As Sandhill Cranes begin to arrive on Galveston Island to spend the winter, the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council opens registration for Holiday with the Cranes, which is set for Saturday and Dec. 10.
Holiday with the Cranes is an island experience that offers nature enthusiasts a unique opportunity to spend a weekend observing and celebrating the flocks of Sandhill Cranes that migrate to Galveston each winter. Events include indoor and outdoor nature activities and presentations, combined with the ambience of historical Galveston Island.
The impressive three-to-four-foot tall Sandhill Cranes, known for their size and the bright red cap atop their heads, arrive in Galveston late October and depart late February through early March. There are 15 species of cranes around the world and only two are found in North America, the Whooping Crane, which is endangered, and the most abundant, the Sandhill Crane. Come find out just what it is that makes a crane a crane and enjoy observing the Sandhill Cranes and other resident and wintering birds.
Holiday with the Cranes provides opportunities for Gulf Coast winter birding, educational and entertaining learning, and outdoor adventure. Events include:
• Dawn Patrol is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see breathtaking views of cranes in flight as they awaken and leave their roosting grounds at sunrise. This experience, at a private location on the West End of Galveston Island, will be complete with a symphony of trumpeting crane calls and the drumbeat of flapping wings overhead.
• Coffee & Cranes with Jim Stevenson Galveston’s own local ornithologist will present Cranes: Worldwide to Galveston Island. After a lively presentation and discussion, we will embark on a self-driving tour to crane hot spots to see Sandhill Cranes as they forage and play. Viewing areas will be outfitted with spotting scopes, and local experts will be on hand to assist and answer questions.
• East End Winter Coastal Birding is an adventurous birding tour to a diverse habitat to see other wintering and resident birds. Small buses will drive the loop roads and beach area around the East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve, East End Seawall Blvd., Boddeker Drive and Apffel Park. Local avian experts will guide this ride/easy walk adventure designed for birders of all skill levels.
• Dawn Patrol (second offering) is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see breathtaking views of cranes in flight as they awaken and leave their roosting grounds at sunrise. This experience, at a private location on the West End of Galveston Island, will be complete with a symphony of trumpeting crane calls and the drumbeat of flapping wings overhead.
• Winter Birding on the Isle’s West End will take participants by small buses to favorite West End birding hot spots including freshwater ponds, coastal marshes, bay waters and the beach. The trip will feature Sandhill Cranes, multiple species of ducks and hawks, White-tailed Kites, and close looks at sandpipers, gulls, terns, and American Oystercatchers.
Visit www.galvestonnaturetourism.org/holiday-with-the-cranes/ for additional details on each event and to register. Registration prices vary based on event and occupancy is limited.
Holiday with the Cranes is presented by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, a nonprofit volunteer organization that helps connect people with nature experiences and outdoor adventures, and promotes the value of natural habitats and resources in the Galveston area.