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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Cranes on the Platte Riverhe trumpeting calls of Sandhill Cranes have echoed across millennia of time, and each spring, they herald the force of northward migration. The sounds of thousands of cranes mingle with geese, ducks, meadowlarks and other species that stop along the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska each March. On the remnant prairies, Sharp-tailed Grouse dance on leks, performing ancient displays and emitting eerie calls that echoed across the Great Plains when endless herds of bison dominated this land. Yes, the birds that fill the valley of the Platte each March and April can take you back to primitive beginnings. Even the towns along Highway 30 from North Platte to Kearney remind you of simpler times in a more rural America.

You can reach the Platte River Valley by flying into Grand Island, where you can search for Bald Eagles, which are common along the river during spring. An attractive event for many birders is the Wings Over the Platte Festival in Grand Island, which is held annually in mid-March to coincide with the peak of Sandhill Crane migration, when one-half million birds may invade the region.

The Rainwater Basin south of Kearney will provide an exciting side trip to witness large flocks of Snow Geese, White-fronted Geese and a diversity of ducks during migration stopovers. Over one million geese and up to five million ducks have been counted during spring aerial census! Please contact the Hall County Visitors Bureau (800) 658-3178 and Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District (308) 236-5015 for more information.

Cranes on the Platte River
During March, up to one-half million Sandhill Cranes migrate to the Platte River Valley, creating one of nature's most exhilarating scenes in America.

View a Bird Checklist for this region:

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