The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge is an absolutely amazing place. Every year tens of thousand, if not more, birds of all sorts descend upon the refuge to spend the winter months. Everything a bird could want is provided: refuge fields for feeding in the day and plenty of ponds for the evenings.
The ponds are vastly important, for the birds spend the night there. Since birds are easy prey at night, they need some sort of defensive mechanism: the water provides just that. Predators dislike going into the water for their meal, and thus, safety afforded.
Near the end of each day the “fly in” happens; this is when the birds return from the fields where they have been feeding to their pond of choice; this daily ritual happens somewhere around sunset. The birds fly in, and begin to settle into the pond for the evening; but just like humans they take a little time to settle in. They move about, feed a little and generally (or so it appears) relax.
As the sun was slipping below the horizon, the daily crane gathering was captured in this photo.