Crane count

Sandhill cranes were counted by volunteers Saturday morning.

WILLCOX — Cranes in flight are an encouraging sight for the annual sandhill crane count.

On Saturday, Arizona Game and Fish staff as well as local volunteers from throughout the Sulphur Springs Valley worked together to conduct the annual sandhill crane count. Several volunteers drove out before sunrise to arrive at the viewing station adjacent to Crane Lake in Kansas Settlement.

According to a personal account written by Homer Hansen, who was a volunteer in the count, the cranes could be heard prior to sunrise.

“As the sky brightened and changed colors, a handful of cranes appeared, first low on the horizon, then higher as they began to fall in line, one behind another. Another group, then another, and slowly they began to depart their roosting site for the ag fields. One by one, then by groups of fives and 10s — we counted them as they flew by,” Hansen said.

“Later in the morning, after having breakfast with many of the volunteers, the station counts are totaled: 27,108 sandhill cranes for the entire valley. As is usually the case, Whitewater Draw, another AZGFD management area, holds the greatest number of cranes for the count with 13,648, though AEPCO viewing area on the way to Sunsites is close behind with 10,065.”

According to Hansen, 1,090 sandhill cranes were counted at Crane Lake, which is lower than average.

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