Ah springtime. It is the season of flowers, of butterflies, of new growth, and migrating songbirds. It is also the season of nest cams. It seems that during this season, cities, small towns, college campuses, and conservation groups are absolutely alive with camera feeds documenting the big and small moments in the lives of nesting birds. From the comfort of their homes, in almost any corner of the world, bird and nature lovers get to spy on the beautiful, uplifting, and sometimes tragic private lives of wild birds. It is not always a happy experience, but it is always an incredible opportunity.
Fortunately, the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition’s nest cameras have only brought good news thus far this year. The crane nest cam is, according to the Coalition, the only live streamed nest camera of a crane nest in the world. This means that, even more than most nest cams, the Coalition’s feed offers a tremendous one-of-a-kind look at the secret look at the most private aspect of these incredible birds’ lives.
The Sandhill Crane is one of only two native crane species in North America. Of the two, the Whooping Crane is endangered and much less populous, while the Sandhill Crane is relatively widespread. What’s even more impressive is the fact that Sandhill Cranes are one of the only species of crane on the planet to not be considered threatened or endangered. This is in spite of the looming threats of climate change, habitat loss, and human encroachment.
While Sandhill Cranes are not necessarily rare, the opportunity to watch them so intimately is not a common one. For followers of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, though, it is becoming something of a tradition. In 2021, Athena and Rocky, a pair of Sandhill Cranes, hatched and reared a single chick within view of the Coalition’s nest camera. Then, in 2022, the pair returned to their nesting grounds but chose a spot just outside of the camera’s field of view. That year, a second pair of Sandhills, Fred and Wilma, nested in view of the camera instead. Now, the 2023 nest camera returns to Athena and Rocky.
As of right now, Athena and Rocky are nesting in front of the cameras and have laid one egg. Sandhill Cranes typically lay one to three eggs, but two eggs is most common. The egg is expected to hatch sometime around the 22nd of May. For observers, this date represents a front row seat to the first precious moments of the life of one of the United States’ most majestic birds.
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