Black-Necked Cranes Finally Land In Lhasa For The Winter
Every year, as autumn draws to a close and the winter comes in, the wetlands around Lhasa and the Lhasa River Valley (also known as the Ryu River) come to life with hordes of one of the world’s rarest birds, the Black-Necked Crane in Tibet. While the winter turns the land less green and lush, the birds fly south from their summer breeding grounds in northern Tibet, Xinjiang, and southern Mongolia to spend their winters in less harsh environments.

One of the most concentrated areas of Lhasa for these beautiful birds is in Lhünzhub County, to the north of the city, where the river valleys of the Lhasa River and the Nyang River meet, and where the wetlands are at their most fertile. This winter feeding and nesting ground has become a popular spot for twitchers from all around the globe to come and visit these exciting birds.

Black-necked cranes are one of the rarest birds in the world, and possibly the rarest in Asia, and are a protected species in China and many of the other Asian countries where they can be found. Standing around 55 inches tall, these graceful birds have grey-white feathers with a black legs and feet, red crown, and black head and neck, which give them their name. The cranes can be found across the northern area of the plateau, as well as in parts of India and Bhutan.

Black-necked cranes are revered in Tibetan Buddhism, and is protected as part of the Buddhist culture across all of the regions where they are found. Known to be the State Bird of the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir, it is celebrated with several festivals across Bhutan, and revered in Tibet by the people that live around Lhasa as a good omen.

The summer breeding areas of the cranes lie in the northern areas of the Tibetan plateau, stretching into Mongolia and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture, where they breed on the alpine meadows, lakesides, and riverine valley marshes. AS the winter descends on the plateau, and the northern areas get colder and start to see snow, the cranes head south for the winter to the milder climes of Lhasa and the lower river valleys.

Found predominantly in the area of Lhünzhub County, the birds spend the days flying off to forage for food in the surrounding fields, where the last remnants of the late harvest give them ample food to live on. The cranes all feed in a group, and when landing or leaving one of the feeding grounds, do so as if they are of one mind. They are even renowned for having one bird from the group on watch duty at all times when feeding, and changing watch regularly, so everyone gets fed. The best time to see these unique birds in Lhünzhub County, or in the Lalu Wetlands in western Lhasa where they are also found in winter, is at dawn or dusk, as they fly off to forage or return to roost for the night.

Tibet Winter Tours are the best season to see the black-necked Crane in Tibet and Explore Tibet provides best Tibet winter tours with authentic Tibetan experiences and competitive tour prices.
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