We had a wonderful adventure yesterday. We drove westward from Omaha to the Nebraska Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center near Kearney (since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll say that it rhymes with “blarney” rather than give you a phonetic pronunciation).
There we walked on a path that leads from the back of the Center out to a footbridge across the Platte River to see if we could see any Sand Hill Cranes (Grus Canadensis).
Each year, between late February and early April, some half-million of these magnificent birds pass through central Nebraska as they migrate between summer nesting grounds in the north and winter feeding grounds in the south.
This number comprises an estimated 80% of the entire world population.
We had only a little less than an hour outside and spent the majority of that time, um, craning our necks to try to pick out any movement in the sky and finally had some luck, when (only) one family group of fewer than a dozen birds flew over us.
They were too far away for me to be able to capture any great detail with my 70-300 mm zoom lens but close enough to provide a good idea of their grace and beauty in flight.
We are considering another visit in the very near future to spend considerably more time, possibly in a blind. If we do, I’ll be sure to report.
Please click on one of the images if you’d like to see it at higher resolution.
Wonderful birds and so majestic with that wing span.
They really are magnificent in flight; their wingspan can reach six feet!
fantastic… love that they are so in symmetry
They are especially lovely when their wing movements are in sync with each other in a group. I’ve seen the same thing with Canada geese and pelicans. Thanks, Helen!
Watching these birds fly is so amazing, watching them fly in formation is more special.
In really large numbers they are quite overwhelming. Personally, I rather prefer watching the seemingly-choreographed flights of the smaller groups.
I envy your proximity to the flyway of these wonders. I have never seen one much less a formation like these. Good luck in a blind next time.
When our younger daughter was in high school here I was privileged to go along on an overnight class trip that included sunrise in a blind. I will never forget the awe of seeing many thousands at one time. The light was very low and I wasn’t prepared photographically, but I’ll try not to make that mistake again.
Gorgeous shots of these graceful birds. :)
Thanks, Sylvia, I was quite fortunate that this one group came within range, though I wish they had come a lot closer!
This post reminds me of the television documentary about Nebraska’s sandhill cranes that I watched last year. You’re fortunate to be able to see them without having to travel very far. (Nebraska is one of the four states I’ve never been to, but someday I’ll have to cross it off the list.)
Your third and fourth photos (the second and third of the cranes) made me think of old-time airplanes.
I hope you can make it here during crane season within the next few years. I’d love to meet up with you and arrange a session in a blind at sunrise or sunset.