Sandhill Crane Migration

CONSERVE // Featured // RANCH // Stay // Zapata Ranch

January 29, 2017

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Join us for the 2017 Sandhill Crane photography workshop at Zapata Ranch, March 5-10! More info at zranch.org .


Seeing the cranes fly overhead is one of my first memories of Zapata, before I even called the valley my home. A few months before officially joining the Ranchlands team, I rode out as part of the fall bison roundup. I’d never ridden anywhere like it–incredible snow topped peaks surrounding a diverse landscape of dunes, meadows, fresh water wetlands and creeks came even more alive with the sound of the cranes migrating south above us.  The sight was so spectacular it was enough to make you pull up your horse and tip back your head in order to watch these huge creatures fly by. Their distinctive calls, all trumpeting in unison, alert you to their presence, as loud and unforgettable as their two meter wing span, red foreheads and elegant mating dances.

Each year we get to witness 25,000 of them undertaking their ancient journey north in the spring and again as they head south in the fall. In March it’s common to be horseback on the Medano and stop and watch hundreds of them feeding, dancing and singing, the most obvious sign that spring is on it’s way here in the valley.

– Kate Matheson | @kateloveshorses


Photos by Madeline Jorden (@madelinejorden) and Matthew DeLorme (@mdelormephoto).

Photography by Matthew DeLorme and Madeline Jorden
// Blog by Kate Matheson