Sandhill Crane Chicks on Blue Valley Ranch
It certainly pays to have a camera handy when driving around Blue Valley Ranch, as some ranch staff discovered yet again recently on a morning tour past the hay fields above the Blue River.
Sandhill cranes have been seen on Blue Valley Ranch before, and while the birds are regular visitors every year, they typically do not stay long. Getting a good photo of one is often difficult, so most people try to take advantage of any opportunity. However, the hesitancy of this bird to move away very quickly indicated that something else was going on.
A closer inspection revealed that the bird was hiding a chick in the grass nearby.
While cranes have long been known to nest near Steamboat Springs to the north, this may well be one of the first documented nestings of sandhill cranes in Grand County.
Sandhill cranes typically have two chicks (also called colts). Since the oldest of the two is often aggressive towards its younger sibling, the parents will split the two up and each take one chick. It is highly likely that the second chick could have been found with the second parent (visible in the background of the video below), but the birds’ obvious agitation with the current photo session prompted the photographer to leave them alone after few quick snaps.
As the ranch continues its agricultural programs and its stewardship of wetlands, including the creation of new wetlands with its fishery and waterfowl habitat projects, it is hoped that more cranes will find the ranch a suitable nesting place in the future. After all, that was the idea all along.