Wild+Life is a monthly e-newsletter with news about wildlife-watching activities, wildlife natural history, habitat and research projects benefiting wildlife, fun facts and upcoming events. Sign up to get Wild+Life delivered to your inbox every month.
In This Issue
- Wild Arizona: Sandhill cranes return to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
- Wild Arizona: AZGFD’s 2022 wildlife calendar available now
- Wild Arizona: Oh, deer! Wildlife enthusiasts come to the rescue
- Walk on the Wild Side: Colorado River Nature Center and Wildlife Area
- Upcoming Events: Virtual speaker wildlife series
- Video of the Month: Get to know your deer
Sandhill cranes by the thousands have once again returned to their wintering grounds at the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in southeastern Arizona.
For the next few months, viewers can observe almost 20,000 of these fascinating birds on a live-streaming camera installed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). View the live stream
Of the 47,000-plus sandhill cranes that migrated to Arizona in 2020, a record number — more than 25,000 — spent last winter at the wildlife area near Willcox.
“The sandhill cranes have once again sprung Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area back to life,” said Jeff Meyers, wildlife viewing program manager. “It’s truly a pleasure to offer this unfiltered view of our state’s wildlife directly to the public, giving them a chance to see the migration of this incredible species in action.”
The best time to view the cranes is 30 minutes before and after sunrise, just before they leave to feed for the morning. The leggy birds generally return to the wildlife area before noon, where they will remain for the rest of the day. With the camera being outfitted with infrared technology, viewers also can observe the cranes at night.
AZGFD will do its best to keep the camera focused on the cranes and other interesting wildlife subjects, but there will be times when that isn’t possible because of the unpredictability of wildlife. Viewers who don’t immediately see activity are encouraged to routinely check back.
Across the globe, there are 15 species of cranes. Two species of cranes are found in North America — sandhill, the most abundant species, and the endangered whooping crane.
Sandhills are wary birds that shy away from areas of dense vegetation that may conceal predators. Cranes prefer to feed and roost in open areas where potential danger can be seen from a distance.
The cranes will begin to leave the wildlife area between late February and the middle of March. By April, all of the birds will be on their way to their northern nesting grounds, some as far away as Siberia.
The live stream is supported by the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which comes from tribal gaming and the Wildlife Viewing Program. The cameras are supported in part by public donations.
To view the department’s live-streaming cameras, or to find information on wildlife viewing, visit www.azgfd.gov/wildlife and click on “Wildlife Viewing.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has unveiled its 2022 wildlife calendar, which showcases the winning photographs from its annual contest.
The winning images are featured in the full-size 2022 wildlife calendar, which is published in the November-December 2021 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine.
Isabel Guerra Clark’s photo of desert bighorn sheep at Canyon Lake was awarded best in show and is showcased on the cover. Guerra Clark, of Phoenix, thought she might have a good photo when she saw how the natural light on her subjects was illuminated against the background, thinking to herself the scenery was “very Arizona.”
The best way to get the wildlife calendar is to subscribe to Arizona Wildlife Views, the department’s award-winning magazine. All subscriptions ordered by Dec. 31 will receive the calendar issue and get a great deal of seven issues for $10. Subscriptions make great gifts for all wildlife enthusiasts! (The price goes back to six issues for $12 in January.)
Calendars also can be purchased for $3 at all department offices, while supplies last.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife manager Matt Padilla, several Maricopa Police Department offices, and a local landowner, Greg Hogenes, recently came to the rescue of three mule deer from a canal near Stanfield, Ariz., west of Casa Grande.
A buck managed to climb out of the canal on its own, but the group worked together to safely rescue the two does.
From beach access to the Colorado River, a trail system and interpretive signage, to shade ramadas, benches, viewing decks and boardwalks, the Colorado River Nature Center and Wildlife Area has it all.
The 500-acre facility is located within the city limits of Bullhead City, Ariz., and is intended to provide a natural environment for low-impact recreational uses. It is maintained through a cooperative management agreement between the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bullhead City (City) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
There are several hiking trails from which to choose. The parking lot is adjacent to a paved trail that goes around the backwater ponds at the nature center. This trail has educational signage that describes the local wildlife, sitting benches for casual strolls, and a covered picnic ramada with picnic tables for family outings.
Wildlife in the area is primarily limited to desert species — coyote, bobcat, desert cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbit, desert woodrat, Merriam’s kangaroo rat, and greater roadrunner. Other wildlife that can be seen here on occasion include mountain lion, striped skunk, badger, beaver and gray fox. The Colorado River is historically a travel corridor for many species of migratory birds, waterfowl and native songbirds.
Directions: Take Route 95 south out of Bullhead City about seven miles, then turn west on Richardo Avenue, which leads directly into the nature center.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has partnered with the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) and Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA) to host virtual wildlife lectures. In addition to partnering with SWCC and BTA, the department’s Wildlife Viewing Program will conduct its own critter-based lectures twice each month.
- Water Birds of Arizona — 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 9 (AZGFD). Description: Just add water, and the birds are sure to follow. Arizona, believe it or not, is home to several species of water birds. The best-known place might be Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near Willcox, where more than 20,000 sandhill cranes come to spend the winter. Register
- High Cost of Habitat Fragmentation — 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 6 (AZGFD). Description: Learn about the high cost of habitat fragmentation and how it affects wildlife, ecosystems and humanity. Arizona case studies will be explored, and possible solutions to one of the most major threats posed to wildlife in modern society will be discussed. Register
So you’re out in the backcountry and spot a deer. Is it a mule deer? A white-tailed deer? AZGFD’s wildlife science coordinator, Jim Heffelfinger, explains in detail the differences between Arizona’s two species. A tip: Don’t rely on the antlers — focus on the other end of the animal.