52 Weeks of Fun

Not Just Destination Finders, But Destination Storytellers


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The Crane Trust


They come as they have for thousands of years to this stretch of the Platte River—more than 600,000 Sandhill Cranes—to rest, feed and congregate in astonishing numbers before pushing on to their breeding grounds in the north. Now one can experience the wonder of North America’s great Sandhill Crane migration on historic Crane Trust lands in the heart of Nebraska.

The arrival of the cranes on Nebraska’s Platte River—and the millions of other migratory birds that visit each spring—is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent. Peak viewing times occur at dawn and sunset, meaning there is an extremely short and exclusive window to experience this awe-inspiring scene.

The Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center offers a variety of tour options to make sure crane viewing experiences are truly magical. Crane Trust river blinds are located along the largest Sandhill Crane roost in the world. For those planning a trip to Nebraska: mid to late March offers virtually a 100% chance of seeing plenty of sandhill cranes.

The Crane Trust, Inc. was formed in 1978 as part of a court-approved settlement of a controversy over the construction of Grayrocks Dam on a tributary of the Platte River in Wyoming. The settlement satisfied requirements of the Endangered Species Act. In 2012, the Crane Trust acquired the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center to help fulfill its mission by providing a more active gateway and resource for community outreach and education.

While viewing occasionally peaks before this time, in most years Sandhill Cranes begin to leave as April opens, with many birds gone by mid-month. Also, the cranes’ main source of food — waste corn from the previous fall’s harvest — runs low in fields near the Platte River, forcing the birds to spread out as far as 12 miles either side of the river. Flocks at this time are often more dispersed. Even so, this viewing time offers advantages. The evening gatherings along the river are still awe-inspiring, with longer, warmer days and later sunsets making for more comfortable conditions.

This time is also the best chance of catching a rare Whooping Crane. With about 300 or so in the wild flock, a visitor’s odds of seeing this tallest of the North American birds are slender at best. Those lucky enough to spot one should not approach it, but instead, contact Whooper Watch as this rare and magnificent sight is enjoyed — even if it doesn’t allow an award-winning photograph.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about The Crane Trust

The “dance” of the sandhill crane involves the pair engaging in elaborate bowing displays with outstretched wings and leaping in the air. They often pick up an object such as a stick and throw it upward repeatedly. This behavior, it is believed, strengthens the pair's bond.

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  • The Crane Trust
  • Wood River
  • (308) 382-1820