Sandhill Cranes are encouraged to stay in the Rio Grande Valley through the winter by corn crops planted specifically for them and other migratory birds. State and National Wildlife officials coordinate their efforts, so that the birds and land are best cared for. Here in New Mexico, the cranes are considered something of a winter treasure by anyone who has seen them.
If one looks closely at the corn in the foreground, one can see the distinctive red patches on the heads of many sandhill cranes. The corn provides food and also good protection for the birds.
As I was photographing in this area, a motorcyclist drove by. The cranes appear to be used to cars driving by, but they were spooked by the motorcycle. In the end, I was almost grateful to the cyclist, because he gave me a chance to photograph cranes in the corn and in flight.
Sandhill cranes really are a sight to behold along the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico in winter!
Although as a photographer I really love to show birds in flight, it is also important to photograph them as they are usually seen for longer periods of time. Many sandhill cranes overwinter in the Rio Grande River Valley of New Mexico, which is desert. The riparian area along the river is often referred to as “the bosque,” and it is a very important environmental areas for many living things.
Corn (and other crops) are planted in State and National Wildlife Refuge areas to attract and keep overwintering birds such as the cranes.