2019 Sandhill Crane Watch

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!

On Thursday, April 5th, 2018, Crane Trust counted a photo-corrected 302,300 +/-24,000 Sandhill Cranes in the Central Platte River Valley between Chapman and Overton, Nebraska. On April 9th, they counted a photo corrected 238,100 +/-26,600 Sandhill Cranes.

The 2019 Crane Watch brochure will be available soon!

Visit Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival: March 22-24, 2019

Bringing together hundreds of crane lovers from around the country to Kearney, Nebraska, to interact with a wide range of environmental speakers, take part in incredible birding trips, and, best of all, experience the world’s largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes!

More updates to follow!

Visit our event calendar for more crane season events!

Viewing Locations

1020 V Road, Kearney

44450 Elm Island Rd Gibbon, NE

1020 V Road, Kearney

1020 V Road, Kearney
View the cranes navigating the Platte River with a 300 yard walk half an hour before sunrise or sunset to dark.  Great wildlife viewing during daylight hours along the 1.8 mile trail.  The recreation area also offers seven small lakes, camping, and other wildlife viewing opportunities.   A valid State Park Permit is required per vehicle; check website or call for current prices. More.

All about birds: bird identification, FAQs, articles and more!

Purchase a seat on the Crane Excursion Bus! Each adventure will last between 2 to 3 hours with stops at Rowe Sanctuary, Fort Kearny and other viewing sites.

Sunrise & Sunset Excursions: Thursday – Sunday, March 1 – April 8

Buy your ticket today at adventurebusandcharter.com or call 308-627-8086.

Tickets are $37.50 each.

You don’t want to miss this:

Crane Viewing Etiquette

For your safety, please educate yourself and encourage those around you to practice proper etiquette to make the migration season more enjoyable for wildlife, visitors and local residents:

  • Do not stop on major (paved) roadways, driveways or any other private road or gated entry.
  • Do not stop abruptly if you see a flock of birds from the road.  The person traveling behind you may not be a crane watcher.
  • When viewing birds from a county roadside (gravel road), please pull as far off the road as possible and use your emergency flashers.  Most crane watchers tend to drive these roads slowly, so be mindful of farm machinery and local traffic by pulling over when necessary.
  • Do not attempt to approach the birds.  Use your vehicle as a “blind” and stay in your car or right next to it when setting up tripods for spotting scopes or cameras.
  • Do not attempt to approach birds on their roosts.  One alarm call from a bird can send the entire flock into a panicked flight, using up precious energy reserves and exposing the birds to hazards such as power lines – not to mention ruining the viewing experience of other visitors.
  • It is illegal – and a disturbance to other birdwatchers – to harass cranes and other birds in any manner.
  • Most land in the Platte River valley is private property.  DO NOT TRESPASS!
  • Binoculars and spotting scopes are a real benefits for better viewing of all species of birds.

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

For more interesting facts about Sandhill Cranes, visit Audubon Rowe Sanctuary or the International Crane Foundation website.