State wildlife officials have opened registration for annual tours to observe greater sandhill cranes, a threatened bird that visits the Sacramento region each winter.
The cranes took a more prominent place in the news this week when the California Department of Water Resources announced plans to route a giant water diversion tunnel through Staten Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The island, owned by The Nature Conservancy, is designated as protected habitat for cranes.
Sandhill cranes are thought to be oldest bird species on Earth, with fossil records dating back 10 million years.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife organizes free docent-led crane-viewing tours from October through February at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, near Lodi in San Joaquin County. Participants will also see other species, including swans, songbirds and raptors.
Tours are available the first three weekends of each month, October through February. To register, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/cranetour.
Self-guided tours at the reserve are also available. And bird enthusiasts can also enjoy the 17th annual Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival Nov. 1-3.
For more information, visit www.cranefestival.com.
Contact The Bee's Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.