STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Barry Kaplan, board member of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, said the organization’s efforts to install a camera near where two larger sandhill cranes normally nest in northwestern Colorado are paying off this spring.

“We have some things in the film that we have never seen before,” said Kaplan, who was heavily involved with the cameras as a board member and member of the coalition’s education committee. “Nobody has done that before. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to use this type of camera and perform live streaming. “

He said there are plenty of cameras streaming ospreys, hawks and eagles nests, but he said he didn’t see any focused on cranes. He said this camera was starting to capture seldom seen moments almost as soon as the cranes arrived at the point that is on private land in the Yampa Valley.

The plan was to livestream what the camera was recording 24 hours a day, seven days a week to allow the public to log in whenever they wanted to see what was happening on site in real time.

Unfortunately, Kaplan said the livestream had been inconsistent up to this point and the coalition was working diligently to address and fix the issues without disrupting the cranes.

“The camera went live on April 15th, but we’re having problems with it,” said Kaplan. “It went wonderfully for a couple of days and then we had technical difficulties for the last two days and things are going down.”

Kaplan said the coalition tested the site a few weeks before it launched. He said there were some technical problems, but not to this extent.

“We are actually waiting for a part that was supposed to be here on Friday but didn’t arrive,” said Kaplan. “When that part arrives, we have found that we can get to the camera without disturbing the cranes. So we’re going to install this and hope that this fixes the problem. “

Kaplan said the inconsistency of the livestream capability didn’t diminish the value of the camera.

“We plan to broadcast live streams when we can and post video highlights throughout the month,” he said.

You can find these videos on the coalition website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

In fact, almost everything the cranes have done since arriving in the Yampa Valley can be seen through the camera’s lens, which can be rotated and zoomed in or out to get a better picture.

So far, the camera has caught cranes building their nests, laying eggs and parents taking turns incubating the eggs. There is also a video showing the cranes defending the nest from a hungry raccoon.

“We can observe all of these behaviors without having to be in the field all the time, as is normally the case in biology,” said Erin Birtwistle Gelling, the coalition’s program director. “You usually go out there and sit with binoculars and watch things and take notes.”

Gelling, who has a degree in ecology and natural resources and has been studying birds for nearly 14 years, is currently completing her master’s degree with sage-capercaillie. She was hired as program director in January.

The camera was paid for with a $ 4,000 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, Kaplan said

“This camera is great because understanding how often they get up, how often they change locations was really insightful,” said Gelling.

She also noted the support from Circle Wireless and Photon Syndicate.

“All of these partners have been invaluable in making this happen,” added Gelling.