Viewing sandhill cranes safely during the pandemic

This year, the Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, we realize that people still want to go out to see the cranes.

To do so, people should follow a few simple rules. First, everyone should adhere to CDC guidelines. Wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, keep physical distance, and avoid mixing with other people. Also, avoid sharing binoculars, cameras and other equipment that might be contaminated with the virus.

Sandhill Cranes in the Lodi area are mostly found in three locations; The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, Staten Island, and the Cosumnes River Preserve. Because the cranes congregate in these concentrated areas, people will too. So it is important to be mindful of the birds. Keep your distance, don’t disturb their resting and feeding, make slow and steady movements. If the cranes become alarmed, back away. We don’t just want to protect people; we want to keep the cranes safe too.

Once you have selected a viewing site, it is important to be mindful of people and safety. Respect public and private property. Park only in approved sites and leave room for others. Roads in the delta are narrow with many hazards. Be alert if you stop or slow to view the cranes. Trespassing is a crime and it could place you in danger. Be a positive ambassador for the birding community by remaining only in approved public access areas.

We should all be mindful of protecting nature. Stay on trails and avoid damaging plants and marsh areas. Dispose of waste properly and remember that restrooms and trash receptacles may not be available. Limit your impact on the environment. It’s a good idea to carpool with people in your bubble.

By following these simple practices, you and your loved ones will have a safe and enjoyable experience watching our sandhill cranes.

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