Birds of the Western Slope Feb. 21, 2018

By Evelyn Horn

Birds of the Western Slope Feb. 21, 2018 | Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn

Photo by Bill SmokerĀ© Sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache.

(Here, there, and everywhere)

The phone rings, and it's a fun call for me. Vera Schultz has read my column about the spotted towhee and she had three towhees at her feeder. It's always such fun when someone has read my column! Last year she even had a green-tailed towhee (but the cat attacked it).

One of the useful things about the computer is the emails that I receive. I've a folder (2017) which includes all of those messages dealing with our cranes. On Dec. 7, 2017, Vic Zerbi had 24 at Ridgway. Carol Ortenzi reported 450 plus more cranes along the Gunnison River on Nov. 30. On Nov. 17 Robert Wilson had 30-80 and Leon Stigen had 25 plus and about 50 in a "V" formation overhead. A nice group of cranes was reported by Jim Beatty from Durango. On Dec. 12 Mike Henwood and Grand Valley birders saw 2,000 plus a large group going to roost on their Audubon Society trip to the Escalante State Wildlife Area west of Delta. On Dec. 31, Dick reported about 1,000 birds at the new "wintering flock" location (G Road near Delta).

And of course, this brings up many new questions but few answers. This crane group has been growing every year and last season Jim Wallace had a report of about 4,000! With global warming, are the birds choosing to stay here rather than cross the wintry mountains? Are the farmers leaving more food on the ground for the birds? Are all of these birds "our" cranes that come to Hart's Basin each spring? Are there some that fly to the Yampa Valley to add to their population for the fall festival? We really don't know who's who!

And in our phone discussions, Jim Wallace and I do wonder! But we've decided that we simply DON'T KNOW! Each season brings new understandings and loads of information. But is it "reliable"? Keep these ideas in mind as we await our coming cranes!

Black Canyon Audubon will host this year's Crane Days and Jim Durr will have his website up (www.EckertCranesDays).

I hope to manage the hotline again this year and, with luck, I'll have a report each night.