Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
David Moore, CDFW Interpretive Services, (707) 766-8380
Annual Sandhill Crane Festival Marks Return of Winter Birds
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting reservations for docent-led bird viewing tours from October through February 2014 at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (WER) in San Joaquin County.
“The evening sandhill crane fly-ins are only available with tour participation and are worth every moment,” said CDFW interpreter David Moore. “Our tours are timed in late afternoon and early evening to take advantage of viewing this spectacular show.”
Tour reports from last year indicate October had an average of 1,151 cranes per day with November bringing in 12,757 observations in one four-day count. While crane numbers are somewhat lower in January and February, numerous wetland bird species may be observed throughout the five month tour period and are as much of the bird viewing experience as the cranes.
The magnificent tundra swans have been observed in mid-November and December. Snow geese peaked with a count of 6,000 birds in January. Great and snowy egrets are consistent inhabitants with numerous sightings and great blue herons have made monthly appearances.
Raptor sightings are a treat for visitors as well. Northern harriers and red-tailed hawks appear frequently in tour months, with approximately one to eight daily sightings of each species. Also, a great horned owl was spotted in early December, a golden eagle in early January and a peregrine falcon in February.
Scheduled CDFW tours are available the first three weekends of each month from October through February 2014. Registration and more information can be found online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/cranetour/.
Self-guided tours to WER South unit may be done at the convenience of the visitor. Informative panels are available onsite and crane fly-overs at dusk make for an inspiring view.
Lastly, the 17th Annual Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival is scheduled for Nov. 1-3. More information may be found at http://www.cranefestival.com.