Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thousands of Sandhill Cranes

On our last day in Arizona, Harriet, Michael, and I, drove almost two hours southeast of Tucson, to Whitewater Draw, a roosting spot for many thousands of beautiful Sandhill Cranes!  We arrived around 10:15am and our timing couldn't have been better!  Constant clouds of birds kept appearing and they would land in groups around the wetlands.  Around five groupings formed around the main body of water.  

This area is preserved for the cranes and waterfowl, and features a loop trail.  It is an expansive area and just a terrific place to watch the birds.  It's a former cattle ranch within the Chihuahuan Desert grassland habitat.  There are extensive open water areas, marshlands and mudflats.  Not only does this area attract the cranes and waterfowl, it also attracts migratory birds.

Other birds seen include white-faced ibis, blue and green-winged teal, cinnamon teal, great blue heron, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, greater yellowlegs, long-billed dowitcher, killdeer, western sandpiper, black-throated sparrow, white-throated, mourning and white-winged doves, red-winged blackbird, and a probable prairie falcon in flight.  Michael found a bat house, and the bats inside were "chirping"!

Photos follow, but most likely won't do justice! The spots you see in the sky are cranes!

Northern shovelers

Harriet scoping the birds.

We've seen this spectacle before, in New Mexico at Bosque del Apache, and will visit there again. Another spot is along the Platte River in Nebraska, on our bucket list!