‹‹ Colorado Postcards

Sandhill Cranes Mate for Life

Listen Now
1min 00sec
(Courtesy Dave Jones)
<p>Sandhill cranes migrate near Monte Vista in March 2016.</p>
Sandhill Crane relationships

One of Colorado’s seasonal visitors is one of the oldest bird species in existence. Fossil records show Sandhill Cranes have been around for ten million years.

The big gray birds with crimson caps descend on Colorado wetlands by the thousands on their migration from breeding grounds in Canada, and winter grounds in New Mexico and Arizona. In some Native cultures, sandhill cranes symbolize devotion and faithfulness. Indeed, the birds are monogamous, and pairs recommit to each other in the spring with an elaborate dance ritual that includes their distinctive calls.

Male and female build a nest together, and take turns incubating the eggs. But their partnership doesn’t end there. After the hatch, both parents share in raising the chicks, which helps ensure a successful reproductive outcome. Coloradans flock to Monte Vista each spring, and the Yampa Valley at the end of summer, to observe ancient, graceful and devoted families of Sandhill Cranes.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.