Sandhill Cranes are large birds, with long necks, long legs and wide wings. They mate for life, can live 30 years, and tend to stay in family groups as they migrate back and forth from summer breeding grounds in Canada and the northern U.S. to winter foraging in Arizona/New Mexico wetlands, and for some species, Florida. For details of the birds, their behavior and ranges see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website and The Aldo Leopold Foundation site. The image above was captured at Whitewater Draw in Cochise County in December of 2015, the one below at Bosque del Apache on the Rio Grande in New Mexico in January 2016. Both sites are winter homes for these birds. They roost in the water at night, then take off at dawn for nearby corn fields to feed for the long flight north in the spring. At sunset they return to their roosting sites. Dawn and dusk at Bosque del Apache are great times to see them in flight, as well as the noon hour at Whitewater Draw. Bring your binoculars, warm clothes and hot coffee.
More in flight at Whitewater Draw, above, and landing at sunset at Bosque Del Apache below.
Below, two cranes feeding at Bosque Del Apache, mid-day, January 2016.