Arizona Cardinal (two photos)

Desert Card 2Northern Cardinals are popular in America, honored as the state bird in seven states. These photos were taken with a friend at the base of Tonto National Monument near Globe, AZ. We agreed they were the most uniquely colored Cardinals we had ever seen, different from the Cardinals in the Midwest. This male was photographed on a cloudy day. I’m guessing it has something to do with minerals absorbed into plants.

Desert Card 1

Wintering Sandhills (12 photos)

Tall yet graceful, social yet independent, Sandhill Cranes have long fascinated people.

Sandhill 9

Sandhills are named for their breeding grounds on the Nebraska prairie, which bleeds into Sandhill Region of the state. Huge flocks migrate to winter in such places as Florida, Texas and Mexico.

Sandhill 4Sandhill 3Some 10,000 Sandhills migrate to southeastern Arizona for the winter. These birds were photographed at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, near Wilcox, AZ.

Sandhill 5Sandhill 1Sandhill 2

The sight of thousands upon thousands of Sandhill taking flight is awesome. Yet that’s not what was most memorable about the cranes. My friend Tom and I parked a good half mile from the wetlands where we hoped the Sandhills were congregated. As we hiked toward the water, we started to hear an unfamiliar sound. Before long the loud, rolling, raucous sound stopped us in our tracks. It was the cranes.

Sandhill 10Sandhill 11Sandhill 12The cranes left the wetlands in small groups, heading to feed before nightfall.