Posts Tagged ‘Birds of Heaven’

A Sandhill Crane family at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

I just started reading The Birds of Heaven by Peter Matthiessen. The birds he refers to are cranes, of which there are 15 species, 11 of which are considered threatened or endangered. While the book was published in 2001, nothing seems to have changed much since then.

I have seen three of the crane species: Whooping and Sandhill cranes found in North America and the Grey-Crowned Crane, which I saw in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.

Where I live here in Tucson, Sandhill Cranes can easily be seen. They gather at a place just two hours away from me at a place called Whitewater Draw, where they spend the winters. I’m also seen Sandhill Cranes in Texas and in Utah, where I was privileged to see them conduct their mating dance. And I once had several fly overhead just a few feet above me. It was magical.

The Grey-Crowned Crane sighting in Africa was a one-time thing but I’ve been privileged to see Whooping Cranes twice on the Texas Gulf Coast, where they winter. The first sighting was at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the second was from a boat out of Port Aransas.

It was in Port Aransas that I met George Archibald, who wrote the forward in Matthiessen’s book. George is the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation and is considered the Quixote of craniacs. I attended a workshop of his in which he entered wearing a crane outfit, which we learned he used in raising crane chicks so they would not become used to humans before being released in the wild.

I can’t help but think I’m going to enjoy reading The Birds of Heaven. Cranes are magnificent birds.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion. She is an avid reader, the author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), is always searching for life’s silver lining, and these days learning to age gracefully.

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