Called Home: Sandhill Cranes and Humans

by Susan Tweit

Driving across the San Luis Valley recently, Richard and I spotted groups of sandhill cranes probing the stubble of harvested fields for seeds and insects. Standing four feet tall, with wide gray wings, long, skinny legs, and necks outstretched, these birds are unmistakable.

They’re also part of this improbable high-desert-and-marsh landscape. Twice a year, some 20,000 sandhill cranes, essentially the entire population that migrates along the Rocky Mountains, descend on the San Luis Valley on their thousand-or-more-mile long migration between nesting grounds as far north as Alberta and wintering habitat as far south as Mexico.

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