The 6th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes place in Steamboat Springs and Hayden, Colorado from August 31 through September 3. The festival celebrates the majestic Greater Sandhill Cranes as they migrate through the Yampa Valley and features guided crane viewings, expert speakers, films, bird art, photo and journaling workshops, live raptors, children’s activities, and more.
The festival’s keynote speaker is George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation. John Azua, Denver Zoo’s Curator of Birds will present a talk on the Denver Zoo’s crane conservation efforts. Additional expert presentations about sandhill cranes include photographers Sandra Noll and Erv Nichols, and Birding magazine editor Ted Floyd.
Sure to be a crowd pleaser, HawkQuest will have an educational booth for festival attendees to visit with live raptors, including a Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Harris Hawk and Barred Owl. The festival also presents a special screening of The Eagle Huntress, a documentary film about a young girl who becomes the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries.
Additional festival highlights include educational displays, guided bird walks in some of the Yampa Valley’s most magnificent settings, birding by pontoon boat on Lake Catamount, a community picnic at The Nature Conservancy’s historic Carpenter Ranch, a ranch tour of a “crane-friendly” agricultural operation, a guided nature hike on the Steamboat Ski Area and a sketch-a-bird session that includes live birds.
Greater Sandhill Cranes are an iconic species of the Yampa Valley and Northwest Colorado. For years a group of enthusiastic birders and nature lovers gathered each fall at a small ranch near Hayden, Colorado to watch the cranes. The sights and sounds of these spectacular birds on their fall staging ground in the Yampa Valley led some to dream about an event in which locals and tourists would gather together to learn about this population of cranes and to celebrate their presence in Northwest Colorado. In 2012, Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. turned the dream into a reality with the inaugural Yampa Valley Crane Festival. Last year’s festival included attendees from 20 different states and 2 countries!
“It was a great honor and an enormous pleasure in 2012 to participate in the first Yampa Valley Crane Festival. By reaching out to the general public and the resulting positive responses from the latter, the crane festival organizers are helping to protect cranes and their habitat. I am thrilled to be returning again in 2017!” says International Crane Foundation Co-founder and Senior Conservationist George Archibald.
The Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition (CCCC) is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Sandhill Cranes in Colorado. Yampa Valley Crane Festival is presented by the CCCC, with help from partners including the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Bud Werner Memorial Library, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and many other local businesses and organizations.
Take a Guided Tour with Bird Conservancy!
Joel Such (right) is a 19-year-old artist, writer, and field researcher who currently works for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, and will be leading guided bird walks during the festival. His intense passion for the avian world was fully ignited by age two. Growing up in the foothills of Colorado’s Front Range, Joel has pursued birds with unwavering devotion and has contributed to a wide range of biological field projects and avian education. These experiences include being a field technician for the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas, a co-founder and leader for Boulder County Audubon Teen Naturalists, and a bird bander for projects in Colorado, Ohio, and Guatemala.