Welcome to the City of Albuquerque

Sandhill Cranes

The Annual Open Space Return of the Cranes Celebration and Information about Sandhill Cranes

In Albuquerque in the fall we celebrate one of our most beautiful and cherished seasonal visitors, the Sandhill Crane.

One of the best places for watching the Sandhill Crane is the Open Space Visitor Center, which is located adjacent to farm fields managed by the Open Space Division as wildlife habitat. Since its official opening in 2006, the Visitor Center has become a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, as it allows for unique views of Sandhill Cranes and other bird species, with the spectacular backdrops of the Sandia Mountains and the Cottonwood forests of the Rio Grande.

When:

Nov 16 & 17, 2013

Where

Open Space Visitor Center
6500 Coors Rd. NW
Albuquerque, NM
87120
505-897-8831

What

In Albuquerque in the fall we celebrate one of our most beautiful and cherished seasonal visitors, the Sandhill Crane.

FREE!

Activities include children's crafts and games, viewing scopes, crafts, workshops, and more!

*Activities include:

All programming takes place at the Open Space Visitor Center unless otherwise noted.

ONGOING

Book of Cranes Exhibit

Silk Paintings Exhibit and Sales by Judith Roderick

Waking Up Crane film

Web of Life Foundation

Albuquerque Origami Society

Solar Scopes

Viewing Scopes

SATURDAY

8:00 AM: Bosque Bird Walk, Judy Liddell & Barbara Hussey, authors of Birding Hot Spots in Central New Mexico

9:00 AM:   Tai Chi with the Cranes, Sifu Dug Corpolongo

10:00 AM:  Craneology 101, Jennifer Owen-White, Valle de Oro Refuge Manager

11:00 AM:  Silk Painting Demonstration, Judith Roderick, Artist

11:30 AM:   Tin Punch Workshop, Joshua Willis

12:00 PM:  Stories of Wolves, film by Web of Life Foundation founder, Elke Duerr

1:30 PM:  Love in the Bosque, a musical by Phil Bock

3:00 PM:  Love in the Bosque, a musical by Phil Bock

4:00 PM:  Fly-Out Walk at Los Poblanos Fields, Bill Pentler

 

SUNDAY

7:00 AM:  Fly-In at Los Poblanos Fields, Dave Mehlman, The Nature Conservancy

9:00 AM: Tai Chi with the Cranes at Los Poblanos Fields, Sifu Dug Corpolongo

9:00 AM:  Yoga with the Cranes, $15

10:00 AM:  Crane Management in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, Kristin Madden, Wildlife Biologist, NMGF

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Birds on Display, Wildlife Rescue

11:30 AM: Book of Cranes, exhibit background, poetry reading, and calligraphy cranes

1:00 PM: Birds in the Pueblo World, Dr. Matt Schmader, Archaeologist

2:30 PM: The Two Roses, Bonnie Schmader (flute) & Donese Mayfield (harp)

 

 

*Schedule subject to change

Below you'll find information about the Sandhill Crane, poetry dedicated to this amazing creature, and more. Enjoy!

You may also enjoy a video of Tai Chi with the Cranes, which took place during the Return of the Sandhill Crane Celebration Weekend in November, 2010.

One of the best places for watching the Sandhill Crane is the Open Space Visitor Center, which is located adjacent to an 18 acre farm managed by the Open Space Division for wildlife. Since its official opening in 2006, the Visitor Center has become a haven for wildlife photographers, as it allows for unique views of Sandhill Cranes and other bird species, with the spectacular backdrops of the Sandia Mountains and the Cottonwood forests of the Rio Grande.

Sandhill Crane Facts

  • Scientific Name: Grus canadensis, Order GRUIFORMES - Family GRUIDAE - Subfamily Gruinae
  • The Sandhill Crane could be the world's "oldest bird." In Nebraska, a crane fossil estimated to be about 10 million years old was found to have the identical structure as the modern Sandhill crane.
  • According to Cornell University, the Sandhill Crane begins breeding when it is between two to seven years old.
  • Mated pairs of cranes stay together throughout the year. They migrate south as a family unit with their offspring.
  • The average life span of a Sandhill Crane is 20 years.
  • An adult crane can measure up to four feet tall!
  • Sandhill cranes enjoy a variety of habitat including grasslands, meadows, and wetlands.
  • Their breeding range includes Alaska, Canada, and western Quebec, and into the northern and western United States.
  • Some Sandhill Crane populations can be found as far as Siberia.
  • There are resident populations in southern Florida and Cuba.
  • Sandhill Cranes winter in the United States and northern Mexico.

Check out this excellent website provided by Cornell UniversityLeaving www.cabq.gov, click for disclaimer for more facts about the Sandhill Crane. On their site you can even listen to their call and hear what they sound like!

The Nature ConservancyLeaving www.cabq.gov, click for disclaimer also has an excellent website devoted to the Sandhill Crane.

The Governance of a Season, Thoughts on the Sandhill Crane

by Joshua Willis, Open Space Visitor Coordinator

The success of an omnivore is measured in oneness with the present. Serenity produced by soft and deliberate footsteps reveals abundance within our chosen resting places. To live adroit and unencumbered is our desired path on earthen soil and above it. That path will lead us south soon. Days pass. The aperture of warmth and light has come and gone in our summer home, so too have the many blessings of abundance grown scarce. We listen to and feel the season’s messages for our bodies are shaped by them. Eons of ancestral migration have carved our wings, our patterns, and presence into the banks and slopes of this river, embedded in clay and sand lay our deliberate footprints. Tethered golden leaves sigh, a chill whispers across the glassy surface of the river. Our direction is clearly marked by gravity’s tow. It is time to go…

Cool weather has crept into our socks chilling our toes and inspiring warm drink and flannel sheets once again. The onset of golden yellows, rusty reds, earthen browns and contrasting blues and grays ignite transition in our lives as the season moves into winter. Suddenly you hear it. It bubbles up from somewhere…. you look around; the sound is at times clear, at times muffled. It finally occurs to you to look upward into the vivid blue of the sky. There in perfect formation is a squadron of birds soaring high above. Their general direction is south. They too have been touched by the chill of the cool month and are in search of a hardy supply of food. They have come back to accompany us for the winter months.

At least that is how we feel here at the Open Space Visitor Center (OSVC). In preparation for the return of the Sandhill crane we have grown many acres of sorghum and alfalfa for our omnivorous friends. The Rio Grande Valley has been and continues to be the ancestral winter home of the Sandhill crane (Grus Canadensis) and Whooping crane (Grus Americana).

A Miocene crane fossil, thought to be roughly ten million years old, was found in the Midwest. The fossil is the spitting image of our modern Sandhill crane and denotes the crane as the oldest known bird species. Cranes have followed their ancestral flyways for all these years and, like the Midwest, the Southwest has its ancient flyways. The Rio Grande, not known for its deep waters or wide channel, is known for the distance it travels in order to finally reach the ocean. Gaining most of its grandness at the Southern border between New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, the river serves as a guide way and safety corridor for our friends in the Grus family.

These cranes have established important rest stops and winter homes within the Rio Grande Valley. However, their habitat is susceptible to change. Oxbows, riparian areas and savannas within the valley are swallowed up by development and many other disturbances. These traditional safe havens for the birds are replaced by harvestable crop land and parking lots. It only makes sense to offer these ancient travelers an alternative for safety and security. Places such as the Bosque del Apache, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Candelaria Farm, and Open Space Visitor Center are identified places of refuge for such birds. Each sanctuary grow a percentage or wildlife crop which these birds feed on throughout the winter.

This morning I witnessed from the window of my office the familiar slow descent of three Sandhills in our sorghum fields….the first of many guests to come. These animals are charming to watch as they posture and dance asserting their dominance or simply play in courtship. They keep close tabs at an onlooker’s distance: people, coyotes, foxes, and cats all fall within a “dangerous” category for the crane. Humans may come no closer than 40-50 feet. So if you would like to view these animals it is wise to bring binoculars. Here at the OSVC we welcome those who desire to see these birds in mass. Additionally, because the OSVC is located in Albuquerque, we offer great viewing opportunities of these birds for local folks who don’t want to travel very far.

The Open Space Division invites all interested parties to come and enjoy the return of the cranes with us here at the Visitor Center. We offer many experiences including an art gallery, a collection of permanent and temporary exhibits, Bosque walks, volunteer opportunities and of course wildlife viewing.

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