Yesterday my husband and I took advantage of a sunny day to drive out to the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska to view the sandhill crane migration. The Platte, a braided river that meanders around sandbars and shifting islands carries snow melt from the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri River. The short stretch near Kearney hosts the annual stopover of these birds. Between mid-March and early April, between 400,000 to 500,000 cranes feed in nearby fields and settle on the river at night. The average wingspan of an adult is between 5.5 to 7.5 feet.
We arrived mid afternoon, found a safe place to park on a county road, and watched the birds. Now and then they spread their long wings to move about but generally seemed content feeding on leftover corn under a warm sun. After an early dinner in town, we drove back to the State Recreation Area and walked out on a pedestrian bridge that spans the river.
Standing on that bridge at sunset is magic. During the day, the birds call softly to each other in the fields but as the sun falls lower in the sky they call more frequently. Before the birds are visible from the bridge, their swelling chorus fill the air. Soon a few lone birds and then small groups begin to fly toward the river. And then ribbons of birds appear overhead, flying up and down the river in search of safe place to rest. They don't land near the bridge because too many of us are standing there with cameras and binoculars. Even so, their ancient music is the beginning of Spring.
Happy Spring, Happy Easter, Happy Passover.
Linking with Kat and the Unravelers.