Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Colorado
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Colorado Project

Spring and fall stopover food resources and land use patterns for RMP Sandhill Cranes in the San Luis Valley, CO

September 2018 - December 2023


Participating Agencies

  • DOI-U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Rocky Mountain population (RMP) of greater sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis tabida) and a portion of the Mid-Continent Population (MCP) of cranes use the San Luis Valley (SLV) of Colorado as an important migrational stopover area each spring and fall. Declines in water availability for roosts, and in important food sources such as barley, could have negative impacts on these populations. An assessment of available roost habitat and grain, the use of these habitats by cranes, and the carrying capacity of the SLV for cranes is needed to assess the future of these populations and inform refuge management decisions. This project is a collaboration with USFWS Regions 6 and 2, the Intermountain West Joint Venture, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Colorado Open Lands. Results from the analyses will be used to build a decision model to assist Monte Vista NWR in making water and grain management decisions.

Research Publications Publication Date
Vanausdall, R. A., W. L. Kendall, D. P. Collins, and Q. R. Hays. 2024. Time of year and weather influence departure decisions of sandhill cranes at a primary stopover. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 12:1279279, doi: 10.3389/fevo.2024.1279279. March 2024