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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Steamboat’s Sandhill Cranes

June 23rd, 2012 · 6 Comments

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Sandhill cranes were abundant around Steamboat Springs when I visited there earlier this month. But the best viewing was along U.S. Route 40 just a quarter mile south of the motel where I stayed in town.

My friend Marveen was driving us back from a couple of Colorado’s State Wildlife Areas when she spotted a Sandhill Crane just a few feet from the highway.

A Sandhill Crane near Steamboat Springs

A Sandhill Crane near Steamboat Springs

Click on the picture above to enlarge

While we of course stopped and jumped out of the car immediately, many cars passed us by as we enjoyed the view, and not one stopped. People are just too blasé!

Sanhill Cranes are worth traveling miles to see. I went almost 600 miles to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in December to see them on a tour with Russ Burden, the great photographer and teacher. And here they were on the outskirts of the resort town in northwest Colorado, and nobody but us cared!

Sandhill Cranes are special. “Some evidence points to cranes as the oldest known bird species surviving on Earth,” the Nature Conservancy says. “A crane fossil found in Nebraska, estimated to be about 10 million years old, is identical in structure to the modern sandhill crane.”

The biggest reward that Marveen and I won by stopping and watching this crane was to see that she was a mother — and that she had a chick with her. This was the first Sandhill Crane chick that I have ever seen.

Mother Crane and Chick

Mother Crane and Chick

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Just then, we got a further bonus for stopping at the side of the highway.

A Muskrat Swims By

A Muskrat Swims By

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I don’t know if the greenery that this semi-aquatic rodent carries was food or nesting material, but it looked to me like good camouflage.

Sometimes to best places to look for wildlife are the easiest.


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Posted in: Photography

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Janferie Barnwell // Jun 28, 2012 at 6:04 am

    I have been reading your page since your name was Rick. Quite a long time now, I think.
    I had just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and whatever I had been advised to do bore no relationship to what you were advising.So I ignored the advice given by the “diabetes nurse”, eg to eat carbohydrates, and went my own way. Actually, your way.
    A few years later, my doctor told me I
    no longer had diabetes.

  • 2 David Mendosa // Jun 28, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Dear Janferie,

    You are certainly a loyal reader! I legally changed my name from Richard (nickname Rick) to David eight years ago, and had used David for about a year before that. So I think that it’s absolutely appropriate that you reversed your diabetes!



  • 3 Mary Soper // Jun 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Those Sanchill Cranes are beautiful.
    they seem to likd both Michigan Peninsulas.
    I love that shot with the mother and baby. One does not see that very much. I would love to see the adult mating dance of spitting mud at one another. that must be something.
    Thanks for the gareat photography.

    ….Mary Soper

  • 4 Roni Crincoli // Jul 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    David, I live in Florida and we have a Couple, (male and female) of Sandhill Cranes that visit us many times a day. They’ve been coming for about 3 years now, and we feed them, corn and bird seed. We love them and would stop anywhere to see more……

  • 5 afox // Aug 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

    “While we of course stopped and jumped out of the car immediately, many cars passed us by as we enjoyed the view, and not one stopped. People are just too blasé!”

    maybe they were on their way to “work”.

  • 6 David Mendosa // Aug 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Dear Andrew,

    Yes, sadly, for some people work takes priority over the beauty of nature.