2024 Nest camera highlights

2024 Nest camera highlights

Check out these short highlight videos taken from our 2024 Live Nest Camera Season. All of these videos are available on our YouTube Channel: Colorado Cranes.

Crane Family in Beautiful Setting

Melody and Harmony are growing and scampering along to keep up with Ariel and Eric.

Rocky and Adrian vs. Raccoons

Raccoons and cranes engage in a stand-off – cranes win!!

Dance Party

Rocky and Adrian bond by dancing and jumping for joy.

Cameo Appearance by an Otter

Rocky and Adrian are surprised by a brief encounter with an otter.

Early Morning Family Feeding 5/28/24

Ariel and Eric take turns feeding breakfast to the hungry chicks while a loud bird chirps into the camera microphone!

Early Morning Wandering

After the crane family roosted the night of 5/26 near the nest, Aerial leads her 5-day-old chicks on the morning of 5/27 toward their next adventure.

Great Blue Heron

Cranes and Great Blue Herons often forage for food in the same wetlands. Here we see a Great Blue Heron snatch a vole from the same wetland where the cranes nest. After dinner, the Great Blue Heron is either nursing a hurt foot or giving itself a “pedicure”.

Cuddle Time

Rocky and Adrian are in sync! They spend time cuddling, preening, and faux nest building together.

Family Breakfast With Not One, But Two Chicks!

Ariel and Eric actually hatched two chicks! On day 4, chicks Melody and Harmony enjoy trailing along and being fed breakfast by their attentive parents.

Family Breakfast Continues

Breakfast continues despite some interruptions from other cranes calling in the area.

Meet Melody

Eric raises and fluffs his feathers, giving a hint that a chick has hatched and is sheltering beneath him. He then stands, gently probes something in the nest, re-settles, and puffs up his feathers. Melody peeks out once, then twice, oh, so briefly. Ariel meets Melody and takes over parenting duties. Eric is on high alert, chasing off anything that gets too close to his new nestling. Melody is left alone briefly during Erics absence. Melody is barely visible in the grass waiting for dad to return from chasing off an intruder.

Happy Chick Hatching Day!

On May 22, 2024, we get our first peeks at the new chick, Melody! This means that Ariel laid her eggs around April 22, a week later than Rocky and Athena.

Dueling Calls

Off camera, a pair of cranes call loudly. Eric flies into the nest area where Ariel is incubating, and Eric and Ariel respond to the rival pair with their own unison calling.

Great Blue Heron Visits the Wetland and Nest Area

A Great Blue Heron flies over the crane nest, then walks behind the nest and forages.

Another Territorial Dispute

Who is this third pair, engaging in a territorial dispute with Rocky and Adrian? Not Ariel and Eric, who are tending their nest nearby.

Neighborhood Watch

Night after night, Rocky and Adrian return to the same roosting area. They loudly proclaim their ownership of this area to other cranes.

Critters Near the Nest

The diversity of wildlife seen in the wetland where Ariel and Eric are nesting is impressive!

Up-Close View of Rocky and Girlfriend

Rocky and his new girlfriend preen and stretch for the camera.

Dancing in the Dark!

Rocky and his new girlfriend get down.

Rocky and his New Girlfriend Copulate

After a few days of courtship and uncertainty, Rocky and his new girlfriend finally mate.

Territory Defense Sequence with Lots of Cranes!

The nest camera’s wetland becomes a hive of activity on Mother’s Day 2024 as multiple cranes get involved in territorial disputes around Eric and Ariel’s nest.

Muskrat with Crane Calls

The wetland area where Ariel and Eric are nesting hosts muskrats.

Clips of a Territorial Dispute between Rocky and Eric

Selected clips from Rocky and Eric’s prolonged territorial dispute stretching from 5:55 to 8:36 a.m. on May 11, ending with a chase.

Rocky at Dawn

Rocky is calling for Athena and foraging during a spectacular morning sunrise.

Vole Dinner

Rocky devours a vole for his dinner.

Fox Chase

Rocky searches for Athena and encounters a fox.

Fox Crosses Wetland and Skirts Ariel and Eric’s Nest

Rocky and Athena Re-Nesting?

Rocky and Athena return to the wetland area near their old nest and appear to be preparing to nest again.

Daybreak Crane Calls

Ariel calls at daybreak just as the nest camera switches from night to day mode.

Windy Nest Switch

As Ariel and Eric brave the windy conditions and prepare to switch places on the nest, a Red-Winged Blackbird registers its objections.

Deer Visit to the Nesting Cranes’ Wetland

All kinds of creatures make use of the wetland where Ariel and Eric are nesting.

Rocky and Athena Visit Ariel and Eric, our Second Nesting Pair

Rocky and Athena forage in the area where Ariel and Eric are nesting, without incident.

Morning Call from Nest

Ariel awakens with lots of calling!

Second Crane Pair!

The nest camera discovers a second pair of cranes nesting within 200 feet of Rocky and Athena’s abandoned nest. This pair (we have named them Ariel and Eric) give a unison call, switch places on the nest and spend time preening.

Rocky Disposes of the Damaged Egg

Rocky rolls the damaged egg, then removes it from the nest.

Nest Switch following the Coyote Attack

Rocky returns to the nest to switch places with Athena. They unison call to renew their bond. Rocky rolls the damaged egg and sits.

Athena returns after Coyote Attack

Athena returns to the nest, looks around bewildered, and finally sits on the remaining damaged egg.

Destruction of the Eggs by a Coyote

At 2:08 am on May 1, a coyote startles Athena off the nest, eats one egg, makes a hole in the second egg and then abandons the egg near the nest.

Snowy Nest Switch

Despite the snow, Athena faithfully incubates the eggs until relieved by Rocky.

Goose Chased Off

A morning nest switch turns into a wild goose chase.

Crane Calls & Leaves Nest

Athena appears to be upset by the presence of other cranes in her territory. She lowers her head (maybe to conceal herself), calls, stands up, calls more, and finally takes off after three cranes that fly over her nesting area.

Nest Defense Raccoon

Athena alerts as a raccoon skirts the nesting area, but the raccoon wisely keeps on moving.

Night Nest Defense

Athena alerts to approaching, and persistent, nighttime predators (likely, raccoons). Rocky joins her to fight them off. Even the geese get involved! Rocky is much more active this season with night time nest defense.

Quiet Nest Switch

Enjoy this close-up view of Rocky and Athena quietly changing places on the nest.

Noisy Nest Switch

Sometimes Rocky and Athena are noisy when they switch places on the nest!

Goose Fly-By

Our Nest Camera Cranes are neighbors with a pair of Canada Geese who appear to be nesting in the same wetland. In this video we see a couple of close encounters that briefly rattle our incubating crane — but then it’s back to business as usual.

Night Nest Watch

While Athena always incubates at night, Rocky has frequently been seen this year roosting nearby and keeping a watch for predators. Here he appears to have spotted something that requires his intervention, and off he stalks.

Athena and 2 Eggs

Close-up view of Athena preening and rolling the two eggs.

Mallard, Geese, and Cranes

Wetlands provide breeding habitat for geese, pelicans, cormorants, ducks, and more for a total of 82 bird species in Colorado!

Sandhill Crane Pair Teamwork

This highlight video displays the intense teamwork of the crane pair. They build up the nest, preen, incubate, and roll the eggs as part of their daily routine during nesting.

Shift Change

Rocky flies in and unison calling can be heard. They continue to build up the nest and he resumes incubating duties.

Wild Goose Chase Off

Athena defends the nest using her large wings from 2 bold geese. Cranes have 3 strong defense mechanisms: their large wings can deliver powerful blows, their feet have razor sharp nails and their long bill serves as a dagger.

Devoted Nighttime Father

Rocky offers nearby support and protection to Athena and the eggs. He can be seen approximately 20’0 away. The behavior of roosting this close is rarely seen.

Athena Crane Call

Athena apparently sleeping, sits up awake as she hears Rocky calling in the distance. She responds, and in the morning light, you can see her breath vapor rise from her beak as she calls. A beautiful moment!

3 Unison Calls at Nest Switch

Athena enters from right, 3 unison calls before switching shifts. Rocky exits to the left. Athena tends nest and settles in to brood.

Second Egg Laid

At 6:46 am on April 18th, Athena proudly laid the second egg, pushed it over to the first egg, and continued her incubation duties.

Nest Building in the Snow

Shortly after Athena lays her first egg, the weather turns nasty and it starts to snow. This doesn’t stop Athena from working on her nest.

Afternoon Nest Building 4/16/24

After laying the first egg, Athena begins to create a nest to surround the egg.

Egg Laying

Despite significant winds, Athena squats to lay her first egg on April 15 at 2:04 pm. After the egg is laid, Rocky hurries in from the wings to celebrate with Athena!


After chasing off the rival pair, the winners of the territory copulate!

Crouching and Territorial Behavior

Two crane pairs (Rocky and Athena? Wilma and Fred?) compete for the same territory. Both pairs engage in “crouch threats” where they sit on the ground, as though to exclaim “this is my territory and I’m nesting here!”

Sunset Over Crane Nest Camera Territory

As the sun sets over crane terrain, we bid farewell to Ariel, Eric, Melody, Harmony,
Rocky, Athena, Adrian and all the other cranes who appeared on camera during the
2024 Nest Camera season.

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.