Birdwatching Opportunities in washington

Sandhill crane

Grus canadensis

Sandhill Crane - Birdwatching in Okanogan County Photo by Mary Kiesau

"Okanogan County is fortunate to be one of the few places in Washington where one can regularly see - and hear- Sandhill Cranes each spring and fall as they migrate. This past weekend a large group was seen flying south above Winthrop and Twisp. It was spectacular! While large flocks of them are known to stop in and around Othello, WA every March, here in Okanogan County you can count yourself pretty lucky if you ever see one on the ground, taking a break in a cut corn or hay field, or stopping over briefly at a wetland. Mostly, it's the unique bugling call we hear first, and then we look up knowing it's something odd and special, and see anywhere from a single crane to hundreds of cranes. What a sight! But that sound is so bizarre. How is it made? Sandhills make at least 20 different vocalizations. The loud, rolling bugle or trumpeting sound is thought to be used to organize groups and keep everyone coordinated in flight and on the ground. Inside their long necks is a long trachea that coils into the sternum and develops the interesting harmonics and low pitch of the honking bugle call that catches our attention. "

Osprey - Birdwatching in Okanogan County Photo by Mary Kiesau

Fun Facts! 

Information from the Seattle Audubon Society
  • Sandhill Cranes are big birds, with long legs and necks, long pointed beaks, and wingspans which can be over six feet.
  • During the breeding season, Sandhill Cranes paint themselves by preening mud, which serves as camouflage, into their feathers.
  • The young learn migratory routes from adults; without this modeling, they do not migrate.
  • The Sandhill Crane is the most abundant crane worldwide.
Snadhill Crane - Birdwatching in Okanogan County Photo by Mary Kiesau