Originally published Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 03:00p.m.

PHOENIX — Sandhill cranes have returned to southeastern Arizona and the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s live-streaming camera is again trained on their wintering grounds at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area.

The live stream, which can be viewed at www.azgfd.gov/sandhillcranes, offers viewers a glimpse into the wintering habits of up to 14,000 cranes roosting at the wildlife area.

The live stream is offered through March or early April when the birds migrate to northern nesting grounds.

“Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area has again sprung to life with thousands of Sandhill cranes,” AZGFD Watchable Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Meyers said, noting that each year sandhill cranes come as far away as Siberia to winter in southern Arizona.

“It’s a true pleasure to offer this high-definition camera to bring an unfiltered view of our state’s wildlife directly to the public,” Myers said.

The best time to view the birds is a half-hour before and after sunrise, just before they leave to feed for the morning and when they return sometime before noon. The cranes will typically remain at the wildlife area for the remainder of the day, and with the inclusion of infrared technology, the camera now allows viewers to see the birds at night.

While the department will do its best to keep the camera focused on the cranes and other interesting wildlife subjects, there will be times it isn’t possible due to the unpredictability of wildlife. Viewers that don’t see activity when they try the camera are encouraged to routinely check back.

Worldwide there are 15 species of cranes.

Two species are found in North America: the endangered whooping crane and sandhill cranes, which are the most abundant crane species on the planet.

They are wary birds that shy away from areas of dense vegetation that may conceal predators. Cranes prefer to feed and roost in open areas where potential danger can be seen from a distance.

The sandhill crane live-stream is supported by the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which comes from tribal gaming and the Wildlife Viewing Program. The cameras are supported in part by public donations.

To view the live-streaming cameras or to find information on wildlife viewing and upcoming events visit www.azgfd.gov/wildlife and click on “Wildlife Viewing.”

Information provided by Arizona Game and Fish Department