Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Experience One of the Earth’s Greatest Migrations

Every year from late February to early April, over 600,000 Sandhill Cranes migrate on the Platte River valley in order to ‘fuel up’ before resuming their northward migration.

Start planning your trip today!

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Guided Tours

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.

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Rowe Sanctuary

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.

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Public Viewing

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.

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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.

Q&A

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!

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Etiquette

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!

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Fast Facts

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.

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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.

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Crane Watch Brochure

Request your FREE Crane Watch Brochure today and start planning your visit!

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Experience the sights and sounds of the Sandhill Cranes

We can tell you how spectacular the Sandhill Cranes are all day long, but to remain unbiased, hear from people who have experienced the migration for themselves.

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Visitors Guide

Request your FREE Visitors Brochure today and start planning your visit!

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The Sandhill Crane Migration Through Your Eyes

Watched sandhill cranes migrate all day.  Thousands of them.  Turn up the volume.
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Found this cute couple in Genoa City, WI this evening.
Re-post for #nebraskaland2019 
The Sandhill Crane Migration in Central Nebraska from Feb-April every year is one of the most spectacular things you’ll ever see and draws thousands and thousands of people from all over the country and world.
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Cruising Cranes #sandhillcrane #sandhillcranes #sandhillcranesofinstagram #sandhillcranemigration #crane #cranesofinstagram #wadingbirds #wadingbirdsofflorida #birdwatching #birdwatchingphotography #birdphotos #birds #elegantbirds #birdsinflight #birdsinflightphotography #planetbirds #bestbirds #bestbirdshots
The Sand hill crane maybe drab looking yet it is beautiful in its own way. These cranes congregate in the hundreds even thousands at the Bosque del Apache Wildlife refuge every winter to gorge on grains before they head north to breed!! #planetbirds #ig_birds #ig_birds_perfection #ig_birdwatchers #ig_bird_watchers #instabirds #nutsaboutbirds #best_birds_of_ig #bestbirdshots #bestbirdshot #bird_brilliance #best_birds_captures #eyespybirds #best_birds_capture #pocket_birds #birds_photography_offical #birds_lovers_daily #birds_lovers_ #birds_lover_daily #eye_spy_birds #birdfreaks #sandhillcrane #sandhillcranes #sandhillcranemigration #canonusa #birds.nature
Sandhill cranes over the Platte River, it doesn’t get much more Nebraskan than that.

These strange birds are among the oldest birds in the fossil record that are still flying today. A lot has changed over the last 10 million years, but not the Sandhill crane. Imagine these birds flying alongside wooly mammoths and the ancient ancestors of today’s rhinos and camels - all right here in Nebraska.

Today, the Sandhill crane stopover near Kearney, NE. is considered one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife events. Over 75% of the species’ population congregates on a 75 mile stretch of the Platte River every spring, to mate, and to fatten up before flying north to lay their eggs.

This bright blue and green September scene is very different in February and March when the cranes are around (hence the stark white and gray river in the background.) I remember freezing my butt off as a kid waiting for the sun to come up while listening to the dull roar of birdsong. And then, at first light being blown away by tornadoes of cranes and geese dropping out of the sky and fluttering back to Earth.

If you’ve never experienced it, put it on your bucket list. ✅ If you do, negameandparks refurbished old railroad bridges and turned them into incredible footbridges for birdwatching just outside of Kearney, at Fort Kearney State Rec. Area - which made for the perfect spot to paint this crane.
Sandhill Cranes during early morning light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.
December 27, 2018

#bosquedelapachenationalwildliferefuge #bosquedelapache #sandhillcrane #sandhillcranes #sandhillcranesofinstagram #sandhillcranesofnewmexico #sandhillcranemigration #morninglight #goldenlightphotography #silhouette #silhouettephotography #sunrise #sunrise_and_sunsets #bird_lovers #birdphotography #birdsofinstagram #bird_extreme #bird_perfection #nikonbirdsofinstagram #natgeowild #natgeotravel #natgeo #nature #naturephotography #naturelovers #birdlife #abstract #abstractlandscape
Throughout #EarthMonth, we want to stay connected and help bring nature to you. Celebrate by learning more about the incredible Sandhill crane migration happening in Colorado right now! #CreatureFeature
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🎥: laurynwachs
Sandhill Crane.  It’s no secret to those that know me.  I’m a craniac.  Even though I wasn’t able to travel to see their great migration in Nebraska this spring, I’ve been able to spot some of the many breeding pairs of the wonderfully prehistoric-looking Sandhill cranes at the nearby wildlife refuge. Here their usually gray feathers take on a rust color because they preen in the local iron rich mud.  They are masters at keeping their distance from humans with cameras, although these are much less skittish than the cranes in the open fields of Nebraska. It’s estimated that there are up to 50 breeding pairs of Sandhill cranes here and I’m excited for their colts to arrive.
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#sandhillcrane #sandhillcranes #sandhillcranesofinstagram #sherburnenationalwildliferefuge #cranelife #birdsofminnesota #best_bird_shots #best_birds_of_world #bird_freaks #birdsofinstagram #birdphotography #bird_watchers_daily #bird_perfection #bird_captures #nuts_about_birds #1birdshot2k #sandhillcranemigration #craniac #bird_nature #birdnerd #birdnerds #bird_extreme #bestshotz_birds #bestbirdsoftheworld #best_birds_of_ig #
Beautiful Sandhill Crane doing the “need the bathroom” pose. 😂 there are still a few cranes left in Long Point. This time they weren’t so far away so I was able to get some lovely photos. I love the bright patch of red on their heads, but as a redhead myself, I’m a little biased. 😆😍😍 soon the last of these beauties will be gone again, making way for our summer birds to return, and so the cycle continues. .
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Sandhill Cranes hanging out in a grass field during their annual Migration. Every Spring hundreds of thousands of them stop in Central Nebraska, drawing crowds from all over the USA and world.  This image was taken just Southeast of Kearney, NEB.
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#nebraska #visitnebraska #centralnebraska #nebraskalife #onlyinnebraska #nebraskathegoodlife #nebraskaland #sandhillcrane #sandhillcranes #sandhillcranemigration #kearney #kearneynebraska #migration #migratorybirds #birdextreme #bird_extreme #birdwatchingphotography #birds_captures #best_birds_planet #bird_lovers_daily #birdphotos #birdingphotography #birds_of_ig #birdspotting #planetbirds #rowesanctuary #platteriver #ipulledoverforthis #midwest_captures #raw_community_member