When it comes to crane viewing you have some options a guided tour or watching from one of the public viewing locations in the area. We highly recommend a guided tour at Rowe Sanctuary There you will be watching from a discovery station strategically placed along the Platte River to provide excellent views of the Sandhill Cranes while they are on their river roost. Tours last approximately two hours and are led by trained guides. This option will get you closer to the cranes and out of the elements. Rowe Sanctuary offers multiple options for guided crane viewing experiences.Learn More
Located just 20 minutes from Kearney, the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary lies right in the heart of a critical spring staging area for migrating Sandhill Cranes. Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary is a non-profit organization set up to conserve the Platte River ecosystems for sandhill cranes and other wildlife through conservation and education. You will need reservations to participate in one of their guided tours but the visitor center is open daily during crane season for indoor viewing, family viewing and a fantastic gift shop.Learn More
The Kearney area has multiple options for public viewing, designated areas are provided for different times of the day. Pull-offs offer opportunities for day-time viewing while cranes are as in the fields, while the Plautz Viewing Platform and Fort Kearny Bridge, spanning the Platte River, offer perfect sunrise and sunset viewing.Learn More
The Platte River Valley
The Platte River Valley is the most important stopover on this migration. The river provides the perfect spot to rest, and the nearby farmlands and wet meadows offer an abundance of food. Without the energy gained along the Platte, cranes might arrive at their breeding grounds in a weakened condition — where food may be limited until the spring growing season begins.
The Platte River region has a variety of habitats that support cranes. The most important is the Platte River itself. The river is very shallow and sandbars dot the channels. It is here the cranes rest at night, gaining protection from predators like coyotes.
When is the best time to come? What should I pack? Where should I go to view the cranes? We want you to have a memorable and educational experience, so we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you get started!Learn More
Not only is your crane experience our top priority, but we also want everyone else to enjoy theirs as well. Make sure to read through more about Crane Viewing Etiquette guidelines for your safety, the safety of others, and the safety of the birds. Feel free to call us at 308-237-3178 for any additional questions. We would love to help you!Learn More
The spring migration population of sandhill cranes in the Central Nebraska Flyway is estimated at 650,000.
Height — 3 to 4 feet
Wingspan — 6 feet
Weight — 8 to 12 pounds
Color — Gray
Migration — 170 to 450 miles/day
Flight Speed — 38 mph
Mating — Begins at age 3 to 4
Eggs — 2 per year
Crane Related Events
When crane season arrives, it brings lots of excitement to our community, and a variety of events to go with. Whatever your sparks your interest, we’ve got you covered. From crane themed art shows, to the Audubon Nebraska’s Crane Festival, and even photography classes and family-focused crane nights, try one or try them all.Learn More
Other Birding Guides
Each spring, something magical happens in the heart of the Great Plains. More than 80 percent of the world’s population of sandhill cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River valley. Along with the cranes, come millions of migrating ducks and geese in the neighboring rainwater basins. Learn more about other birdwatching opppunititees in the area.Learn More