From February to April, more than half a million Sandhill cranes and millions of waterfowl will make their way to central Nebraska as a part of their yearly migration north.
Beginning the first week of March, Audubon Nebraska’s Rowe Sanctuary will open viewing blinds in several locations along the Platte River, where enthusiasts can view the birds in their natural habitat. The cranes roost on the river’s sandbars and gorge themselves in surrounding fields in preparation for flights to nesting grounds as far away as Siberia.
“It’s pretty fascinating, because they seldom hold still,” said Chris Thody, coordinator for Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival in Kearney, Neb. “And the noise they make is awe-inspiring. Imagine tens of thousands of cranes trilling; it’s an incredible sound.”
In addition, starting March 20, when the concentration of birds peaks, the festival will offer three days of special events, including field trips, workshops, and guest speakers. Registration costs $125, and a portion of the proceeds will be used to preserve sandhill crane habitat.
“The preservation of habitat is the utmost reason for this festival,” Ms. Thody said. “Sandhill cranes are one of the oldest bird species, and they have been coming to Nebraska since before the Platte River existed, but preserving this land for them also helps a plethora of other endangered and threatened species, like whooping cranes, interior least terns and piping plovers.”
Those who can’t make the festival can still observe the cranes from their homes, using the online CraneCam.
This CraneCam is very cool. Take a look.!