Departure for field trip 5:30 a.m. Walking up to 1/2 mile, standing in unheated blind for up to 2 hours; pre-dawn, freezing temperatures.
In the hotel at 5:00 a.m., the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices; included beverages milk, coffee, tea, water.
We will travel by bus to the Ian Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary where we will have a reserved viewing blind. In the very early morning hours, we will experience our first “crane rise” as the “gray sandbar islands” of the Platte River turn into clouds of Sandhill cranes leaving their roost sites. As many as 400,000 sandhill cranes migrate annually at this time of year through the 60 mile stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska that we visit. We’ll return to Kearney mid-morning and go straight to a local restaurant for brunch.
Our brunch is at a local restaurant, we will order from the menu; non-alcoholic beverage included.
Returning to the hotel to shed some layers of clothing, we'll then re-board our bus and return to the Rowe Sanctuary where an Audubon staff educator will give us a lecture on the Sandhill Crane’s behaviors. We’ll then set out on another field trip to “loafing areas” — so called due to the Cranes settling in and feeding, relaxing in surrounding farmer’s corn and grain fields. As we angle our way back through farm fields and roads, we have a chance to watch crane behavior in detail. Watch for pair bonding activities, dancing, strutting, feeding, resting, and other flock dynamics.
Early dinner at a local restaurant, we’ll order from the menu; non-alcoholic beverage included, other beverages available for purchase.
We’ll take a field trip to Fort Kearny State Park and look for wintering and resident passerine birds such as Cedar Waxwings, Northern Cardinals, and Bluejays, while keeping an eye out along the river for the majestic Bald Eagles that frequent the Platte. We’ll then venture out at sunset to watch the cranes come into roost from the former railroad — now the walking bridge over the Platte. (NOTE we may choose an alternate evening fly-in location depending upon location of the cranes.) Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. After a very early start and a long day, relax and prepare for tomorrow's adventure.