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36th Annual Monte Vista Crane Festival

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Location Monte Vista
Dates March 08, 2019 - March 10, 2019

From 36th Annual Monte Vista Crane Festival Website:

Monte Vista Crane Festival
March 8 - 10, 2019

Ski Hi Event Building
Monte Vista, CO 81144

Every spring, thousands of Sandhill Cranes migrate through Colorado's beautiful San Luis Valley. The community celebrates the crane's return with the Monte Vista Crane Festival every second weekend in March. It's one of the oldest birding festivals in the nation, and the oldest in Colorado.

The San Luis Valley is along the cranes migratory route from their wintering grounds in New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to nesting grounds further north. While cranes are in the valley, they congregate mostly around the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge because staff there works hard throughout the year planting barley and maintaining healthy wetlands so the cranes have plenty of food and safe roosting sites when they arrive. Right before the festival, staff mows down large swaths of barley close to public viewing areas, drawing the birds to feast on the fallen grain and small animals attracted to the seeds (yes, cranes are omnivores!).

The festival offers sunrise and sunset tours that take birders to crane "hotspots," where folks can typically see and hear thousands of cranes. Wildlife experts host the two-hour-long tours, highlighting interesting facts about cranes along the way, like how they mate for life and can fly 300 or more miles in a single day. Crane experts and spotting scopes are stationed at key viewing areas. Tours also offer the possibilities for spotting coyotes, eagles, great-horned owls, hawks, elk, pronghorn and a variety of duck species.

The crane fest includes photography workshops, wildlife lectures, movies, raptor tours and fieldtrips to nearby natural areas such as Great Sand Dunes National Park, Penitente Canyon and Elephant Rocks. There's a daily craft and nature fair featuring talented artists from the Valley and beyond.
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