Record 40,499 sandhill cranes counted in southern Arizona

[Source: Outdoor News, 2-13-2010] — The Sulphur Springs Valley in Arizona attracted a record 40,499 wintering sandhill cranes, providing an unparalleled wildlife watching opportunity in southern Arizona this year, say Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.  “In 2008 this agriculturally-rich valley in southern Arizona drew a record 36,708 sandhill cranes.  This year circumstances and conditions conspired for this 80-mile-long valley to attract thousands more of these magnificent large birds,” said Mike Rabe, the department’s migratory game bird program manager.

Sandhill cranes are some of the largest birds in North America and have a wingspan of six to eight feet across, allowing them to fly and soar up to 100 miles in a single day in their quest for food.  Huge V-shaped flights of sandhill cranes plying the skies provide a thrilling sight for wildlife viewers.  When standing on the ground, adult sandhills can reach six feet tall.  “Experiencing the morning sandhill crane launch at the department’s two wildlife areas, especially Whitewater Draw, is truly spectacular.  Witnessing the cranes return to roost at these wildlife areas can be equally spectacular, especially during one of Arizona’s brilliant sunsets,” Rabe said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]