Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sandhill Cranes Along the Platte River

For the past few years, for one reason or another, I have not had the opportunity to view the Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River during their annual migration. This area attracts between 600,000 to 800,000 very noisy birds.

Prior to my trip to Orlando and the IAFA convention, I made reservations at the Rowe Sanctuary

not far from Kearney to view the cranes. But at IAFA, during one of the lunches, I enjoyed the company of Terry Bisson, an SF author I have admired for years as mentioned in the previous post.

A fan of Nebraska writer Mari Sandoz, as matters turned out, Terry and his wife, Judy, planned to attend the annual Sandoz gathering in Chadron. They did get to visit the High Plains Heritage Center but missed the conference because of a nasty storm in Valentine.

I am sorry that Terry could not meet my colleague Dr. Dan Holtz, for the two would have enjoyed some excellent conversations about Sandoz and other Nebraska writers.

At any rate, over the discussion at lunch, Terry determined to join me to view the Sandhill Cranes at Rowe Sanctuary.

And so after Matt Mason's reading and some vote counting for a Student Senate election, I jumped in the car and enjoyed a three-hour drive to the sanctuary, watching the cranes in the fields as I motored along Interstate 80.

Terry, Judy, and I ventured into one of the blinds, and I worried lest the cranes decided to settle elsewhere. But they did not disappoint--thousands filled the air and our ears, numbers and noise.

As the preceding photograph and others I posted underscore, the birds literally fill the sky.

The Sand Hill cranes remain in the area through the first week in April--and you will not find much better entertainment for $25.00 than what a couple hours in one of the blinds offers at this special time of the year along the Platte River.

I posted a film version of the fun on You Tube.

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