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Spring Migration of the Sandhill Cranes

Home of the Sandhill Crane Migration

Each spring more than 80% (~1,000,000) of the world's population of Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River in central Nebraska as they migrate south from their nesting grounds. Millions of migrating ducks and geese arrive with them. 

National Geographic named this annual migration as one of North America’s two greatest natural wildlife phenomena. In 2014, the Crane Trust documented that a Platte River sandbar on their property serves as the largest crane roost in the world during the sandhill cranes' spring migration. This one-of-a-kind experience draws beginning birders to scientists from across the country and across the globe.

March is the best time to see the largest numbers of birds; the peak of the gathering occurs during the second half of the month. Towards the end of March, you might also catch a glimpse of endangered Whooping Cranes or take the opportunity to venture into the Nebraska Sandhills to watch the colorful mating rituals of the Prairie Chickens.

How to see the Sandhill Cranes

Guided tours are available but not necessary to see the sandhill cranes. A public viewing deck is located in a county park (River Park) on the Platte River, and gravel turn-offs along Platte River Road offer opportunities to view the cranes in cornfields as they feed midday. 

The Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center is your headquarters for the spring migration of the sandhill cranes. Their guided viewing blind tours are designed to get you as close to the cranes as possible without disturbing them. VIP experiences are also available with lodging provided by the Crane Trust in newly constructed cabins. A handicapped-accessible footbridge tour overlooks a smaller channel of the Platte River on the trust property.

For a more customizable and longer crane-viewing experience, the Crane Cabin Retreat is available on one of the best stretches of river for crane viewing in the central flyway. 

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