The cranes are returning

Courier file photo Sandhill cranes have been sighted throughout the Valley. Each year, the cranes return to the Valley. This photo was taken in March of 2023 at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.

SAN LUIS VALLEY — Sandhill cranes have been sighted throughout the Valley. Local field ornithologist John Rawinski has received numerous sightings including a report on

Feb. 8, of 25 near Blanca. The person reporting the sighting said he has heard the birds for about the last two weeks, and this was his first visual sighting.

Another sighting reported seeing an unknown number south of Alamosa several days ago.

Rawinski said he too has seen the cranes while hiking on the Alamosa Riparian Trail,

"11 birds were reentering the stratosphere, from way, way up."

Each year, the cranes and other migratory birds visit the Valley after wintering at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

The Monte Vista Crane Festival is scheduled for March 8-10 and offers tours, classes

and other festivities. There will be a raptor tour, an archaeology tour, artist talks and tours of wildlife refuges and other activities. The festival is more than a celebration of

bird migration, it is an educational experience dedicated to the conservation of natural lands, wetlands, and watersheds.

For more information, visit


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