Migration

The Rocky Mountain Sandhill Crane is of the subspecies the Greater Sandhill (Grus canadensis tabida) and is a group of about 25,000 cranes that essentially have made their migration along the Rocky Mountains for thousands of years.

The cranes spend their winter at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico and then make their way north (850 miles) for the summer to Grays Lake National Wildlife refuge in southeastern Idaho.

Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the largest nesting population of greater Sandhill Cranes in the world. Nesting area for Canada geese and a variety of diving and dabbling ducks. Endangered Whooping Crane flock being established. Whooping crane eggs from other locations are transplanted to the nests of Sandhill Cranes, who then hatch and raise the chicks as their own young. The young whooping cranes join the Sandhill Crane flocks in migration to New Mexico wintering grounds. Some return to Grays Lake the following spring. Habitat: 18,330 acres of high mountain marsh at the foot of Caribou Mountain.

(http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/grays-lake-national-wildlife-refuge-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid9038.html)

 

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Bosque del Apache is Spanish for “woods of the Apache,” and is rooted in the time when the Spanish observed Apaches routinely camped in the riverside forest. Since then the name has come to mean one of the most spectacular National Wildlife Refuges in North America. Here, tens of thousands of birds–including Sandhill Cranes, Arctic geese, and many kinds of ducks–gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Feeding snow geese erupt in explosions of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote, and at dusk, flight after flight of geese and cranes return to roost in the marshes. The Refuge is 57,331 acres located along the Rio Grande near Socorro, New Mexico. The heart of the Refuge is about 12,900 acres of moist bottomlands–3,800 acres are active floodplain of the Rio Grande and 9,100 acres are areas where water is diverted to create extensive wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests.

(http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/bosque/about.html)

One of the longer stays between Bosque and Grays, the Sandhill Cranes  migrated through the fertile San Luis Valley and nearby Rio Grande River populating the farmlands and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge from late February through March.

Then on to a few  “overnight stops” in Colorado and Utah on the way to their nesting grounds in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.