Sandhill Cranes and Colorado Traveling Ducks Visit Kearney, Nebraska

600,000 Sandhill Cranes migrate through Kearney, Nebraska every year.   600,000?!?   We had to see this.

We are in Nebraska

We are in Nebraska

So, we drove to Nebraska Saturday and this is what we learned.   The majority of the Sandhill Cranes are there the third weekend of March, so many had already left when we arrived.   And the man at Fort Kearney said almost all the cranes will be gone by this weekend.   If we go again, it will be in mid March.       The cranes migrate to Kearney to eat.   They normally weigh 8-12 pounds.   The Sandhill cranes try to gain at least 1 1/2 pounds in Kearney.    So we saw groups of cranes in last years corn fields.

Groups of Sandhill Cranes eating in corn fields

Groups of Sandhill Cranes eating in corn fields

The cranes stay along the Platte River between Kearney and Grand Island and feast in the corn fields a few miles north and south of the river.   They are afraid, or at least wary of humans, so they stay in the middle of the fields, making photos difficult.   This is a small group, showing the pink on the heads.

Sandhill cranes watching us

Sandhill cranes watching us

The man at Fort Kearney said the cranes are hunted in parts of south Texas and northern Mexico.   There is a hunting season to control the population.   If they over populate, they will starve either here or in the arctic where they spend the summer.   While a  group is eating in the corn fields, there are a few looking for any threat.

Some cranes eat and some cranes watch for threats

Some cranes eat and some cranes watch for threats

Our stopped car could be considered a threat to them.   We were told to take photos from the car, not to get out of the car as that scares them.    These cranes are about 3 feet tall, but look smaller due to the distance.   We just thought they were so cute, with the pink on their heads.

Aren't they cute?

Aren’t they cute?

They spend the day eating in corn fields and as the sun gets lower, they head to the Platte River where they spend the night in 2-4 inches of water.   These cranes were flying either to another field or to the river.   They make a much softer noise than geese and are a delight to hear as they fly over.

Cranes flying to river

Cranes flying to river

The Sandhill cranes come through here in March every year.   This is one of the few places with so many of them at one time.   This is their general migration path for the trip north.

Sandhill Crane migration path

Sandhill Crane migration path

They mate and spend the summer in Alaska and Siberia.   Since we were in the farm land of Nebraska, we saw much farm equipment, but this tall vehicle driving on the road fascinated us.

Tall piece of farm equipment

Tall piece of farm equipment

In the spring many young animals are born, so here are cows with small calves.

Small calves with mom in field

Small calves with moms in a field

In Lexington, Nebraska, we stopped at Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles.   Unfortunately it was closed.

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Nebraska

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Nebraska

Over the fence we saw this tank.

Military tank

Military tank

This vehicle also caught our attention.

Military vehicle

Military vehicle

At the westbound rest area at mile 270, we were intrigued by this sculpture.

Sculpture at westbound rest area mile post 270

Sculpture at westbound rest area mile post 270

Our last stop was North Platte.   There were several things we wanted to see, but the booklet said everything we wanted either closed at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, or was still closed for the winter.   However the Veteran Memorial was always open.   So we went, and guess what?   It was closed for required repairs.

Veterans Memorial in North Platte, Nebraska

Veterans Memorial in North Platte, Nebraska

But, we could still see some sculptures.   We like driving across Nebraska.   They have many attractions and most are clearly marked.   Even if they are closed, as most were today, you can still see some of the things.   We drive through Nebraska frequently, so we will stop again.   If you drive across Nebraska, stop often to see things.   There are so many things relating to the pioneer days, you never need to be bored or wonder what you should see.   We always find something interesting driving through Nebraska and we think you will too.

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4 thoughts on “Sandhill Cranes and Colorado Traveling Ducks Visit Kearney, Nebraska

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