A Migratory Journer
In general cranes are fairly habitual and predictable. Visitors aware of the cranes’ daily patterns can find good places to observe these birds.
Cranes feed in agricultural fields a half hour after sunrise to mid-morning (approximately 10 am) and again in the late afternoon (3:00 pm) to sunset. In spring most of the cranes forage on the farm fields of the Monte Vista NWR (see maps).
During mid-day (~10 am to 3 pm) cranes can be found primarily wet meadows and grazed pastures on and near Monte Vista NWR where they loaf and occasionally feed on roots, tubers, invertebrates and other food. Cranes will loaf in a variety of habitat types and do not always use areas with water. Mid-day cranes can be seen loafing throughout the Monte Vista refuge (see map). And long the west side of Stanley Road.
At night (sunset to sunrise) cranes use vegetation-free shallow water (less than one foot) to roost. Most roost sites are closed to the public, however, you can still see cranes fly in and out of roosts near sunrise and sunset (see map).
The tour route is open from sunrise to sunset (sunset = when the sun is no longer visible on the horizon). The refuge is strict in enforcing the sunrise to sunset rule because vehicle activity on the auto-tour route can disturb cranes as they are coming in to roost forcing them to find roost sites in the dark which can be hazardous.
Alamosa NWR receives
less crane use than the Monte Vista NWR, however, use is increasing due to
an increased small grain farming efforts east of the refuge. The observation
area on the Bluff Overlook Drive may offer views of loafing cranes during
mid-day and cranes leaving the roost sites in the morning and evening.