FOLBR - Friends Of the Lower Blue River

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The Sandhill Crane Migration Through Colorado

As the Monte Vista Crane Festival prepares for its 40th year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff and volunteers are once again eager to assist visitors to the event as it returns to a full in-person format.

The highlight of the three-day festival, to be held this year from March 10-12, is the spectacle of more than 20,000 greater sandhill cranes making their annual spring migration and stopping over in southern Colorado as they transition from winter habitat to breeding range in the north.

Those interested in attending official event sites to see the sandhill cranes and other bird species can reserve tickets using the link below. CPW staff and volunteers will support outdoor scope sites and be on hand to help answer questions.

CPW will also host a booth at the Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista throughout the event to provide additional information and learning opportunities.

Attendees may also attend a talk from 1-2 p.m. Saturday, March 11 regarding elk on the San Luis Valley refuge complex. The $5 presentation will be led by Doug Ouren, the Elk Distribution and Dispersal Coordinator for CPW’s Habitat Partnership Program.

Cranes are migratory birds, and the Rocky Mountain population of greater sandhill cranes is estimated at roughly 20,000. Much of the population spends its winter in nesting grounds south in New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico and will migrate north in the spring to summer breeding grounds in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Cranes are among the oldest living species on the planet, with fossil records dating back 9 million years. The birds that migrate through Colorado are the largest of the North American sandhill crane subspecies standing 4-feet tall with a wingspan of up to 7 feet and weighing in at 11 pounds. Besides their imposing size, the birds issue a continuous and distinctive call.

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