Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes off this week | SteamboatToday.com
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Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes off this week

Cranes make their way through a meadow southeast of Steamboat Springs just off of Routt County Road 35 on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. The 11th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival flies Sept. 1-4.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Birds of a feather flock together, and fans of a certain beloved regional avian will be spread out across Northwest Colorado in the coming days.

The 11th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes flight Sept. 1-4 with a full schedule of events celebrating the greater Sandhill cranes, which are among the area’s most notable wildlife.

Among the festival activities are guided tours to observe the majestic birds and other fauna, as well as educational opportunities for all ages including lectures, art workshops, hands-on activities and much more.



On Thursday, Sept. 1, the festival will kick off with educational crane displays going up at the Bud Werner Library in Steamboat, an informational presentation by naturalists Sandra Noll and Erv Nichols, a children’s storytime and aerial performers, just to name a few of the events.

One offering that festival organizers say people won’t want to miss will come from Chris Wood, director of Cornell Lab’s eBird program.



“The highlight (of Thursday’s events) is the talk from Chris Wood,” said Nancy Merrill, president of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, which puts on the annual festival. “All of them are great events, but he’s a star speaker and we’re really happy he’s coming.”

Through eBird, more than 750,000 people around the world have been reporting their observations, giving researchers an unprecedented look into bird migration. According to Wood, these observations are empowering science and conservation around the world because birds often act as one of the most accessible and sensitive indicators of ecosystem health and climate change.


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The majority of festival events will be in Steamboat Springs and Hayden, but organizers have also expanded the offerings in Craig and Moffat County as well. For a full schedule for the Yampa Valley Crane Festival, go to ColoradoCranes.org/Festival-Schedule/.

Most festival events are open to the public and free for attendees, but registration will be required for the following events.

Guided sunrise crane viewing shuttles. Crane experts will take the group to a place where cranes gather so that people can experience the cranes in their natural environment. Noll and Erv will explain the behavior, physiology and family connections of cranes as the group watches them feed, socialize and dance in the fields.

Scenic Excursion by Pontoon Boat. Enjoy a scenic tour by pontoon boat along the shores of beautiful Steamboat Lake. Although cranes may not be visible, plenty of other birds and wildlife should be. The tour will be led by Julie Arington of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Birds and Butterflies. Editor of Birding Magazine Ted Floyd and Andrew Floyd will lead a bird and butterfly walk at the Yampa River Botanic Park.

Nature’s Educators Live Raptor Photo Shoot. Join Nature’s Educators and wildlife photographer Chris Becea for this unique opportunity to take photos of live raptors up close in their natural setting. This is open to photographers at all levels.

Learning About Insects, Herps and Birds at Carpenter Ranch. This presentation will be led by Hannah and Ted Floyd, and participants will learn how to use iNaturalist and Seek by iNat app while learning about insects, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and birds at the historic Carpenter Ranch near Hayden. This event is suitable for people of all ages, including families and children.


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