Watching for the Sandhill cranes

Gibbon, Neb. It's an exciting time of year in Nebraska, as the Sandhill crane migration begins in the Platte River valley.

We recently visited with Bill Taddicken, who is the director of Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon. He's been at the sanctuary now as a director for more than two decades. "We are seeing cranes in the valley right now, but as we move closer to March we will see more and more," Taddicken said. "There are about 660,000 cranes in this migration."

One of the best ways to see the cranes is from a blind. You can find out more about blinds at Rowe Sanctuary by going to rowe.audubon.org. "There are spaces left, especially the first week of March and the first week of April. Those are great times to view cranes. The first week of April can be amazing," Taddicken said. The best times to be in the blind is in the early morning around sunrise, and then in the evening. That is often when the birds are back in droves on the river. "The sound is probably 80% of the entire experience. A single crane's voice can be heard for more than a mile," Taddicken said.

Safety is a top concern again this year for the folks at Rowe Sanctuary. "We had 27,000 people through our doors last year in 6 weeks. They estimate that around 60,000 people come to see the cranes every year," Taddicken said. "The issue right now is people want to see the cranes, but if they can't get into one of the blinds, they go to one of the viewing platforms on the river. Occasionally people park on the roadways, that that is illegal. The sheriff's office has said that this year, they will write tickets for those who are parked on the roads."

Rowe officials are asking that if you are coming to see the cranes, don't park on roads and don't stand on bridges. But they also want to remind visitors to be sure and take some time to disconnect, and enjoy the natural wonder known as the Sandhill crane migration.