Each autumn, when the black-necked cranes return to Phobjika, they are said to circle nearby Gangtey Goemba three times before landing, as a sign of thanks to the monks who have prayed for their return.
Only known to science since 1876, the the IUCN Red List lists this shy species of crane as "vulnerable." A few hundred individuals fly to Bhutan's serene Phobjika Valley -- the country's largest wetland area -- to escape the Tibetan Plateau's frigid winters. The RSPN (Royal Society for Protection of Nature, which created the center) has monitored the cranes here since 1987, and bird arrivals have been steadily increasing in the three decades since.
In addition to informative displays and video presentations about these special birds, the information center's viewing room offers a superb vantage point from which to observe the cranes through the center's high-powered spotting scopes.