Monday, April 6, 2009

Sandhill Cranes on the Platte

Who needs white sand beaches, sunshine, margaritas and waiters tending to your every need.

Spring Break to me means a trip to Nebraska for the Sandhill Crane migration. It's also a great excuse to visit my parents in Grand Island.

I know what you're thinking...Cancun vs. Nebraska. Hmmm. That Prairie Clover must be daft!

The Sandhill Crane is a most amazing bird and the annual migration event is something every bird enthusiast should witness at least once. In fact, if there was a list of the 7 wonders of the (bird) world, this would be listed on it.

The Sandhill Crane, Grus Canadensis is a fairly large wading bird. Its height, 3-4 feet with a wingspan of 6 feet. Color is gray with some rusty colored areas and has a bright red patch on its forehead. This bird typically lays 2 eggs per year though only one chick usually survives. They mate for life and love to dance. Isn't that romantic?

Can you see them dance? Look closely. You may need to get a magnifying glass...

Migration time occurs during the month of March in Nebraska. These birds spend the winter months in the southern United States and northern Mexico probably enjoying the sunshine, beaches and the margaritas I previously mentioned in my post. When  the season changes and it's time to migrate, they make their yearly trek to Canada, Alaska and even as far as Siberia. The migration pathway resembles an hourglass shape with the skinniest area being that stop-over spot on the Platte River in central Nebraska. As many as 650,000 birds pass through an area of 20-30 miles wide from Grand Island, NE to Kearney, NE.

Imagine watching thousands of Sandhill Cranes gather on the Platte River . It truly is amazing.

Oh, I almost forgot...When out and about scouting for birds, my Mom and I happened upon this skunk. Get out your magnifying glass again! Look in center of the picture.

Have a great day!
Prairie Clover 

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