Monday, February 4, 2013

Whitewater Draw BJ Day 3

1. Snowy mountains-kab Snow on the Mountains at Whitewater Draw 1-3-13

It was relatively early on January third when Chris Rohrer, my son Chris, and his wife, Melissa headed to Whitewater Draw for some sight seeing and some birding. I so wanted Chris and Melissa to see all the thousands of Sandhill Cranes. We went in two cars since I knew that Chris and Melissa would not want to spend the whole day watching birds with us two obsessive birders. So, Chris rode with Chris, and Melissa and I rode together.

2. shovelers-kab Northern Shovelers at Whitewater Draw

It was already a chilly morning in Tucson and I knew it would be even colder in Whitewater Draw since a cold front had moved through and Bisbee had seen 9” of snow the day before. The forecast was for a winter storm to be passing off to the east in New Mexico and though it seems ironic that a place further south and closer to Mexico can be colder, it is true. I wore several layers and brought several clothing options with me. As we headed south from Benson I watched the car thermometer as it dropped from the 40’s down into the 20’s! I was so glad I had my gloves and a thermos of hot tea!

3. pintails-kab Northern Pintails

Chris and Chris arrived about 15 minutes before Melissa and I. We quickly parked and joined them over at the marsh which was full of ducks but no cranes. Chris and Melissa waited patiently as we walked around the pond. A few cranes flew overhead, but not the great numbers I wanted them to see! I could tell they had already had enough of birds and were eager to be off on their own, so we all walked back to the cars where I gave them my car keys and we moved my stuff from my car to Chris R’s car. After a quick hug good-bye those lovebirds went off on their own and Chris and I walked back toward the marsh. 15 minutes after Chris and Melissa left, the cranes arrived!

4. ducks n cranes-kab It started with a few birds as the pintails took wing…


5. Sandhills-kab Then a few more came flying out of the north…


6. sandhill cranes-kab Sandhill Cranes in flight


7. thousands-kab And then they came in waves of thousands, garroo-ing through the morning skies!

8. landing-kab 

9. filling the field-kab 

10. more-kab Chris and I stood in awe as we watched them land and fill the marsh!


11. cranes-kab 

12. sandhill cranes-kab 

13. filed of cranes-kab 

14. sandhill cranes-kab 

15. thick as fleas-kab Sandhill cranes filled the sky as thick as fleas!

I was so sad that Chris and Melissa missed this sight. I was so thrilled to witness it once again for myself! Then, as the wind picked up and the clouds thickened Chris and I wandered the rest of the area searching for birds. We found a barn owl in the willows and sparrows by the hundreds in the grasses and brush. Of course we saw Northern Harriers and a few blackbirds. In all we counted about 40 species of birds here. Then we bundled up and headed north through the Sulphur Spring Valley towards Willcox.

16. savannah sparrow-kab Savannah Sparrow


17. rufous-winged sparrow-kab Possible Clay-colored Sparrow at Whitewater Draw


18. sparrow-kab Mystery sparrow seen along Coffman Road

(Note: this information was changed on 2-6-13. This is possibly a clay-colored sparrow or a first year Chipping Sparrow)

19. meadowlark-kab Western Meadowlark on pole 1-3-13


Big announcement: Chris Rohrer is the newest contributor to the Birding is Fun blog and his first post was today! Pop over to read it if you have time!

Congrats Chris and welcome to the team!

P.S. On a personal note: Gus had his other cataract removed today and all went well. Hopefully his vision will continue to improve as his eyes heal. We are very grateful for everything! I just want to say Thank You to those of you who have expressed support and concern!


  1. Wow! That had to be amazing to see all those cranes flying in! What a great experience.

    1. Kathryn, one day you need to come see it for yourself!

  2. What an incredible sight! I've only seen 1 sandhill crane once - and that was in flight over NJ - barely could tell that it was a crane, let alone a bird.

    1. birdworthy, until I moved here I had only seen a few at a time, so it was quite a thrill to see this many at once. It is truly inspiring!

  3. Oh how awesome! I see an occasional crane flying over. That would be a totally awesome day for us we love nature. I thought almost getting run down by a roadrunner in the yard yesterday was neat. I'm glad I found your blog.

    1. thewovenspoke, it is an awesome day for any nature lover. Perhaps you can go sometime? Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I am glad you found me too!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.