The photos which follow were taken in the last several months. The first set of photos were taken in early December and are sandhill cranes that over winter in southern Arizona mostly in the White Water Draw area. This year about 35,000-40,000 cranes are present in several areas. They like shallow ponds where they roost at night and then fly out en mass in the morning for farmer fields. They are about 3 feet tall and have a wing span of 6 feet.
I was able to photograph them in the afternoon and then again in the evening at sundown.
In the morning most of the flock took off for feeding in the fields. It is a sight and sound to experience the cranes in flight and even standing around. The birds stay until about mid March when they begin to migrate to northern Canada, Alaska, and even into Siberia.
At the Gilbert Water Ranch at the end of December there were 6 white pelicans.
The second week of February we spent 5 days in Palm Springs. We went to the Living Desert Zoo where we found Joann’s favorite animal – the giraffe.
We found a few other birds and animals.
The Sonoran Desert Museum, a part of Saguaro National Park, has a program for free flight Birds of Prey. The audience stands in an area about 100 x 20 feet. The bird handlers are in an area on both sides with several dead trees. They activate and control the birds by hand signals and the promise of meat put on the branches. The birds like to fly across the crowd a very low altitude sometimes brushing our heads. It was a wonderful experience to get close ups and the flights of the birds. The first bird was a raven, but the black color makes it difficult to photograph.
The second bird was a Great Horned Owl.
The next bird was a somewhat unusual and relatively rare for Arizona. “The crested caracara occurs from Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America north to the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. An isolated population occurs on the Falkland Islands.” Wikipedia
Next we have a GrayHawk. “Adult Gray Hawks are pale gray birds with finely barred chests and prominently banded black-and-white tails. … They commonly soar in the early afternoon with their tail fanned and wings level, often lower to the ground than other raptors.” All About Birds
Because they fly so low I had a difficult time in getting the bird in flight, but it was a beautiful bird.
The final group of birds are Harris Hawks which hunt together as a family. So we had 4-6 of them flying around. “A handsome hawk of the arid Southwest, Harris’s Hawk is a standout with bold markings of dark brown, chestnut red, and white; long yellow legs; and yellow markings on its face. The most social of North American raptors, these birds cooperate at nests and hunt together as a team. When hunting, a group of hawks surround their prey, flush it for another to catch, or take turns chasing it. This hawk’s social nature and relative ease with humans has made it popular among falconers and in education programs.” All about Birds
We were even treated to a little family spat.
I have a few more photos of the hawks and some hummingbirds from an aviary, but you’ll have to go to the blog to see them.