2020 FIRST CRANE SIGHTING CONTEST
Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition (CCCC) is pleased to announce the results of the 2020 First Crane Sighting Contest.
Despite the coronavirus restrictions that were put in place for humans, the cranes returned right on schedule. We received almost 50 reports of crane sightings during the course of the contest from all over the Yampa Valley.
The returning cranes clearly preferred the northwest areas of Routt and Moffat counties. The first crane sighting was reported on March 2nd by Kris Brannan near Maybell, but it took three more weeks and more than 20 reports later before the cranes were spotted in Steamboat Springs (3/23/20 by Daryll Southwick) and in the South Routt area (3/26/20 by Holly Harker).
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 of the 2020 First Crane Sighting Contest at the bottom of this article.
Here is the summary of the 2020 contest winners by zones and dates:
- Grand Prize:
Kris Brannan*- on 3/02/2020 at 8:30 a.m. on a ranch near Maybell
Cindy Chotvacs- on 3/06/2020 at 6:15 p.m. on Highway 318 north of Maybell
Annette Zuber* – on 3/09/20 in the morning on the way to Loudy-Simpson Park by the big barn
- West Routt:
Johnathan Lambert- on 3/09/2020 at 6 p.m. on Hwy. 40 just west of Hayden
- North Routt:
Sharon Ashburn – on 3/14/2020 at 5:30 p.m. 2 miles south of Hahns Peak
- Steamboat Springs:
Daryll Southwick – on 3/23/2020 at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of Hwy. 40 and 131
- South Routt:
Holly Harker*- on 3/26/2020 at 9:49 a.m. on CR 18 near Lake Catamount
CCCC appreciates ALL the submissions that we received during the course of the contest. The reports help us learn more about the cranes’ migration patterns and help us in our mission of conserving and protecting 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 First Crane Sighting Contest.
March 8: Andy Chotvacs spotted cranes on CR 63 / CR4.
March 11: Several sightings were reported:
- Mike Swaro reported cranes in South Moffat, just north of Perch Pond in Axial Basin.
- Shara Cole saw cranes at 9 AM on HWY 40 in Routt County.
- Karen McNish saw cranes at 3:55 PM just South of Craig.
- Mike Vidor* spotted the cranes in the late afternoon (5:35 PM) on HWY 40.
March 12: Sandra Kruczek sent photos of the cranes by the Seely Ranch on Ranney Street in Craig.
March 15 was a busy day for reports:
- Holly Harker* sent in two reports from different areas. Diane Miller photographed her cranes at Pilot’s Knob.
- Anita Merrigan*, Marita Fiedler, Jim Asher and Jason Worrell* all reported sightings on this day in the West Routt County area.
March 16: Brandy Erholtz and Conner O’Reilly spotted cranes in the Hayden area.
Four crane sightings were reported on March 17:
- Colleen Whiteman*, Chris Miller, and Christa Kline sent in photos from Hayden.
- Allen Hischke spotted cranes across the Yampa River from the Craig airport.
March 18: Bob Strong* reported cranes east of Craig. Jim McGee and Mary O’Brien sent photos of cranes from just outside of Hayden.
March 20: Mark Stanczak and Jeni Holloway reported crane sightings in the areas around Hayden.
March 21: Janet Bradley and Bryanna McFadden sent documentation of their sightings from Craig. Sue Hansen* saw cranes on RCR 78.
March 22: Joan Heimbach* spotted cranes east of Hayden. Sally Wackowski and Dave Sladek reported cranes on the corner of Hwy. 40 and CR 42.
March 23: Nick Sharp reported a single crane at RCR 44.
March 25: Jerry/Michelle Padilla* photographed a crane on Hwy. 131. Robert Baker/Cindy Balin saw cranes on River Road in Steamboat.
March 26: Audrey Bortz* reported a crane pair near Clark. Vance Halvorson found cranes near RCR129, 5 miles north of Hwy. 40.
March 28: Jenna Keller saw cranes at Cullens Corner. Mona Gibson spotted cranes on CR 54. Katherine George reported seeing cranes on CR 42.
Two more sightings were reported on 3/30/20:
Toni Cesolini spotted cranes at Chuck Lewis SWA. Lynn Halliday saw them flying over her house near Cow Creek.
The last report of this year’s contest came on 3/31 from Adam Fernley in the South Valley.
Thanks to all of you who sent in your first crane sightings! We hope to see you at our 9th Annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival September 3-6, 2020.