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Bring wildlife to you with Game and Fish’s new sandhill crane camera

1/14/2016

NORTH VALLEY – The Arizona Game and Fish Department just made it easier for worldwide audiences to enjoy a quality wildlife experience with the launch of a live stream of sandhill cranes at their wintering grounds at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in southern Arizona.

The live stream is only the second one in the nation focused on the big, impressive sandhill crane, and the only one that gives viewers a glimpse into their wintering habits.  

“Arizona Game and Fish conserves and manages the state’s wildlife in trust for Arizona’s residents. So, it’s a priority for the department to connect and engage the public with their wildlife. This camera gives anyone with an Internet connection the opportunity to see the magnificent sight of thousands of cranes at one of their primary wintering sites,” said Randy Babb, watchable wildlife program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The live stream can be viewed at www.azgfd.gov/sandhillcranes.

The best time to view the birds is a half-hour before sunrise and up to a half-hour after, just before they leave the roost to feed for the morning. Or, the cranes return to Whitewater Draw sometime in the late morning, generally before noon and remain at the wildlife area for the remainder of the day.

While the department will do its best to keep the camera focused on the cranes and other interesting subjects, there will be times it isn’t possible due to the unpredictability of wildlife. Viewers that don’t see activity when they try the camera are encouraged to routinely check back.

The live stream will be offered through March or early April when the birds leave to migrate to northern nesting grounds.   

For those that find the live stream viewing fascinating, the department encourages a trip to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area for a full sensory viewing experience. The sight of up to 10,000 birds is impressive. More information can be found at https://azgfdportal.az.gov/wildlife/viewing/wheretogo/whitewater/.

The sandhill crane live stream is supported by the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which comes from tribal gaming.

Worldwide, there are 15 species of cranes scattered across the globe. Most of these are found in Africa, Europe and Asia. Many are either threatened or endangered, due to a variety of reasons with habitat loss being chief among them. Two species of cranes are found in North America, the endangered whooping crane and sandhill cranes.  

Cranes of all species sport long necks, beaks, and legs with short tails that are not visible when the wings are closed. Sandhill cranes are predominantly grey with red heads and the largest subspecies can stand nearly 4-feet tall. Sandhill cranes are long-lived and mate for life.

They are wary birds that shy away from areas of dense vegetation that may conceal predators. Cranes prefer to feed and roost in open areas where potential danger can be seen from a distance. Wintering sandhill cranes often feed on agricultural grain crops but may also frequent open desert and fallow fields.  

Each year, sandhill cranes travel thousands of miles to spend their winter in southern Arizona, coming from as far away as Siberia.