2011 Sandhill Crane Counts

2011 Crane Counts

For  2011


April 6, 2011, Wednesday

400 to 500

What the Hell?!

Just when you get to accept there will be no more cranes, we get this!  If this crane predicting were easy, any dummy could do it.  Thank you Evey for going down tonight to take a look.

April , 2011, Tuesday



April 4, 2011, Monday

12 Cranes this evening

Morning Note – From Nancy Marsh: She called down to Monte Vista to inquire about the Sandhill status (not the Dunes) there.  She was told  that as far as they were concerned the cranes have pretty much migrated out of the San Luis Valley.

We’ll keep watch for a few more days here at Fruitgrowers.

April , 2011, Suday

75 +/- , or 100 to 125

The 75 number is mine at 7:15 pm.
The 100+ number reflects Evelyn
Horn’s  and Jim Wallace’s  count.
With this extremely windy day it’s easy to miss cranes hunkered in tall weeds or flying off.

(My apologies for not getting this posted until Monday.  – Jim Durr)

April 2, 2011, Saturday


April 1, 2011, Friday


Or so.  We had  70 +/- come in at 7:15 pm.   And  I saw my first Merganser of the season

March 31, 2011, Thursday


Will we have another big day?  This has been a strange year for cranes.  At least there more Western Grebes around.

March 30, 2011, Wednesday


March 29, 2011, Tuesday


Sum of three different groups.

March 28, 2011, Monday


March 27, 2011, Sunday


Word on the causeway  is these cranes may have been returnees instead  of new recruits.

March 26, 2011, Saturday

1,400   –  based on the next morning.  I bet some folks disagreed with any count more that a few dozen.  Many birds  were in side pastures out of view from North Road (the causeway)  Still there looked like fewer crames than I saw the evening of the 26th.

1,700 +/-

From 6:30 to 7:00 cranes were moving all over the place.    We all agree there are at least 1,400, but I got the impression there likely are more.  The morning count may settle it.

The morning’s weather forecast doesn’t mention wind but does call for the possibility of rain.  If you go to the reservoir prepare for the possibility of a late liftoff

March 25, 2011, Friday


Unsettled weather has produced unsettled cranes.  Too windy to burn ditches but not too windy to close the dump (at least when I went there).  Did the cranes leave or stay?

A check at 2:30 revealed about 180 – probably holdovers.  With that I felt somewhat  relieved that  we would have a respectable showing for Crane Days activities tomorrow.  Then almost an hour later about 180 cranes were above my house, corkscrewing for elevation, recruiting another 150 or more from only Cranes know where, and then headed towards Grand Junction

Dejectedly I went out to the Reservoir around 6:15 to see what has left.  At first I thought the swamp was drained of cranes.  At the northeast end a few cars were parked with folks looking at a handfull in the tall grass – eventually I detected 14.   Diving on east to turn around another 26 or so came in low and appeared to land, but I didn’t see where.

So all I can offer today is snapshots to represent a motion picture.

Don’t forget to check out tomorrow’s doings at the Event Schedule page – local Bird Maven Evelyn Horn in the morning  and ecologist Ken Strom from Audubon Colorado in the afternoon.

March 24, 2011,  Thursday

230 cranes

Windy day. . . yesterday’s birds?

Saw first Western Grebe, solitary. Certain migrating  birds bring a special joy.  Courting / displaying W.Grebes are one of the special  moments of the migration season.

March 23, 2011,  Wednesday


That’s Evelyn’s number.  When I was there earlier I only saw about half that.

Don’t forget our second Saturday of Crane Days.  Our Morning featured speaker is Evelyn Horn.

And we are very pleased to announce that Ken Strom from Audubon Colorado will make the afternoon  presentation, titled Protecting Cranes at Important Bird Areas

Please see the details on the Event Schedule page.

March 22, 2011,  Tuesday

65 Cranes

Jim W. saw 80 earlier.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some took shelter from the wind.

March 21, 2011,  Monday

(550 counted the morning of March 22)

400 – 500

I’m sorry I didn’t make an entry until 8:30 Tuesday  morning.  I was  not able to get to the reservoir  last night (the 21st).  Below  is an email that  Jim Wallace sent me yesterday.  I think this pretty much sums up the day.

I made a short trip to the reservoir at 1:00 PM. There were a few birds on the two roost areas and then while I was watching they just started dropping in. I ended up with about 500 total. I suspect they may have been birds returning rather than new birds. Only they know.
I checked again at 5:00 PM and came up with about 400 birds hunkering out the wind. There was spray from the waves hitting on the road that was going clear across the pavement at times. Nasty.

March 20, 2011,  Sunday

1,500 to 1,700 Cranes

This is definitely the biggest flight so far this migration.  There were Sandhills all over the place!  – Sure was exciting with cranes flying every direction, but it made a precise count nearly impossible.

March 19, 2011,  Saturday

As many as 600

When I was at the Reservoir from 6:50 to 7:15 I struggled to find 250 or so but I knew there had to be more because of the atypical areas where the cranes are hanging out.  Merry Cox, who seems to know how to count, convinced me she saw at least 400 and described how they were scattering in strange directions around 6:00 pm.  Then I later heard that Jim Wallace is sure there are about 600.

I am sorry I am so late providing this report.  I attended the Colorado Art Ranch reception and poetry and song presentation by Rosemerry Trommer. One interesting note was that when I got home after 9:30pm I could hear cranes in the air from the direction of Fruitgrowers Reservoir.  I live about 1.5 due west of the reservoir.  I have no idea if the cranes I heard were new arrivals or if they were part of the 600 that had already landed but were stirred from their roosts for some reason.

March 18, 2011,  Friday

550 to 600

Maybe more.  See what it looks like in the morning – our first Crane Days Saturday!!!  Then come by Surface Creek winery and Gallery for the Colorado Art Ranch presentations.  Go to our Event Schdule for more details.

March 17, 2011,  Thursday


This again is Jim W.’s number.  I got there  very late and under low light saw only 25 obvious cranes out in the open.

March 16, 2011,  Wednesday

1300  +/- 50  is the revised count based on a more accurate count by Jim Wallace Thursday morning.  I am not surprised given the difficulty counting  the evening of the 16th.

800 to 950

At the end of the day the cranes settled  near the water’s edge to roost at three different locations and kept flying between the different locations.

Regardless of the accuracy of  the count number, there will be plenty cranes for the morning’s show.

March 15, 2011,  Tuesday


The earlier dozen were joined by 28 more after sunset.  Beautiful evening.

March 14, 2011,  Monday


(A couple of reliable sources confirmed that there were 700 cranes on Thursday evening, so, for the record, I adjusted the report below .)

March 13, 2011, Sunday


That’s right, only 6.  Years ago, Dave Galinat brought to my attention that evenings of big arrivals of cranes are usually not followed the next evening by another big number of Sandhills.  And that has frequently been the case.

March 12, 2011

1,000 (or more) –

I arrived at the reservoir after 6:00 pm (7:00 pm MDT) as a few late arrivals dropped in.  All the birds I saw were north of North road on both sides of the cottonwood trees along the channel.  Many were obscured by vegetation and the rapid loss of daylight.

I’ll see if someone else has a better tonight or fix it if  there’s a better number tomorrow morning.

NOW it’s starting to feel like Spring!

March 11, 2011

Welcome Back!

I have been away for a while, so the Crane Days details, the web site, and this little page reporting crane sightings have been neglected.  – Some times some things go easier than others.

A quick trip to Fruitgrowers Reservoir at sunset revealed no cranes.  March 10 or 11 frequently is the lead date for first Sandhill arrivals.   There have been some cranes seen at the Reservoir in the past ten days – these likely are  some of the 200 +/- cranes that wintered over along the Gunnison River downstream from Delta.  This seems to be typical behavior – the locals flying around to different locations (perhaps it’s some pre-migration exercise or

But a couple of days ago over 300 high flying cranes were spotted over California Mesa that appeared to the spotter that they were moving out of the country.

So let the Cranes begin!

– Jim Durr

March 10, 2011  Thursday

700 Cranes

I found out about this arrival after I wrote the entry for the 11th.  It seems the cranes had begun, which frequently is the case and is again so this year.

PARKING:  PLEASE find a place to park that is off the pavement and PLEASE do not set up your tripods on the pavement!    The Sheriff’s Department join many of us with concern about safety from less than responsible behavior on the county road (drivers and bird watchers) while crane watching is going on.  Thanks.