I have learned a lot of new things about the state of Nebraska since moving to Grand Island. One thing that is huge this time of year is the Sandhill crane migration. Honestly, I am not a bird person and probably would not have been able to identify this bird to save my life, but oh my...what a fascinating bird....and guess what? We live along the 80 mile stretch where the sandhill cranes stop on their way northward. If you drive just 5 minutes south of here you will start to see fields full of these cranes. Drive 5 minutes further to get to the Platte River and they are everywhere.
We went on a field trip with a few other local homeschool families to the Rowe Sandhills Crane sanctuary in Gibbon, Nebraska. It is about 40 minutes west of Grand Island. These people take the crane migration pretty seriously. You can even watch a live web cam 24 hours a day!
They keep track of who visits this center...and every year people from all over the world visit. They have had visitors from all 50 states this year, except for Delaware!
You can pay $25.00 per person to come at 6am or 6pm and watch thousands of cranes migrate to this very area. I guess it is a site like none other...and not recommended for kids because of the wait outside in the cold....and the need to be quiet.
Our field trip was free however and we learned so much about this crane.
Some fun facts that I didn't know was that their wing span could be as long as 6 feet!
The crane can weigh up to 30 lbs.
They sleep standing up with one foot up...in cold water...all night long. Brrr!
They are hunted in different states...but not here.
They do not hang out in trees because their back claw can not grip a tree branch like owls.
They migrate to Texas during the winter...they stop here for 3-4 weeks. When they head up North during the summer, they only do so to lay two eggs. Both parents will incubate. If you see a group of 3-4 cranes flying together...it is most likely a mom, dad, and their two kids. So sweet!
As many as 80,000 cranes stop over each night at this sanctuary.
If you are quiet and listen to their sound...it is an awesome thing!
So if you are ever in our neck of the woods during March and early April...you can not miss watching a field of cranes for a few minutes!
Here are a few pictures from our field trip!
Because we were not their during the "prime time" we were only able to see live cranes up close on the side of the road. Bummer!
|Weston trying to spot a crane!|
|The kids were feeling the water of the Platte River to see how cold the water was!|
|Up to 6 feet wide wingspan!|
|Visitors from all over the world!|
|Picture from internet-- source unknown|