Registration Open for 7th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival, set for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 |

Registration Open for 7th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival, set for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2

Craig Press staff report
Greater sandhill cranes will soon fill the Yampa Valley with their distinctive calls.
Courtesy photo
Event schedule Yampa Valley Crane Festival’s daily schedule of events is posted at

CRAIG — The seventh annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival is set for Thursday, Aug. 30, through Sunday, Sept. 2, in Steamboat Springs and Hayden. The festival celebrates the majestic greater sandhill cranes as they migrate through the Yampa Valley and will included guided crane viewings, expert speakers, films, bird and nature walks, workshops, live raptors, a live raptor photo shoot, children’s activities, and more.

Anne Lacy, head of crane research for the International Crane Foundation, will be keynote speaker for the festival. Lacy will provide an overview of the entire sandhill crane population, from tropical forests to Arctic tundra, and the places they inhabit between.

Acclaimed science and nature writer Jennifer Ackerman, author of the bestselling book, “The Genius of Birds,” will explore the brilliance of birds and delve into the mysteries of the avian brain during her talk., and John Azua, Denver Zoo’s curator of birds, will present a talk on the Hooded Crane Species Survival Plan in North America.

Additional expert presentations about sandhill cranes include former Audubon Rowe Sanctuary director Paul Tebbel and “Birding” magazine editor Ted Floyd. A talk about cranes as symbols in Chinese culture will be given by Pam Liu, illustrated with photos of jade carvings, silk textiles, carpets, and Chinese paintings.

HawkQuest will host an educational booth at which festival attendees can visit live raptors, including a bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Harris =hawk, barn owl, and great-horned owl. HawkQuest will also offer a special live raptor photo shoot with these same birds — a session geared toward photographers of all levels.

The festival will also present a special screening of the film “Free like a Crane,” an award-winning documentary by French filmmakers Maxence Lamoureux and Arnaud Devroute featuring Eurasian cranes and their migration from Estonia to Ethiopia. The main character in the film is the crane dubbed Ahja 5, which was provided with a transmitter by Estonian crane researchers. In tracking his migration pathway, the film moves from Estonia to Europe and Asia to Ethiopia. More than a nature film about a crane, the film also shares a deeper cultural background, while looking at the meaning of cranes for humans in their migration pathway.

Additional festival highlights include educational displays, guided bird walks in some of the Yampa Valley’s most magnificent settings, birding by pontoon boat at Steamboat Lake, a community picnic at The Nature Conservancy’s historic Carpenter Ranch, a ranch tour of a “crane-friendly” agricultural operation, a guided nature hike at the Steamboat Ski Area, and a sketch-a-bird session, including live birds. An optics booth and an “Optics 101” talk, presented by Chip Clouse, of Front Range Birding Company, will be new additions to this year’s festival.

“The upcoming Yampa Valley Crane Festival, sponsored by the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition is a family-friendly, four-day event that will appeal to everyone, from the professional birder to the casual wildlife watcher. It seeks to educate the public about cranes and to emphasize conservation of the special habitat that supports the cranes and the many other species of birds and wildlife in Northwest Colorado,” Azua said.

Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition is dedicated to the conservation and protection of sandhill cranes in Colorado. The Yampa Valley Crane Festival is presented by the CCCC, with help from gold sponsors Keller Law, Mountain Valley Bank, Xcel Energy Hayden Station; silver sponsor Abby Jensen Photography and bronze sponsors David Lamb/Edward Jones, Off the Beaten Path, and Photo Express House. Festival Partners include the Bud Werner Memorial Library, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, City of Steamboat Springs/Steamboat in the Summertime, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, International Crane Foundation, PhotoGraphicsArt, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., The Nature Conservancy, Yampa Valley Land Trust, USDA Forest Service, Yampatika, Yampa Valley Electric Association: Operation Round-Up, and many other local businesses and organizations.

Resort Lodging Company is the official lodging partner for the 2018 Yampa Valley Crane Festival and will donate a percentage of proceeds to the CCCC. Lodging reservations for the festival can be made at or by calling 877-302-2628.

This year’s festival coincides with Steamboat Springs’ Wild West Air Fest during Labor Day weekend. The Wild West Air Fest brings nationally renowned pilots and vintage planes to Steamboat for an air show, providing edge-of-the-seat excitement as they perform thrilling aerobatics and formation flying.

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