Image: Snow Geese landing
Image: Snow Geese landing

Who would’ve Thought that Visiting a Bird Sanctuary could be so Uplifting!?

Birds have the power to lift themselves in the air and to uplift your spirit.

This day started with the usual chores on the homestead. The morning routine wasn’t any different from any other day. With the mindset of “business as usual”, we left this morning to visit Wightwater Draw Wildlife Area to watch Sandhill Cranes.

Who would’ve thought that the dry and windy Arizona desert hosts migratory cranes, snow geese, and shore birds between mid-October and mid-March? And who would’ve thought that observing those birds and being amongst them can be such an exhilarating and spiritual experience?

We arrived at the wildlife area right before 10:00 a.m. to follow the cranes’ schedule. The cranes wake up early morning and leave their sanctuary to feed at the farm fields. They return to their wetland spot in the desert at about ten in the morning. We were ready to meet and greet the arriving birds.

Image: Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area on Google Earth
Map of the wildlife area.

While waiting for the big birds to arrive, we walked around the wetlands photographing the small residents.

The tiny Scarlet Tanager is hard not to notice in the drab winter backdrop.

Image: Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanager

We see tanagers in the spring, summer, and fall in our backyard. We didn’t know that these little birds migrate to this nearby place for the winter.

This little shorebird calmly walked around the edge of the pond paying no attention to the human visitors.

Image: shorebird

Hundreds of ducks were very difficult to photograph. Instead of floating on water like ducks normally would, these creatures were bobbing with their tails up. They rarely came out for some air.

Image: ducks in the pond of Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
Ducks on the pond.

Other shorebirds, coots, and ducks are completely disregarding our presence.

As first-time visitors to this wildlife zone, we don’t know what to expect. We don’t see any cranes, geese, or other large birds. The place is quiet. Seeing this haven of wildlife has already brought great satisfaction. This place is definitely worth the trip. We will be coming back.

Suddenly, we hear the trumpeting crescendo of the cranes announcing their arrival.

Image: cranes in the air
Sandhill Cranes arriving at the wildlife area.

Upon landing, the cranes turned in the direction where they came from and waited for the rest of the flock to arrive.

The cranes wait for the rest of the birds to arrive.
Image: Sandhill Cranes

As soon as the cranes started settling in for the day, a new arrival surprised us. Screaming with the same intensity, the snow geese were landing on the water.

Image: Snow Geese
Snow Geese landing on the water.

More cranes and geese kept populating the area.

Image: Sandhill Cranes arriving at the bird sanctuary
Sandhill Cranes arriving at the bird sanctuary.

All of the sudden, the geese took off in the air accompanied by loud screams and the sounds of the wings flapping on the water. The flying bird in the middle of the picture has immature plumage.

Image: Snow Geese

The birds circled in the air and landed back on the water.

Image: Snow Geese in the sky
Snow Geese in the air.

The cranes kept landing and completely disregarding the human visitors.

Image: Sandhill Cranes in Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

Watching these birds flying in unison, screaming, and conglomerating in huge groups is an amazing experience. We are coming home with an uplifted spirit. This trip definitely made our day!


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