Friday, March 19, 2010

Festival of the Cranes - Colorado Style

You know you are a dedicated birder when . . .

Raptor Ron, the raptor biologist at Hawks Aloft, finds a Ferruginous Hawk pair on territory near the nest they used last year. He shared the good news with all of us. So, despite the fact that we departed the festival early due to yet another winter storm, we still found time to stop by the side of the road to check it out. And, yes! We did see the female hunkered down in the snow. Crazy birders!

Visibility was limited or so they say. It was a longish drive home.
Our volunteers are the best! Sandy Powell worked two full days talking about our small birds and working the merchandise tables. It was a terrific bonding experience as we searched out the finest of Monte Vista's restaurants. Night #1, we hit our favorite: Hunan.
Sharing a hotel room with birds is never dull. Perch lust dominates the room. Our peregrine managed to untie herself and made a beeline for the Ferrug's perch. However, upon arrival, she seemed a little intimidated by the much larger hawk. He, however, just looked worried.
He is a very handsome fellow.
We had time in the afternoons for a little birding in the sun - that is, before the big storm arrived.
We found a pair of red-tails staking out their territory at the south end of the refuge. If you look way up at the mid-point of the tree on the right side, you may see the red-tail speck that was the female.
They packed the Ski High building and we had 4-5 deep at the booth. Here, volunteer, Dibby Olson, holds and talks about our Merlin.
One of the reasons we love the Festival of the Cranes in Monte Vista so much is that they give us such a huge space where our larger birds can sit comfortably atop their travel boxes. It is virtually a stress-free event for them.
The Malueg family knitted and donated piles of stocking hats for our sales table. Here, new staff member Amelia Porter helps out.

Night #2, we had our tummies all geared up for Italian, only that restaurant was no longer there. So, we settled for Ninos, a pretty terrific Mexican restaurant right in downtown. They make a mean margarita.

The other most wonderful thing about this event are all the wonderful people that make us feel so welcome. We all took home bags of Colorado Potatoes from the potato growers association. I even discovered their new cookbook and a variety of potato called fingerlings -- to die for! Oh, and baby back ribs and this amazing sausage with cheese in it. Did I mention that eating is a big part of our adventure? We'll be back in 2011!

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