Movin' On with Nellie: Sandhill Cranes in Spring. Are we there yet?

Every year I look for Spring and the return of the Sandhill Cranes to the Wild Life Refuge. On CBS Denver, I am seeing the ads for Nebraska Tourism that tout the Sandhill Crane migration. Silently, I chuckle to the tag, “Nebraska is for the birds,” and how the promotion pulls the viewer in to the science of this instinctive relocation in the minds of these four-foot cranes. ( )

Now, for sure, I’m wondering why the tourism board of the Valley and Colorado don’t take advantage of this celebration by placing such stunning visual videos that would drive more interest to our state. (More interest could translate as more money for our Valley.) Second thought, we have a lot of interest in our state because of that four-foot-tall and growing field of marijuana. But touting our feathered friends would be a different focus.

Our presence on the world wide web includes these links:,,,, and  (These links are just a few that anyone can find.)

Along with a slew of professional and novice photographers, I park my sky-blue Chevy at the pull-out viewing stage on the Monte Vista Wild Life Refuge. The birds are having a grand pot-luck lunch on the recently melted snow and crop stubble. Unlike some 1950s era family meals, there IS a lot of talking and calling going on at this fertile table. Some trilling sounds like cuddling sweethearts and other shrilling harkens to arguments and misunderstandings. There are jumping cranes, nibbling cranes, kicking cranes, flapping cranes, flying in formation cranes, falling on landing cranes, strutting cranes, pecking cranes and there are the cranes hopping to different music altogether.

Along Sherman Avenue I have caught glimpses of the red headed cranes stopping next to the highway and I’ve seen them in the expansive fields along 3E in Rio Grande County. They hold congress along Highway 17 fields in Hooper and beyond. Frequently in February and March, evening walkers can hear the sermon of the late comers swooping around the area next to the San Juan Mountains.

This weekend is the Crane Festival in Monte Vista. If you can, take the tours, visit the art expos in the Sky Hi arena. Most of all enjoy nature and science and be ready. Spring is almost here.

—Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]