The sandhill crane is making its annual migration to the Central Valley - this time with a new name.
Previously known as Grus canadensis, genetic work has led scientists to reclassify the bird as Antigone canadensis (named after Oedipus’ daughter and half-sister in Greek mythology).
“Antigone is most associated with loyal devotion to family, and this brand fits well with observing cranes. Monogamy is displayed among mated pairs, and parents and juveniles are viewable together, moving about in family units of three or four,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Interpretive Supervisor David Moore. “This season, the docents have a new name to interpret for our sandhill crane viewers.”
CDFW provides the public a chance to see an annual bird migration and learn the latest on the sandhill crane - including the name change. The Sandhill Crane Wetland Tour Program offers weekend tours October through February at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve outside of Lodi.
The late-afternoon tours, which begin Oct. 1, are offered on the first through third Saturdays and Sundays of each month for the five-month duration of the cranes’ fall/winter season stay in the valley. Tours consist of viewing sandhill cranes and other unique wintering waterfowl, hearing a presentation on sandhill cranes and their habitat, and viewing the cranes’ impressive, nightly behaviors at a location that is only open to the public during tour hours.
Online pre-registration is required and may be done up to eight weeks prior to the tour date. Registration is now open for October dates and will soon open for November tour dates. More information may be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour.
The cranes are a great draw to the Lodi area and CDFW Interpretive Services staff has provided important messages of conservation to more than 20,000 visitors on the docent-led tours over the last two decades.
The reserve is readily accessible at any time for self-guided tours. A series of informative interpretive panels at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, South Unit on Woodbridge Road provides visitors with a wealth of information about the cranes and their habitat. Staying until sundown is recommended for witnessing sights and sounds of the “fly-over” as groups of cranes return to roosting spots for the evening.
CDFW is also a co-sponsor the Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival, slated for Nov. 4-6, 2016. Information about festival tours and activities is available at www.cranefestival.com/index.php.