Galveston Welcomes the Return of the Sandhill Cranes

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Galveston Welcomes the Return of the Sandhill Cranes

Updated 289 days ago

Sandhill Cranes are elegant looking birds known for their dancing skills and their loud trumpeting sound. Each winter, flocks of them make Galveston home and delight humans lucky enough to get a glimpse of their shenanigans. Ninety-seven Sandhill Cranes were counted last week at an island roosting spot.

For a unique holiday experience, on December 9-10, you can spend the weekend celebrating their return. The weekend is chock-full of indoor and outdoor nature activities combined with the ambiance of historic Galveston Island!

Holiday with the Cranes is presented by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, a nonprofit volunteer organization that helps connect people with nature experiences and outdoor adventures, and promotes the value of natural habitats and resources in the Galveston Island area.



Coffee & Cranes with Jim Stevenson
Saturday, Dec. 9
8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Local expert, Jim Stevenson, will discuss cranes found around the world and their range, ecology, and status and take a closer look at North America’s cranes, seeing how each bill fits the needs of the species’ ecology. Coffee and a light breakfast will be served.

Dawn Patrol
Saturday, Dec. 9
Sunday, Dec. 10
6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.

See unforgettable and breathtaking views of 100-200 Sandhill Cranes taking flight from their protected marsh roost. Watch them as they awake, stretch, dance, stroll, vocalize and take flight in groups as small as three and as large as 20-30.  They will be joined by flights of hundreds of local marsh birds. Roseate Spoonbills, ibis, herons, ducks, grebes, rails, sparrows, cormorants, hawks, osprey, and sandpipers along with the Sandhill Cranes will demonstrate the diversity and beauty of winter marsh birds.

East End Winter Coastal Birding
Saturday, Dec. 9
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Explore the diverse habitats of the East End of Galveston Island and see the birds that make Galveston their home in the winter months. Sit back and enjoy the ride by van and easy walks as you tour the Seawall’s East End marshes, lagoons, beach, ship channel and salt flats.  Popular field trip leader Dr. Alice Anne O’Donell and other local birding superstars will lead participants on this adventure designed for birders of all skill levels.

Winter Birding on the Isle’s West End
Sunday, Dec. 10
9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Traveling by van, you will bird some of the favorite West End hotspots including freshwater ponds, coastal marshes, bay waters and the beach. You’ll see many of the same birds seen on the East End trip, but also see vast amounts of Sandhill Cranes, a greater number of species of ducks and wonderfully majestic hawks. You'll also have the opportunity to get closer looks at sandpipers, gulls, terns, White-tailed Kites and American Oystercatchers. The areas visited provide habitat for six species of terns; 3-4 species of gulls; Piping, Snowy and Black-bellied Plovers; American Avocets, godwits, and curlews.

For more details and to register, visit the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council’s website.

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