Sandhill Cranes at Sunset
The Sandhill Cranes spend their days in the unplowed cornfields eating old corn that was left behind at harvest. They are spread all over the country side. You can't drive anywhere without seeing a group grazing in the fields. At Sunset they all return to the Platte River Basin to roost. They gather on the sandbars in the river because the water on each side protects them from predation.
"There is a magical time that occurs each year in the heart of North America, when the river and the seasons and the birds all come into a brief conjunction. When that happens, it is simply called sublime."
Paul A. Johnsgard
Crane Music: A Natural History of North American Cranes
We all met and boarded our bus around 5 PM. We traveled a short distance to the Fort Kearney State Recreational Area where a bridge has been built over the river for viewing the migratory flocks. Before the birds started arriving we had a wonderful catered reception in the woods ... Hors d'oeuvres and wine or a soft drink if you preferred. After we were well fed we headed for the Bridge (a 15 minute walk) and parked ourselves along the bridge to see what we could see ...
As you watch this slide show, understand that each slide is of a different flock in sequence ... they were coming from every direction. Their Crane music (bugling) filled the air and they just kept coming and coming. If you look closely you will see specks in the backgrounds of many of the pictures which are more flocks coming in the distance. My heart was in my throat the whole time. In my lifetime, I can't remember ever feeling so close to or in awe of Nature. I know ... you have to be there, but hopefully you will get some sense of the magnificence of this night on a bridge in Kearny, Nebraska.