyles and patterns.



Sorting out Shorebirds

Friday – One time only | 2:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Some of the most impressive avian athletes are among the shorebird family, yet these tiny powerhouses can be tricky to identify. If we stop and settle into noticing each individual, the variability among species and specially adapted traits for their intended prey and necessary feats of survival begin to surface and help solve the ID puzzles. Together, we’ll spend time working on ID strategies to simplify ID challenges you encounter with these sturdy, remarkable birds.



Photo by Alex Harper


Photo by Alex Harper


Birding By Behavior

Friday | 2:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Saturday | 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Like a good movie or tv show, watching birds can distract us from what’s going on in our own lives, providing entertainment but also a mental recharge from our own hectic worlds. But bird behaviors and patterns can be some of the best keys to unlocking the secrets to identification and help us quicken our skills used by all birding experts. During this workshop, Bosque del Apache sets the stage for front-row viewing of dynamic behaviors of birds as we explore and learn together, adding new tools to our bird ID toolkits.



Evening Birding

Saturday – One time only | 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm

At the edge of night, the last stretch of sunlight wraps the world in a soft glow, signaling the end of day. Along with the changing light, nature’s soundtrack feature songs paired with soft light, a nature’s gentle lullaby, and the golden hour to immerse ourselves in the glow of Bosque del Apache’s wonders. Together, we’ll explore the refuge, watching the sky for incoming birds getting ready to tuck-in for the night, using the refuge as their safe roosting spots. We’ll learn and watch with birds as our guides, studying flight patterns and shapes against the beautiful New Mexico sky. Dusk is a good time to find closure in our day and connect with nature in an intimate way.



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