First Crane Sighting Contest
Our annual First Crane Sighting Contest starts in mid-late February as Sandhill Cranes start arriving in the Yampa Valley. The first person to spot a Sandhill Crane in the Yampa Valley and to document their sighting with a photo or video can submit their entry as part of this contest. Prizes are given to the first sighting in West Routt, North Routt, South Routt, Steamboat Springs, Craig, and West Moffat.
2023 First Crane Sighting Contest Results
Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition (CCCC) is pleased to announce the results of the 2023 First Crane Sighting Contest!
This year we received 43 sightings of Sandhill Cranes in the Yampa Valley!
The returning cranes were first reported in Moffat County and then South Routt County. The first crane sighting on March 7 was comparable to previous years.
Even with all the snow the Yampa Valley has received this year, the cranes returned right on schedule. They will seek out areas with exposed soils and melting wetlands to find food while they wait for the snow to melt.
In addition to the Grand Prize (given to the person who spots and documents the very first crane seen in the Yampa Valley), the First Crane Sighting Contest awards a prize to each individual with the photo or video of the earliest sighting in West Routt, North Routt, South Routt, Steamboat Springs, Craig and West Moffat.
Entries with an asterisk (*) indicate that a photo is included in the photo gallery below.
Here is the summary of the 2023 contest winners by zones:
Garrett Grieve. 3/7/23: Report of 5 Cranes in a field in North Moffat County.
Tami Eggers. 3/14/23 at 8:30am. Reported cranes in the field at Creek Ranch.
Jason Musser*. 3/14/23 at 2:30 pm. Reported cranes near Bear River Ranch in Sunbeam.
Annette Zuber*. 3/17/23at 1:00 pm. Reported 3 cranes near Craig Golf Course Rd.
Jayden Salazar. 3/18/23 at 1:15 pm. Reported cranes off of Highway 40 west of the Yampa River State Park.
North Routt: Thomas Reilley. 4/6/23 at 7:05 pm. Reported cranes near CR 54 and 129.
Therese Ronayne & Sara Lustbader. 3/18/23 at 2:37 pm. Reported cranes in Marabou Ranch.
CCCC appreciates ALL the submissions that we received during the course of the contest.
The reports help us learn more about the areas cranes use as they return to the Yampa Valley and about when they are returning every year. This contest helps us with our mission of conserving and protecting Greater Sandhill Cranes and their habitat in Northwest Colorado. While we are unable to post all of the photos and videos that we received, we do want to recognize all those who sent in crane reports during the course of the contest. Listed below are all the other participants in the 2023 First Crane Sighting Contest.
March 15 at 9:00am – Kris Nisbeth reported multiple cranes in Maybell
March 17 at 4:00 pm – Karen Eitel reported cranes near the Yampa Valley Golf Course
March 18 – Adam Cozzens reported cranes along CR 25 Moffat County
March 18 – Cheryl Jensen reported cranes 1 mile west of the Yampa River State Park
March 18 at 12:55 pm – Kendra Kimball reported cranes over the Yampa Valley State Park
March 18 at 1:45 pm – Justin Rehfeld reported cranes flying overhead in North Moffat County
March 18 at 3:00 pm – Brandon Seick* reported 22 cranes in a field along CR 21 in Moffat County
March 18 at 5:40 pm – Ron Murphy* reported cranes 4 miles west of Hayden
March 19 – David Dietrich reported cranes along CR44 by the Elk River in Steamboat Springs
March 19 at 9:10 am – Robin Wahlert* reported cranes along the Yampa River in Craig.
March 19 at 3:23 pm – Toni Raftopoulos reported many cranes in a field along CR 21 in Moffat County
March 19 at 4:56 pm – Lauren Hilley reported cranes at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig
March 19 at 5:15 pm – Joey & Carter Chadwick* reported cranes on Ranney St, in Craig
March 19 at 5:30 pm – Tim Wohlgenant reported cranes on near Elkhead Creek
March 20 in the morning- Nathan Browning reported cranes South of Craig
March 20 at 12:43 pm – Jeff Goncalves reported cranes on CR 21 near HWY 318 in Moffat County
March 20 at 2:30 pm – Landa Raddon reported cranes by the Craig Water Plant
March 20 at 5:30 pm – Adam Rodgers reported cranes along CR 80 in Hayden
March 23 at 12:56 pm – Gabriel Elkinton reported cranes flying above the Hayden Library
March 23 at 3:00 pm – Suzanna Bloom* reported cranes HWY 394 / Water Plant Rd
March 26 at 11:57am – Silas Ebbert reported cranes flying above CR 69 in West Routt
March 27 at 4:31 pm – Bryan and Jennie Dorr* reported cranes along the Yampa River, South of Craig
March 27 at 5:30 pm – Tom and Beth Gilchrist reported cranes along Rammey St in Craig
March 28 at 3:00 pm – Kaby Rogers reported cranes in the City of Craig
March 29 at 10:30 am – Suz Syvertson reported cranes walking near Golf Course Rd in Craig
March 29 at 4:50 pm – Kim Ducklow reported cranes flying over Dry Creek Village in Routt County
March 31 at 5:00 pm – Cassidy Gorham reported cranes outside of Hayden
April 1 – Katie Wackowski reported cranes along CR131 near Catamount and again just outside Oak Creek- 2 separate sightings in one day!
April 2 at 8:30 am – Allen Hischke reported cranes near the airport in Craig
April 2 at 3:00 pm – Jessica Poma reported cranes in a field near Oak Creek
April 2 at 5:43 pm – Lyn Howe reported a crane in West Routt, flying toward Elkhead Resevoir.
April 3 at 9:00 am – Kacey Green reported two cranes in a field in North Moffat County
April 4 at 11:35 am – Steve Hilley reported cranes in Moffat County
Thanks to all of you who sent in your first crane sightings!
We hope to see you at our 12th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival, August 31 – September 3, 2023.