Meet crane conservationist George Archibald at 6th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival this weekend
- All 15 species of cranes can be seen in special exhibits at the headquarters of the International Crane Foundation near Baraboo, Wisconsin.
- The International Crane Foundation, through education and financial support, empowers gifted and dedicated conservationists in many nations of Africa and Asia to dedicate their lives to the welfare of cranes.
- The International Crane Foundation is a private organization supported by about 8,000 members, most of whom are citizens of the United States. Through their support, goodwill emanates from the heart of this great country around the world on the wings of cranes.
STEAMBOAT TODAY — In 1954, the year the nesting area of the whooping cranes was discovered in northern Canada, a life-long passion emerged.
George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, remembers his 8-year-old self, sitting in a one-room schoolhouse in Nova Scotia, Canada.
“I was listening to a radio drama about the discovery,” said Archibald, who is back in Steamboat since his first visit six years ago for the inaugural Yampa Valley Crane Festival. “That was the start of a life-long interest.”
Celebrating the majestic greater sandhill cranes as they migrate through the Yampa Valley, the sixth annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival returns this weekend.
Headquartered at Bud Werner Memorial Library, the festival, hosted by the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, will include an array of events including guided crane viewings, nature and bird walks, films, bird art, workshops, children’s activities, live raptors presented by HawkQuest, ranch tours, a community picnic at The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch and more.
“It’s been said that everything a crane does is graceful,” Archibald said. “Protecting it is like preserving the greatest works of art. They are the tallest birds in North America, with calls that carry long-distances and (they) are of outstanding beauty, in white, black and red.”
Archibald, who co-founded the International Crane Foundation with Ronald Sauey in the spring of 1973 — when cranes were on the brink of extinction — is the keynote speaker for this year’s festival. His presentation will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday in Library Hall.
Archibald will talk about “My Life with Cranes,” his new book of collected stories about a life of crane conservation and the work the International Crane Foundation does around the world.
“Cranes are the ambassador species for conservation,” said Nancy Merrill, one of the event’s main organizers. “People love cranes. But, this festival is really not just about the cranes; it’s about all of the other birds and wildlife that share a habitat with the cranes. If people get excited and want to conserve the crane, it has a synergistic effect and impacts many species of birds and wildlife.”
A new addition to today’s lineup of events is the yard art cranes, set for 4 to 7 p.m. today and from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday on the library lawn. In addition, the local group Broad Band will perform a free outdoor concert among the cranes from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Not only that, award-winning painter Joan Hoffman will be plein air painting a yard art crane live on the lawn, which will go up for immediate auction once completed. Funds from the auction will benefit the Crops for Cranes conservation program, which will be adding prime local habitat for the sandhill cranes. Bidding closes at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Other speakers include John Azua, curator of birds at the Denver Zoological Gardens for over 19 years; Erv Nichols and Sandra Noll, who travel extensively as lecturers and guides, sharing their skills as naturalists, photographers and interpreters; Kin Quitigua, master falconer and longtime environmental educator, who founded HawkQuest in 1986; Liza Rossi, Colorado Parks and Wildlife bird conservation coordinator; and Ted Floyd, bird walk leader, speaker and editor of Birding magazine, the flagship publication of the American Birding Association.
“I hope attendees will gain a greater knowledge about cranes and what can be done on a local and worldwide basis to help cranes and the fragile environment they share with all other living things,” Archibald said.
To view the full schedule of events, visit coloradocranes.net.
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