RBC I The fourth annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes place in Steamboat Springs and Hayden, Colo., Sept. 10-14, featuring guided crane viewing, talks by crane experts, a live raptor experience, films, children’s and family activities, photography and journaling workshops, and more.
Highlights of the festival include talks given by top crane experts and an intimate gallery gathering with nature photographer John Fielder, featuring his acclaimed images of crane habitat along the Yampa River. HawkQuest will have an educational booth set up for festival attendees to visit with live raptors throughout the weekend.
The festival’s keynote speaker is Paul Tebbel, a crane biologist and former director of the Rowe Sanctuary, presenting “The Private Lives of Sandhill Cranes” on Saturday. He will be joined for talks by Van Graham, the retired Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist who helped to develop Colorado’s Greater Sandhill Crane recovery plan; Birding magazine editor and field guide author Ted Floyd; and The Nature Conservancy conservation biologist Chris Pague, speaking during a community barbecue at the historic Carpenter Ranch.
“The Yampa Valley in early autumn is stunning, and sandhill cranes at any time of year are breathtaking to behold,” said Ted Floyd, who will be leading birding walks and delivering a featured talk during the festival. “I can’t wait to enjoy the beautiful birds, evocative scenery and wonderful human company at this year’s crane festival!”
Additional festival highlights include educational displays, guided bird walks in the Yampa Valley’s magnificent settings, birding by pontoon boat at Stagecoach State Park, a community barbecue at the 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 raptors.
Greater sandhill cranes are an iconic species of the Yampa Valley and Northwest Colorado. For years, a group of bird and nature enthusiasts gathered each fall at a small ranch near Hayden to watch adult and young cranes forage for food, dance in the fields and practice flying in anticipation of their grand migration south to warmer wintering territory.
The sights and sounds of these spectacular birds on their fall staging ground in the Yampa Valley led to dreams about an event for locals and tourists to come together to learn about this population of cranes and celebrate their presence in Northwest Colorado. The Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. turned the dream into a reality.
“It was a great honor and an enormous pleasure in 2012 to participate in the first Yampa Valley Crane Festival,” says International Crane Foundation Co-founder and Senior Conservationist George Archibald. “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. All of this is great fodder for celebration!”
The Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition (CCCC) is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Greater Sandhill Cranes in Colorado. Yampa Valley Crane Festival is presented by the CCCC, with help from partners including the Bud Werner Memorial Library, The Nature Conservancy, Yampa Valley Land Trust, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., The U.S. Forest Service, Yampatika, Steamboat in the Summertime and many other local businesses and organizations.
Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the official lodging partner for the 2015 Yampa Valley Crane Festival and will be donating a percentage of proceeds to the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition. Lodging reservations for the festival can be made at www.wvrsteamboat-cranes.com.
The Yampa Valley Crane Festival’s daily schedule of festival events is posted at www.coloradocranes.org.