Birdwatchers Can Get Up-Close With Galveston’s Sandhill Cranes

“Holiday With The Cranes” marks their return to the island.

Sandhill Cranes are known for their bright red caps.
Sandhill Cranes are known for their bright red caps.
Sandhill Cranes taking off at dawn.
Sandhill Cranes taking off at dawn.

Galveston Island is preparing for some holiday visitors. About 200 Sandhill Cranes winter on the island and they put on quite a show.

The cranes stand three to four feet tall. Julie Ann Brown with the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council says they act a lot like people.

"They primp and they put on makeup," says Brown. "They dance, sing, yell. They choose their mates based on their dancing skills. They stay up and keep watch on one another through the night. They're monogamous. Both parents raise their young."

The Sandhill Cranes roost in the shallow wetlands on the west end of the island. They come out during the day to feed and Brown says you can spot them in open fields and pastures. They also like to hang out near Scholes International Airport.

To mark the cranes' return, the Nature Tourism Council is holding its annual "Holiday With The Cranes" event December 11-12. The event features educational talks along with tours for birders and photographers. One of the events is "Dawn Patrol" where participants can view the cranes as they awaken and take flight.

Registration for the event is going on right now. To learn more about the Sandhill Cranes, you can hear our interview with Julie Ann Brown by clicking the audio button.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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