Southwest Birders
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December 2023
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Sandhill Cranes Return
Filed under: California
Posted by: Bob @ 4:40 pm

Hi all,

First a quick note about the Blue-footed Booby invasion at the Salton Sea with 18 birds reported last week. That number is now up to an unprecedented 70+ individuals at the Salton Sea!!!

The Sandhill Cranes (SACR) have begun to return for the winter. On Saturday September 21 there were 43 showed up south of Brawley near Dogwood and Keystone Roads. Henry Detwiler had a smaller number at Unit One of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR (SBSSNWR) that same day. Friday evening at sunset, Sep 27, I counted 168 coming in to their traditional roost site. Last year there were nearly 1,000 SACR wintering in the Imperial Valley with about 750 of those individuals hanging out south of Brawley. Their numbers should rise quickly and it is quite the spectacle to have hundreds of SACR fly over at once! They stand near four feet tall and their loud calls can be heard for several miles.

A great location to see them in flight is by parking in the area of the wide pullout on Dogwood Road at the warehouse facility just north of Keystone Road on Dogwood Road. Please do not block the gate! I call this spot the Crane Crossing. Every morning, just as the sun rises, and every evening shortly before the sun sets, they come streaming over Dogwood Road. They tend to roost at the waterfowl hunt club on Keystone Road (PRIVATE PROPERTY) but can be viewed from Keystone Road. Keystone and Dogwood Roads are very busy with lots of truck traffic so park well away from the pavement and stand even farther from it.

Video of the SACR flying in to roost on this day can be viewed HERE.

Here is my eBird report for this visit.

Hunt club ponds, Imperial, US-CA
Sep 27, 2013 5:32 PM - 6:49 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments:     Started filling ponds 9-26. Water started second pond today. Submitted from  BirdLog NA for Android v1.9.2
19 species (+2 other taxa)

Mallard  2000
Northern Shoveler  12
Great Egret  4
Snowy Egret  7
Cattle Egret  120
White-faced Ibis  400
Northern Harrier  1
Sandhill Crane  168     No juveniles.
Black-necked Stilt  25
American Avocet  6
Killdeer  8
Greater Yellowlegs  35
Least Sandpiper  150
Western Sandpiper  4
peep sp.  200
Long-billed Dowitcher  200
Rock Pigeon  2
Mourning Dove  3
American Kestrel  1
swallow sp.  2000
Red-winged Blackbird  100

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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