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Birds of the Western Slope March 23, 2016

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Photo©Kent Clegg

More Cranes?
(I don't know)

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday there were cranes, cranes and more cranes. Today nothing. I can usually hear them calling from our back porch.

I drive down to the reservoir with windows open, hoping to catch a crane sound. The world seems hopelessly empty without cranes ... and I remember times past when this happened. One evening we had about 1,500 and the next morning there was nothing! We finally figured out that something had spooked the birds and they had flown off early. Of course, we wondered what might have frightened them: coyote, feral dogs, people? We never knew.

And it seems that most of the time we don't know. The phone rings, and all I can say is that we THINK we have about 120 cranes this evening. Jim Wallace said in his email that the birds came down and went immediately to the water to drink -- that means that they were hidden in the reeds.

Yesterday a large group (over 1,000) had gone northward but some were in Vela's cornfield (heads down as they foraged -- out of sight if you didn't know exactly where to look). And now we have over 250 sandhill, but the wind is still blowing hard and all that I can do is hope that the birds find shelter for this night. I check the email one last time, and here's a message from Jim Wallace. He found six cranes at the basin on this cold night.

People call. When will the cranes arrive? I don't know. When will they leave? I don't know. Will there be cranes tonight? I don't know.

At season's close (mid April) we usually have 10,000 to 15,000 of the Rocky Mountain population of Greater Sandhill Cranes. But this is only mid March! And we have had 4,476 already before Crane Days. It's early!

Keep alert for our birds and if you see/hear them, please do call the hot-line (970-835-8391). Thanks!

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Surface Creek
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Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn
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