Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Sandhill Crane Day

On Thursday we were all primed to go for a drive to McNeal and the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area to see the sandhill cranes.

It could not have been a better day for a drive... and explore some country we have never seen before.

It took us about 90 minutes to drive from Vail... it was hard to imagine after coming thru the desert we would find an oasis with water for the birds.

With 700 acres of wetlands here these sandhill cranes have a protected winter spot to live and enjoy the great Arizona lifestyle. We call ourselves 'snowbirds,' but these cranes have been doing this snowbird thing for centuries!

It was amazing to see these huge birds come flying in with their landing gear down.

And the noise of these cranes was amazing... a loud trumpeting call. We were there almost three hours, and the calling in the beginning was considerably louder at 11 AM than it was at 1:30 PM when we left.

They seemed very persistent in their calling... like they were looking for their mate or something. But later they were more quiet and content.

These birds are a lot like humans. Wikipedia says that the female birds make two calls for every single call of the male.  Isn't that the way it is with us? Our women do most of the talking... making two calls to every one us guys make... or maybe it's the women have to call twice to get the guys to stop and come to eat!

It is interesting to see how many of these birds like to stand on only one leg. What is with that?

A couple of viewing platforms were extended into the water and they each had telescopes to watch the birds.

We spent some enjoyable time on this platform visiting with friends from our Del Webb community.

Our friends told us when they were here before the sky was dark with so many birds coming in to land at one time...

And the entire marsh was full of sand cranes!  Not so today... but I still really enjoyed coming here.

I was quite content to walk around the path and look at these gorgeous birds in different locations...

And take pictures of several different kinds of ducks.

There were ducks here I don't believe I have ever seen before... like this Northern Shoveler.

Shirley made us a wonderful picnic lunch... and as we ate we watched the birds in the water enjoying the day. What an enjoyable spot to come and spend a few hours.

If only I had a longer lens to get closer... 

Since we still had a few more hours to spend, we decided to go back home thru Bisbee. This open pit mine is right beside the main highway. Bisbee was a happening place at one time.

What a cool historic spot... a really famous mining town. It was voted runner up in May 2000 as the quirkiest town in America... for good reason! We walked thru the old part of town and Shirley did a blog post on this event. Check it out! This town is artsy quirky. 

"I am so blessed to have a sweetheart who talks to me about sandhill cranes and mining towns... I'm madly in love!"


  1. pa - the cranes stand on one leg to save body heat, apparently. hmmm.. in the desert not sure that makes a ton of sense.. maybe its habit from their time living where its cool?

  2. son, at the elevation of the Wildlife Reserve here it is cooler... and they are standing in water that is pretty cold.

    Our visit was here was quite chilly, so we kept our jackets buttoned up all the time. I'm not all that good at standing on one leg.