Sandhills on the Platte | Evening Flight Each evening the Sandhills come back to the Platte River to roost for the night. They tend to come back in small groups so the experience tends to be less dramatic than the morning. To see the entire story with all seven images, go to Sandhills on the Platte | a 7 Image Story.
Sandhills on the Platte | Shadow Portrait Getting a nice portrait of a Sandhill has proven to be a challenge. Even with a long telephoto, it’s difficult to get close enough without scaring the bird. To see the entire story with all seven images, go to Sandhills on the Platte | a 7 Image Story.
Sandhills on the Platte | Beautiful Crane Seldom do I get close enough to capture an image with so much detail. This image is one of the closest and clearest Sandhill Crane I have ever captured. To see the entire story with all seven images, go to Sandhills on the Platte | a 7 Image Story.
Sandhills on the Platte | Morning Flight In the early morning, the Sandhills lift off the river to eat in nearby fields. They take flight in groups of hundreds; even thousands, even 10,000s, at one time. To see the entire story with all seven images, go to Sandhills on the Platte | a 7 Image Story.
Sandhills on the Platte | a 7 Image Story Every year from mid February to the first week of April, most of the planet’s Sandhill Cranes converge along 75-mile stretch of the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska. The gathering represents the closest thing to the Serengeti we have in the lower 48. It’s one of the world’s top three great wildlife migrations. More than 500,00 Sandhills stop on the Platte to rest and gain weight on their flight from southern USA and Mexico to Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, where the have their young.
If you have never been to this Great Sandhill Crane Migration, it’s worth the trip at least once in your life. Each day, it starts at o’dark thirty along the bends in the Platte River. At first light, the Sandhills begin to lift off the river to eat in nearby corn fields. They take flight in groups of hundreds; even thousands, even 10,000s, at one time. A little sun, a little fog, and a few hundred thousand Sandhill Cranes make for a beautiful sunrise on the Platte River. During the day, the cranes eat grain left over from last fall’s crop, mostly corn, in nearby fields. Then, in late afternoon and early evening, they come back to the river in great flocks to roost overnight on the river. The Platte River in this area is shallow and filled with sand bars. The cranes safely roost on the river since they can hear their predators, like coyotes, coming through the water. Being very smart birds, they actually post sentries to take turns staying awake during the night to warn the flock, if a predator comes their way.
Sandhill Cranes are among the world’s oldest species. They mate for life and return to the same place each year to have their young. They live in freshwater and eat a large variety of foods including plants, grains, mice, snakes, insects, or worms. Sandhills usually nest in wetlands. Females lay two eggs while both parents incubate. Males also defend the nest. Sandhills love to sing and dance; leap high in the air. The birds are naturally gray with their heads topped with a crimson crown. Sometimes, they preen themselves by adding a brown mud to their feathers. For more information on Sandhill Cranes and their great migration, see the Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary.
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Where is the Private Beach? This Great Blue Heron might think it’s quite of the humans to make a private beach just for him.
Sandhill Crane on Center Island Sandhills seem to adapt well to their environment. They are very smart birds. A nesting pair was standing along the road as I went by. They waited for the traffic to clear, then crossed two lanes of a four lane highway to the center island. This image was captured after I made a U-turn and headed back. They were in no hurry to cross the other two lanes and seemed quite at ease with cars passing by.
Sandhill Crane Every os often on my walkabouts, I’ll see a Sandhill Crane. Every year a nesting pair comes back to a small lake along my walkabout path. Still, they stay pretty much in a secluded part of the lake so sightings are rare. In this image, the light is pretty hard since it was captured midday. Still nice to see them make their home nearby.