HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Hundreds of Sandhill cranes greet the crimson dawn with their primordial call of the wild as they lift off from their roosting grounds at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in deep South Texas.

Soon, they will be departing their winter sanctuary in southernmost Texas winging it northward to their breeding grounds some five thousand miles distant on the tundra of Canada and Alaska.

Since Sandhill cranes can live for 20 years or more in the wild, it is likely that many of them roosting here at Laguna Atascosa have visited this lake many times before.

Cranes are early risers, and the sunrise is just beginning to peek over the distant horizon as the dawn chorus of murmuring geese and distant sandhills greets the morning light.

Later, as the clouds roll in a flock of snow geese linger on the lake framed by spiny yuccas and thorny cactus.

As the days begin to lengthen, the geese will join the Sandhill cranes on their epic migration back to the North Country.

The signs of spring are abundant in deep South Texas as the yuccas are already in bloom, and it won’t be long before the migratory waterfowl feel the inexorable pull to northern nesting grounds.

So, enjoy the call of the wild geese and sandhill cranes while it lasts, as soon they will depart until the coming fall when once again they will return to their ancient sanctuary in the land of the yucca.