Arizona's original 'snowbirds' are flocking back to our state

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(3TV/CBS 5) -

Arizona’s original snowbird, the sandhill crane, is coming back to town like clockwork. 

The cranes travel thousands of miles from places like Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and some as far as Canada, Alaska and Sibera.

“We are excited to see the sandhill cranes return for the winter,” said Randy Babb, watchable wildlife program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “While there are only a few thousand in the area now, their numbers will grow to more than 30,000 before they migrate in the spring.”

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The cranes fly to the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in the Sulphur Springs Valley. The area serves as a roosting and loafing place for the cranes and offers viewing decks and trails for viewers to see other migratory birds, such as waterfowl, grassland sparrows, and an assortment of raptors.

If you can’t make it out to see the majestic birds you can spy on them using the “crane cam” at www.azgfd.gov/sandhillcranes. The best time to spot the birds is the first hour after sunrise, before they leave to feed in the morning. The cranes will usually return later in the morning, before noon, and remain in the area for the rest of the day. Occasionally the birds will fly out again in the afternoon, returning after dusk. 

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