South America

Denver Zoo's John Azua: The Lost Continent for Cranes

Sunday, September 1, 2019 - 12:15pm to 1:15pm
  • Library Hall
Denver Zoo Curator of Birds presents “South America: The Lost Continent for Cranes," plus info about Denver Zoo’s Junin Lake Waterbird Project

The cranes have sister species such as rails and limpkin that inhabit South America biomes and have found niches that could have opportunistically been exploited and used by various crane species. In particular, Sandhill Cranes have adapted well to a changing environment that is influenced by agriculture and range management, such as in the Yampa Valley. Why are they not in Central or South America? In addition to pondering that mystery, Azua will discuss the beginnings of a waterbird research study that the Denver Zoo is undertaking with the endangered Junin rail, and various factors influencing their population and existence in a high Andean riparian ecosystem.

About the speaker

John Azua

John Azua has been the Curator of Birds at the Denver Zoological Gardens for over 18 years and works with a great staff managing and caring for 120 species and 499 birds. He currently is the Hamerkop Species Survival Plan coordinator and studbook keeper and Hooded crane studbook keeper. He also serves on the management committee of the Andean Condor Species Survival Plan, Gruiiformes Taxon Advisory Group, Coraciiformes Taxon Advisory Group and Buceros Species Survival Plan. He worked previously at the San Diego Zoo’s Bird Department and Avian Propagation Center for 7.5 years and the San Diego Zoo’s Safari (Wild Animal) Park for 5.5 years. During his career he has been fortunate to participate in several conservation recovery programs or field research projects, involved with such species as, San Clemente Island Loggerhead Shrike, Ultramarine lory, Lilac-crowned amazon, Cinereous vulture, Lesser kestrel and other Asian raptors.

About the Yampa Valley Crane Festival

The Greater Sandhill Crane is an iconic species of the Yampa Valley. Returning in the spring, cranes nest and raise their young in wetland areas throughout the valley. In late summer and early fall, hundreds of cranes from the Rocky Mountain flock join the local birds to rest and feed before continuing their journey south. The festival includes daily crane viewings, expert speakers, films, art exhibits, workshops, family activities and more. All community activities and events are free unless otherwise indicated in the program, and Bud Werner Memorial Library is festival headquarters and the venue for many of these talks, films and events.

Learn more about the Yampa Valley Crane Festival at