Wings of Winter
Take a trip back to the age of woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers when you visit the Sandhill Cranes, just a short drive from Tucson. You’ll hear them before you see them, and when you see them, you’ll be mesmerized. These birds look prehistoric because they are! A ten-million-year-old fossil shows it is the oldest known bird species alive, and they thrive right here in Southern Arizona.
These are truly “snow birds” that winter over in the Cochise County area, then go back to their summer homes, sometimes all the way to Siberia. AZ Weekend visited the Whitewater Draw Wildlife area to experience first-hand the awe and majesty of these gigantic birds. Whitewater Draw is a man-made wetlands area, and it provides a safe roosting area for the birds. There’s a great webcam so you can watch the birds from the comfort of your screen! The Arizona Game and Fish Department estimates there are 25,000 birds in the draw, and another 10,000 in the valley nearby.
The birds draw visitors from all over the world, and Willcox, AZ annually devotes a weekend festival called Wings over Willcox. It’s a 4-day marathon of tours, tips, seminars and hikes dedicated to birding.