Warmer weather could be better for Nebraska sandhill cranes

Serge Melki / CC BY 2.0
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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Sandhill crane watchers are getting ready for a new season in central Nebraska after a prolonged cold spell and flooding last year that kept some people from seeing them in person.

Everything is on track this year for the Crane Trust to open as scheduled on March 1, said Chuck Cooper, the group’s president and CEO. As many as half a million sandhill cranes converge on the Platte River in central Nebraska from mid-February through mid-April, according to the Grand Island Independent.

The cranes fly in from their winter grounds in Texas and New Mexico and stop for about a week or more to fatten up on loose corn in the surrounding agricultural fields. During their time here, the cranes roost at night along the Platte River, congregating on sandbars for safety from predators.

Last year’s weather was so cold along the Platte River that the Crane Trust canceled blind tours during the first week of March. And during the crane viewing season, much of central Nebraska was flooded due to warm conditions that quickly melted snow on the frozen ground and and rainfall.