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Birds of the Western Slope Mar. 8, 2017

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Photo by Bill Schmoker© Sandhill crane

Sandhill Cranes II

And here it is -- March already! And cranes! I can't get enough of them! And they are cooperating. As I gaze out of our dining room window, I know there are cranes at the reservoir. And I am happy!

But I also think about our years here in Delta County. It was back in 1995 that Rod Drewien and Melvin Peterson sat on the front room couch and asked if I would monitor our Greater Sandhill. SURE! It works out that the attempts to place whooping crane eggs into sandhill nests had come to an end. The big white birds had failed to reproduce as hoped, so it was no longer necessary to have a government sponsored person to monitor (Melvin was with the U.S. Forest Service). And so my "official craneiac" career began.

And in my official business, one of my favorite people is Jim Wallace. He lives just down the road and he has counted cranes for several years. At first the two of us just enjoyed the cranes, but a bit later, when we compared numbers, we were quite close in our estimates. Jim counts and in contrast I've always "estimated" the number. Now Jim calls me regularly to report cranes at the basin, and I rely on his count. As a retired U.S. Forest Service person (with over 30 years of service) he has become a craneiac just as I am.

His degree is in wild-life management but much of his career was devoted to timber-management and then later in the avian aspects of firefighting. Much effort was devoted to the use of helicopters and I find this fascinating. He has remarked about the huge difference in the view! Most of Jim's time was spent in Idaho and Montana and I'm truly glad that he and his wife, Dee, chose to live in our area.

Today Jim and I are watching for cranes. If they come from high above, they're likely to be migrating, if they come at a lower level, they're more likely from our wintering flock that collects around the Escalate Wildlife Area north of Delta. But often they don't come from a recognizable point! And we're left to guess, "Where did they did come from?" But of course, all of the mysteries about their origin just makes it more interesting!

Crane hotline is 970-835-8391. Call for information. I will return your call.

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Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn
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