Birds of the Western Slope April 5, 2017

Photo by Bill Schmoker

And More Cranes

I can hear them calling. I see them in the clouds above ­-- when they aren't there! And I know that I will continue to hear them. Every time the refrigerator turns on, every time the gas heater turns on, every time I hear some common, ordinary sound, I hear cranes calling. I've decided that there must be a name for my ailment. Maybe the name is Crane-tin-i-tis. Rather like "tin-tin-i-tis"!

Several years ago, when Jim Durr and his wife, Jeanne, ran the Surface Creek Winery, they arranged for my presentations on cranes. They even set me up to sell my books! What a delight those years were! And Jim is still counting cranes and he keeps track on his website, EckertCraneDays. The glory of our cranes, past counts and Jim's comments make it very interesting.

And then there are Ken and Jan Lozen, the folks next door. Jan will call to say "CRANES!" And I scurry over to their place to see the birds. What remarkable birds are these ... about four feet tall, long legs, long necks and a red crown. And they talk, and talk, and talk!

Jim and Carol Vela call me too. And I hurry down to see our birds from their viewpoint, often through their sliding glass doors. You may recall the column on their three fledgling barn swallows. That was fun and informative too. I never run out of fascinating bird lore. A ways back, people surmised that the swallows (regardless of species) hibernated in the wetlands during the winter. At first glance, that's easier to believe in than to accept their long migratory flights!

We had good luck for our Crane Days too. Plenty of birds (on the March 17: 800; March 18: 1,100; and March 19: 100), and there were plenty of people as well. I enjoyed being able to make it up to Crane Point, where I was treated like "royalty" and had the assistance of Jimmy Vela throughout the time.

Our crane counts usually come at 10,000 to 13,000 out of the total population of about 20,000 in the Rocky Mountain Sandhill Cranes Population. We have 12,894 now so the migration may be done except for a few stragglers. We'll see. Keep an eye to the sky!

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