Sandhill Crane Nest Camera
Greater Sandhill Cranes will return to the same general area every year to nest and typically build a nest in the same or similar spot. Nests are simple, mound-like platforms made of marsh plants, grasses and weeds piled on the ground in marshes or wet meadows. Sandhill Cranes in Colorado usually lay two eggs in late April or early May and incubate these eggs for about 30 days. Both crane parents will help in incubating the eggs and caring for the young once they hatch. When the eggs hatch, Sandhill Crane chicks are able to see, are covered in down feathers, and are able to walk within a few hours. After about a day, the chicks will leave the nest with their parents.
Learn more about Sandhill Crane nesting by checking out our Nesting FAQs! Watch our 2021 webinar: Everything You Want to Know About Greater Sandhill Crane Nesting.
Watch the Nest Camera Highlights to see all the excitement in short video clips!
The 4th season of the Crane Nest Camera will launch in April 2024. Stay tuned for more info.
Summary of 2023 Nest Camera Season
This year we focused the Nest Camera on Athena and Rocky, the crane pair that has nested in the area for the past 3 years and that we watched during the 2021 Nest Camera season. This past winter was long and the persistent snow delayed nesting for this pair and many other crane pairs in Colorado. Athena and Rocky laid their first egg on April 23 even though very minimal nest building occurred before this. The second egg was laid a few days later. Athena and Rocky persistently incubated their nest, taking turns, for over 30 days.
There were very few predators seen on the Nest Camera this year that tried to get at the crane nest. This may be in part due to a good placement of the nest in the wetland and the significant snow over the winter that may have suppressed predator numbers.
The week before the eggs hatched, the water level rose in the wetland and caused the cranes to build up their nest with more cattails.
On May 25th, both eggs hatched and Cinnamon and Sage were born! Typically, the eggs hatch on different days, but both eggs hatched on the same day this year. The next day, on May 26th, Athena left the nest with the two chicks.
For the first several weeks, Athena and Rocky stayed in the general area of the nest, spending their days in the surrounding fields. At night, Athena and Rocky mostly came back to their nest to sleep, with Athena brooding their chicks underneath her wings and Rocky sleeping several yards away.
Watch the 2023 Crane Nest Cam Review for a full summary of this nesting season:
You can continue to watch the highlight videos from the Nest Camera.
Other Birds Observed on the Nest Camera
There are many other birds that share habitat with Sandhill Cranes. Here are the other birds we have seen or heard on the Crane Nest Camera:
American crow (heard)
American goldfinch (heard)
Black-capped chickadee (heard)
Common yellow-throat (heard)
Great blue heron
Northern harrier (heard)
Song sparrow (heard)
Wilson’s snipe (heard)
Mammals Observed on the Nest Camera:
There are many mammals that share habitat with Sandhill Cranes. Here are the mammals we have seen or heard on the Crane Nest Camera:
We hope to see you again next spring when we go live again with the Crane Nest Camera!
The live video feed was made possible through grants provided by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the WHILD fund. Internet access for live streaming is provided by Zirkel Wireless. Camera installation and setup were completed by Photon Syndicate. Updated equipment was possible because of generous individual donors. Thank you also to CCCC staff and volunteers for their tech support. Thank you to all our wonderful viewers without which this camera would not exist.