January 24, 2015
This week we made our yearly trek to Whitewater Draw, an Important Birding Area, about an hour away. It is a wetland in the desert where Sandhill Cranes overwinter. They spend the night in the Draw and fly out to the agricultural areas in the valley to feed. We live in the foothills of a small mountain range but while doing chores in the morning we can hear the cranes in a field down below about 5 miles away "as the crane flies". They have a beautiful sound.
We were a bit late in getting to the Draw but we still saw small flocks of cranes on their way out to breakfast. They are such graceful fliers. There are a number of other waterfowl taking advantage of water in the desert, but I admit that I am unfamiliar with water birds. It was great to see more water than in previous years, probably because we had a wonderfully wet 2014.
There are a lot of raptors where we live, especially in the winter. Yesterday we saw two bald eagles and there are many red-tailed hawks, harriers, and prairie falcons. A Cooper's hawk spends time around our house, no doubt hoping to find dinner among the birds that take advantage of our feeders.
One bird we almost always see at Whitewater Draw is an owl who spends the day in a large structure on the property. Initially it was a barn owl, but yesterday it was a great horned. We often hear a great horned close to the house, shouting hoot-hoot-hoooot down the chimney.
This is a great place for birds. And us.