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, join us for Holiday with the Cranes on December 14th and 15th in Galveston. We’re pleased to welcome back speaker Keanna Leonard, who will be presenting “The Private Lives of Sandhill Cranes” about the sophisticated vocal and body language and interaction patterns of these extraordinary birds. You will also learn about crane migration routes and the importance of the Platte River to over 80% of the Sandhill Cranes in the world.
Kristine Rivers founded Birding for Fun in 2015, and is a popular tour guide and speaker whose enthusiasm for nature is contagious. A lifelong birder, she has been an area leader for the Brazoria Columbia Bottomlands Christmas Bird Count since 2011, and has been President of the Texas Master Naturalist Cradle of Texas chapter since January 2017.
Photo Credits: Kristine Rivers