Sandhill Cranes are large, stately, gray birds with red foreheads and white cheeks. They forage for corn and other grains in open fields in the winter in Arizona, Texas and Florida and unlike Whooping Cranes are of Least Concern on the conservation scale. In late winter they begin their migration to northern Canada for breeding. They mate for life.
We camped at Whitewater Draw for three days and got to see the rhythm of the birds. They leave the Draw at sunrise and fly to fields where they forage for the day, they begin returning around 11 am and throughout the afternoon and all are back by sunset where they stand in the shallow water to avoid predators like coyotes. It starts again the next morning. The birds are never quiet, not even at night. It is a raucous racket of honks, squawks and their distinctive rolling trumpeting call. The noise peaks when they leave by the score or return in large numbers. They are constantly communicating with one another.
Although this place is primarily known for its Cranes there are many other species as well, Snow Geese, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals and the duck-like American Coot. There is also an owl roosting area and we could hear Great Horned Owls after sunset. I hardly have the words to describe the feeling of having thousands and thousands of these beautiful birds almost close enough to touch. Below is a slideshow of some of Jim's best photos.