After leaving City of Rocks, we moved on to Arizona and spent one night at a place called Whitewater Draw. This was one of Louise’s bucket list places. Whitewater Draw is an area protected by the Arizona Fish and Game department. It is a shallow body of water surrounded by farmland which provides migrating birds both a protected place to roost as well as an easy winter food source in the harvested corn fields nearby. (We don’t know why they call some bodies of water down here “draws,” and Googling hasn’t helped us figure it out. Maybe because it “draws” water from a particular source? Who knows. Also, there is no “whitewater” here, just shallow standing water.)
Whitewater Draw is famous for the astounding numbers of Sand Hill Cranes that winter here. Depending on the year and conditions, there have been as many as 20-30 thousand of them. Each morning they take off en mass somewhere around sunrise to go feed in surrounding fields, returning around mid day to socialize, digest and sleep.
The following three pictures show two cranes in a mating dance, where they bow, ruffle feathers at each other, jump into the air and sometimes even throw grass or sticks!
Sandhill Cranes aren’t alone here. We saw only a small number of the hundreds of birds that gather at Whitewater Draw. Here are some others: