As Julie Ann Brown, Executive Director of Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, is fond of saying, we don’t get a lot of Sandhill Cranes here on the Island in winter but we’re extremely proud of the ones we have! I’m excited to report that our Sandies (as we affectionately call them) have begun arriving in small flocks over the last week or so. Soon we’ll have a few hundred of these elegant birds over-wintering with us, taking advantage of our milder climate and plentiful food resources.
Like most cranes, Sandies are monogamous and mate for life, spending 20-30 years together year-round, so it’s likely that many of our winter visitors have been returning here year after year for decades. Standing nearly 4-feet tall, with red crowns on top of their heads, they are hard to miss if you know where to look. One of their favorite foraging areas on the Island is on the grounds of Scholes International Airport, which you can view easily from Stewart Road. Locals also enjoy watching them from the deck of Tin Cups Caddy Shack, where you can relax with a beverage or two while birding.
If you’re like us and just can’t get enough of Sandhill Cranes, register today for Holiday with the Cranes! This year the crane celebration is going virtual. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to participate in a fun and engaging online presentation by birding guide Glenn Olsen on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 10:00am. Then when you’re ready to see these birds for yourself, you can check out all our West End Sandhill Crane hotspots.
Kristine Rivers has been an avid birder since childhood. As an adult, she loves sharing her passion for nature with people of all ages, encouraging them to slow down and have fun as they observe the world around them. She founded Birding for Fun in 2015, providing guided tours and workshops that embrace her philosophy that birding should be accessible to everyone.