Galveston: Sandhill cranes returning to island

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by Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council / Special to The Daily News

khou.com

Posted on November 17, 2010 at 9:55 AM

GALVESTON, Texas — ’Tis the season for sandhill cranes on Galveston Island.

Area outdoor enthusiasts await the arrival every fall of these large, majestic birds. Now, Breakfast with Cranes, on Dec. 11, provides an organized tour to help make sure they’re included in your holiday season.

Enjoy breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Galveston Country Club, 14228 Stewart Road, and meet Joan Garland of the International Crane Foundation, who will talk about the organization’s worldwide crane studies and conservation efforts.

See the birds for yourself beginning at 9:15 a.m. during a convoy by car to island crane hot spots. About 225 cranes were sighted on a similar tour mid-December last year.

"Looking for Sandhill cranes is an annual adventure for many of us who live on the west end of the island," Susan Lewis, vice-president of education and events for the Galveston Island Nature Tourism, said. "Last year’s crane breakfast was such a success with Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council members that we decided to make it an annual event and open it to the public."

Of the 15 species of cranes in existence, Sandhill cranes are the most abundant and Whooping cranes are the rarest. These two are the only crane species in North America, and both winter in Texas.

"Breakfast with the Cranes is definitely something unique to include in your family’s holiday season," Lewis said.

As bird species go, Sandhill cranes are ancient. According to the International Crane Foundation, a crane fossil from Miocene formations thought to be about 10 million years old was found in Nebraska and is structurally identical to the Sandhill crane, making it the oldest known still surviving bird species.

Smaller Sandhills average about 6 or 7 pounds and stand 3 to 31/2 feet tall. The largest average 10 to 14 pounds and are 41/2 to 5 feet tall.

The Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council is dedicated to developing nature-based educational and recreational activities, and promoting the value of the natural habitats and resources of Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. The organization is part of the City’s East End Lagoon Committee, which is working to develop the area into a managed, world-class natural recreational area and nature preserve.

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At A Glance

WHAT: Sandhill Crane birding adventure with International Crane Foundation staff to island winter migration sites.

WHEN: 8 a.m. Dec. 11

WHERE: Breakfast and program – Galveston Country Club, 14228 Stewart Road, Galveston; Birding tour – west end of Galveston Island

ADMISSION: $10 Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council members; $15 nonmembers

This story was brought to you thanks to khou.com’s partnership with The Galveston County Daily News.

 

 

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