SULPHUR SPRINGS VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department is estimating more than 32,000 sandhill cranes are in the Sulphur Springs Valley. The largest concentration is in the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in McNeal.
The Willcox Playa area has 7,414 cranes, Bonita 2,551, Crane Lake 2,044, and 896 in the Safford Valley/Duncan area. Game and Fish conducted its annual crane count on January 6th.
The cranes usually fly out as a group at dawn to feed, gleaning grain from farmer's fields. Most of the cranes follow this feeding pattern, but some linger in or near their roosts. They return from feeding between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The cranes typically begin to arrive around mid-September to early October. They leave around mid-February but sometimes stay until the middle of March.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has trust responsibility for managing more than 800 native wildlife species - the most of any inland state.