How we spent Christmas

Written by karen on December 26th, 2010

We got up early Christmas morning (actually set an alarm if you can believe that) and headed down to Whitewater Draw where we’d heard there were a fair number sandhill cranes.

It’s about a 75 minute drive, and we got there at about a little after 9. There are some very pretty ponds there, and we saw some cute ducks, a beautiful bright red bird ( possibly a flame-colored tanager), and a lot of raptors, but no cranes. By 10:30 or so, we started hearing the cranes. (You can often hear them long before you see them. They fly very high and have a loud, though oddly pleasing, call.)

Before long, we could see flocks of 100+ birds overhead, and in the distance, many thousand were visible (with the lovely new binoculars Brad got me for Christmas). After 45 minutes or so of flying, they finally started landing. And landing and landing and landing.

By my very rough estimate, there ended up being between 10,000 and 20,000 on the ground. (They say there are as many as 30,000 there at times.) It was so amazing. For the most part, the birds just sat close to one another making their noises, but every once in a while something made huge numbers of them lift off. Wow!

More pictures here.

(If anyone is interested in coming to see these cranes, the season is roughly Nov. through Feb. Not the nicest time of year here, but certainly more temperate than the snowy north.)


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Pam Emerson says:

    Yeah! I love sandhill cranes. Where I used to live in Idaho was on their migration route south (and north) and we would look forward to hearing them sing their songs each year. Such beautiful birds. Big, too! They would land right behind our house and hang out there, pairing up and mating :) What an experience! It would sure be something to see them in those numbers, though. Maybe we’ll have to make the trek out there someday. I would sure love to see it!

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