Posts Tagged ‘migratory birds

03
Apr
16

Timeless rite of spring – sandhill cranes

Last week I was south of the Twin Cities driving the backroads around Vermillion, MN. While the sightings were sparse I did get to hear and see a dozen or so Sandhill Cranes fly over and saw several in a field too far off for a decent photograph. But it reminded me of a trip years ago to the Platte River in Nebraska where the timeless spectacle of the Sandhill Crane migration takes place. What follows are photographs of mine but the text is an excerpt from http://www.nebraskaflyway.com

Each spring, something magical happens in the heart of the Great Plains. More than 80 percent of the world’s population of Sandhill Cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River valley—a critical sliver of threatened habitat in North America’s Central Flyway. Along with them come millions of migrating ducks and geese in the neighboring rainwater basins. The cranes come to rest and refuel for a month as they prepare for the arduous journey to vast breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. They arrive from far-flung wintering grounds in northern Mexico, Texas and New Mexico on an epic journey of thousands of miles.

For centuries they have come to rest and restore themselves. The shallow braided channels of Nebraska’s Platte River provide safe nighttime roost sites. Waste grain in crop fields provides food to build up depleted fat reserves needed for migration. Adjacent wet meadows provide critical nutrients and secluded loafing areas for rest, bathing and courting. During their stop in Nebraska, cranes gain nearly 10 percent of their body weight.

There is no question: The arrival of the cranes on the Platte River—and the millions of other migratory birds that visit each spring—is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent. NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Sandhill crane dawn 3 Platte WEB

Sandhill cranes WEB

Sandhill crane flying Platte WEB

Sandhill flying Platte WEB

Sandhills in flight 3 Platte WEB

Geese in flight 2 Platte WEB

Sandhill crane silhouette WEB

Cranes over Platte River WEB

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