Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
More discoveries. NEW: Zeiss Victory SF 32

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Sandhill Cranes, Nebraska

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 12 votes, 4.92 average.
Old Monday 5th April 2004, 00:51   #1
Tero
Retired
 
Tero's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 8,584
Sandhill Cranes, Nebraska

Sandhill Cranes, April 2, 2004

I guess this was my first trip, where birding was the main agenda for a day. I usually just take an hour or two on regular family vacations or scouting week-ends.

You can organize your crane viewing either from the Kearney end or Grand Island end of the section of the Platte River that the birds roost in. After Apr 15 you may not see many birds, but it may still be worth pulling off the Interstate in this area around sunset, to see if there are any. Before sunset, you only need to drive mile up any of the side roads, and you can see them in the corn fields. In some spots you can even see them off the Interstate.

We had a good rate in a motel in Grand Island, so we chose Crane Meadows Nature Center near it for our crane experience. It was $20 per person to go to the blinds, and kids have to be 10 or over. That was 5-8PM and there was also a bridge where you can stand and view. The crowd at this place was gray haired, most of the retirees. Very close by, nearly across the road was a public viewing platform, for free. Some locals on motorcycles were having a beer and waiting for cranes there. Some 5 AM viewing is also available. I think the area has some camping, not sure if near the river.

The other organized blinds and a trolley tour were centered around Kearney, such as at the Rowe Sanctuary.

We got there early and viewed cranes in fields on the way there. Most places they stay some 100m from the road. A few pairs were dancing in the fields. I presume these are the newlywed couples. A few hops should be enough for old pairs?

We had a short lecture and then an escorted drive to the private blind. It was around dinner time, so we had sandwiches and water with us (no rest rooms available near blind). We walked a mile with our gear to the blind. Our kids did not get too bored in the 1.5 hours in the blind, but we had some silenced games for them to play. Some ducks (teals) and a Yellowlegs entertained us while we waited, and a Meadowlark persistently sang, a song that sounds like R2D2 from Star Wars to me. A Killdeer made angry noises in our direction, then went away as the sun was going down.

Cranes were landing at spots further down the river as we peered through holes in the burlap cover of the blind. There were some 20 people in the blind. Three were with Svarovskis and one with a scope, which turned out to be useless in the blind setup. The Svarovskis were the size and shape of my Nikons. I am sure that if we had exchaneged binoculars, we would have seen exactly the same. By the way, there is a huge sports store in Kearney, Cabalas, that had all the optical equipment anybody could want, including Svarovskis. The tiny ones sold for $600. They also have shotguns, but crane shooting is banned in Nebraska, unlike Texas. A few locals raise the issue every so often. Now they claim cranes are polluting waters with feces. A ridiculous claim in farming and cattle country. They resist all aspects of government control, including the Endangered Species Act.

Cranes started landing in groups and I got the feeling I was watching Ohare airport landing strips in use. There were suddenly hundreds, and more kept coming. I took video of cranes landing across the red sun.

On the ground, some were dancing, but not a whole lot. They were picking at something in the water and the sand bars. Some groups of three and four were walking very close to us. I heard juveniles whistling and adult calls, so these seemed to be families. I do not recall seeing any Greater, only the Lesser and possibly the intermediate cranes. In this light, young birds looked much like adults, only slightly smaller. My video camera has a night shot option, but it has no manual focus, and eventually quit focusing. Soon after that we were done. There was no final climax, as in fireworks, though more cranes were landing as we left the blind in a huddled group. Cranes fear individuals. I think a parked car would make a sufficient blind, as long as you park early enough and stay in the car.
__________________
humorblog
http://esabirdsne.blogspot.com/
Last in ABA list: 376 Great Black-backed Gull
Tero is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2005 2006 2007 2018 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Monday 5th April 2004, 01:17   #2
samuel walker
It's OK to be a little blue........
 
samuel walker's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Cleveland Ohio USA
Posts: 1,883
sandhills

[quote=Tero]Sandhill Cranes, April 2, 2004

I guess this was my first trip, where birding was the main agenda for a day. I usually just take an hour or two on regular family vacations or scouting week-ends.

You can organize your crane viewing either from the Kearney end or Grand Island end of the section of the Platte River that the birds roost in. After Apr 15 you may not see many birds, but it may still be worth pulling off the Interstate in this area around sunset, to see if there are any. Before sunset, you only need to drive mile up any of the side roads, and you can see them in the corn fields. In some spots you can even see them off the Interstate.

We had a good rate in a motel in Grand Island, so we chose Crane Meadows Nature Center near it for our crane experience. It was $20 per person to go to the blinds, and kids have to be 10 or over. That was 5-8PM and there was also a bridge where you can stand and view. The crowd at this place was gray haired, most of the retirees. Very close by, nearly across the road was a public viewing platform, for free. Some locals on motorcycles were having a beer and waiting for cranes there. Some 5 AM viewing is also available. I think the area has some camping, not sure if near the river.

The other organized blinds and a trolley tour were centered around Kearney, such as at the Rowe Sanctuary.

We got there early and viewed cranes in fields on the way there. Most places they stay some 100m from the road. A few pairs were dancing in the fields. I presume these are the newlywed couples. A few hops should be enough for old pairs?

We had a short lecture and then an escorted drive to the private blind. It was around dinner time, so we had sandwiches and water with us (no rest rooms available near blind). We walked a mile with our gear to the blind. Our kids did not get too bored in the 1.5 hours in the blind, but we had some silenced games for them to play. Some ducks (teals) and a Yellowlegs entertained us while we waited, and a Meadowlark persistently sang, a song that sounds like R2D2 from Star Wars to me. A Killdeer made angry noises in our direction, then went away as the sun was going down.

Cranes were landing at spots further down the river as we peered through holes in the burlap cover of the blind. There were some 20 people in the blind. Three were with Svarovskis and one with a scope, which turned out to be useless in the blind setup. The Svarovskis were the size and shape of my Nikons. I am sure that if we had exchaneged binoculars, we would have seen exactly the same. By the way, there is a huge sports store in Kearney, Cabalas, that had all the optical equipment anybody could want, including Svarovskis. The tiny ones sold for $600. They also have shotguns, but crane shooting is banned in Nebraska, unlike Texas. A few locals raise the issue every so often. Now they claim cranes are polluting waters with feces. A ridiculous claim in farming and cattle country. They resist all aspects of government control, including the Endangered Species Act.

Cranes started landing in groups and I got the feeling I was watching Ohare airport landing strips in use. There were suddenly hundreds, and more kept coming. I took video of cranes landing across the red sun.

On the ground, some were dancing, but not a whole lot. They were picking at something in the water and the sand bars. Some groups of three and four were walking very close to us. I heard juveniles whistling and adult calls, so these seemed to be families. I do not recall seeing any Greater, only the Lesser and possibly the intermediate cranes. In this light, young birds looked much like adults, only slightly smaller. My video camera has a night shot option, but it has no manual focus, and eventually quit focusing. Soon after that we were done. There was no final climax, as in fireworks, though more cranes were landing as we left the blind in a huddled group. Cranes fear individuals. I think a parked car would make a sufficient blind, as long as you park early enough and stay in the car.[/QUOTE
]Hi Tero sounds like a wonderful trip.I know what you saw,I made a similar trip a few years back to the Jasper/Pulaski park in Indiana for the Fall migration.Stunning sights and sounds.Sandhill migratioin is one of the unique natural wonders in America.
Sam
fellow craniac
__________________
"The conservation movement is a breeding ground of communists and other subversives.We intend to clean them out.Even if it means rounding up every birdwatcher in the country."
John Mitchell
Attorney General
1969-1972
samuel walker is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 5th April 2004, 04:23   #3
lassa8
Registered User
 
lassa8's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Maryland - USA
Posts: 815
That sounds awesome! I wish I had the time (and money) to head over there for a weekend before they take off. Will you be posting any pictures??
lassa8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 5th April 2004, 11:24   #4
Tero
Retired
 
Tero's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 8,584
I actually do have pictures, but we are film, not digiatl pictures, so it will be a few days.

One useful link:
http://www.rowesanctuary.org/

You can call them for the last viewing days.
__________________
humorblog
http://esabirdsne.blogspot.com/
Last in ABA list: 376 Great Black-backed Gull
Tero is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2005 2006 2007 2018 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Monday 5th April 2004, 21:41   #5
Beverlybaynes
Mod Squad

 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: NE Indiana, USA
Posts: 2,961
Tero, it sounds like a wonderful experience. Although I can easily visit Jasper-Pulaski (it's only 125 mi from here), and have done so many times, I would LOVE to visit the Platte some March.

I must agree with Sam -- it's one of the great natural wonders of North America to see this.

I'm told -- and I've never seen this for myself -- that at Jasper-Pulaski, what we usually see in the evening is just the first roost for the night. Apparently, sometime after full dark, all the cranes (and there are usually thousands!) will fly off at once to the final roost, in another nearby marsh. I guess the sounds of the wings and cries is phenomenal!

Someday, I'm gonna stay and wait for that, even if it means driving home in the dark (which I dislike a LOT, especially on older 2-lane highways).
__________________
beverlybaynes

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
--Langston Hughes
Beverlybaynes is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 2006 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 7th April 2004, 23:51   #6
Tero
Retired
 
Tero's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 8,584
Pictures did not come out that well. Wedo not have that good equipment. At the viewing, the sun was going down. I got some video, but do not know how to get stills from it. This gives you some idea. They were scattered like this during the day, but in dense groups at night. Two were dancing here.

http://pix.etusivu.net/new/cranes1.jpg

more detail, can actually identify them as some sort of CRANE here
http://pix.etusivu.net/new/cranes3.jpg
__________________
humorblog
http://esabirdsne.blogspot.com/
Last in ABA list: 376 Great Black-backed Gull

Last edited by Tero : Thursday 8th April 2004 at 01:47.
Tero is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2005 2006 2007 2018 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 8th April 2004, 13:06   #7
Tero
Retired
 
Tero's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 8,584
Cranes in air over Platte river
http://pix.etusivu.net/new/cranes2.jpg

none have landed at this point
__________________
humorblog
http://esabirdsne.blogspot.com/
Last in ABA list: 376 Great Black-backed Gull
Tero is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2005 2006 2007 2018 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 8th April 2004, 13:51   #8
peligirl
Registered User

 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: houston texas
Posts: 39
Tero...that sounds so great, we get a few here at local wl refuges, but not that magnitude...!
peligirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Sandhill Cranes HelenB Birds & Birding 12 Friday 9th January 2004 19:46
Whooping Crane Population Reaches Record High Steve Gross Birds & Birding 3 Saturday 13th December 2003 04:49
Sandhill Cranes near Cleveland, Ohio weather Your Birding Day 3 Saturday 6th December 2003 18:52
Chicago Tribune Article on Sandhill Cranes, 11-16-03 Beverlybaynes Your Birding Day 0 Sunday 16th November 2003 11:52
Sandhill Cranes Sighting! Tammie Birds & Birding 8 Tuesday 30th September 2003 10:52

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.21151805 seconds with 20 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 12:05.