March 1 marks start of another Greater Sandhill Crane Week in northwest Colorado

A baby sandhill crane, called a colt, stays close to mom while feeding near a pond west of Steamboat Springs last summer.
John F. Russell/Pilot & Today

The first week in March will once again be Greater Sandhill Crane Week in the Yampa Valley, celebrating the return of about 1,200 of the lanky birds to the Yampa Valley.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners proclaimed Crane week for March 1-8 Tuesday, and commissioners in Moffat County have traditionally done the same.

Sandhill cranes are considered one of the oldest living species of bird, dating back 2.5 million years. They create a bugling sound that can travel miles. Each year, the Rocky Mountain flock of greater Sandhill cranes starts to make its way to nesting sites in wetlands across northwest Colorado.

“They’re considered one of the best dancers in the animal kingdom,” said Erin Gelling, program director for the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition.

Sandhill cranes are considered a tier one species of concern in Colorado, which means it is among the highest conservation priorities in the state. Cranes are often considered an ambassador bird, which means conserving their habitat protects the area for other animals, as well.

“Greater Sandhill Crane week is one way we can welcome the cranes back to the Yampa Valley and to raise awareness for their habitat,” Gelling said.

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