7346
Kearney
Migration of the Sandhill Cranes: A World-Class Experience
For birders, it doesn’t get any better than the Great Plains’ Central Flyway. Come see for yourself as you spot hundreds of species, including the world’s largest gathering of cranes.
Rating (5)
Program No. 7346RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,099
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Kearney, NE
D
Microtel Inn Hotel

Activity note: Please arrive prior to 5:00 PM. Daylight Savings Time Begins Check-in day March 12!!

Afternoon: 3:00-5:00 PM check in at hotel, meet at 5 pm in hotel lobby for introductions followed by walking to dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant, order off the menu, non-alcoholic beverages included

Evening: Welcome meeting, introductions, and important information about the Program

DAY
2
Rowe Sanctuary Viewing Blinds, Crane Viewing
Kearney, NE
B,L,D
Microtel Inn Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1/2 mile in pre-dawn, freezing temperatures; standing in unheated blind for up to 2 hours

Breakfast: Microtel Breakfast Buffet including hot and cold items-we will eat 5 am before leaving at 5:30 am.

Morning: 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. Pre-dawn crane music turns into a crescendo of wake-up calls as the cranes awaken and leave their riverine roost sites. We have reserved a blind at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary for prime views of the cranes in areas along the river’s edge. We will experience the almost deafening chorus and clamor of tens of thousands of cranes taking flight toward the cornfields and prairies where they will forage during the day.

Lunch: Restaurant meal, order off the menu

Afternoon: We learn during an expert lecture about the Sandhill Crane's behaviors. Then we take a Field trip to "Loafing Areas" called this 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.

Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant, order off the menu, non-alcoholic beverages included

Evening: After a very early start and a long day, free to relax and prepare for tomorrow's adventure

DAY
3
Water Basin & Water Fowl Protection Area Grand Circle Trip
Kearney, NE
B,L
Microtel Inn Hotel

Activity note: Walking and bird viewing up to 1/4 mile; cold windy conditions may exist

Breakfast: Microtel Breakfast Buffet including hot and cold items

Morning: After breakfast, we drive south to Harlan County Reservoir with its excellent habitat for viewing a variety of waterfowl, shore birds, and resident raptors. There may be an opportunity to view from a distance a Greater prairie Chicken Lek along the drive.

Lunch: Lunch is at a local Subway, order off the menu

Afternoon: We drive through wetlands and ponds of the Rainwater Basin, one of the west’s important areas for migrant waterfowl. Depending upon season and weather conditions, we hope to find over a dozen species of waterfowl. Recent drought conditions have diminished this area, but conditions can change and we will explore the area.

Dinner: Dinner tonight is on own to sample Kearney restaurants.

Evening: Free time for reflection on the days activities.

DAY
4
Platte River Visitor Center, Crane Fly-in at Sanctuary
Kearney, NE
B,L,D
Microtel Inn Hotel

Activity note: Morning: Walking and bird viewing up to 1/4 mile; cold windy conditions may exist Evening: Walking up to 1/2 mile in cold windy temperatures; standing in unheated blind for up to 2 hours

Breakfast: Microtel Breakfast Buffet including hot and cold items

Morning: We visit the Platte River and the Whooping Crane Trust Visitor Center. After viewing the Cranes from a nearby observation deck, we will have an exiting visit from naturalists and rescued birds of the Raptor Recovery Center - Helping Nebraska's raptors. The birds they will bring are injured raptors that are being rehabilitated for release back into the wild. Learn and experience first hand their work.

Lunch: Restaurant meal, order off the menu

Afternoon: We drive through fields observing the Sandhill Cranes and other species and then return to Platte River and Audubon Rowe Sanctuary. First we explore the sanctuary grounds then learn from staff about Crane Conservation efforts. Then we move into our specially reserved blind to witness the evening fly-in of the cranes and their Roosting Time in the late afternoon-early evening.

Dinner: Box dinner at Rowe Sanctuary prior to sunset viewing of the Sandhill Cranes .

Evening: Free time

DAY
5
Ft Kearny State Park, Injured Raptors Presentation
Kearney, NE
B,L,D
Microtel Inn Hotel

Activity note: Morning: Walking and bird viewing up to 1/4 mile; standing up to 1 hour; cold windy conditions may exist Evening: Walking up to 1/2 mile in cold windy temperatures; standing on bridge for up to 2 hours

Breakfast: Microtel Breakfast Buffet including hot and cold items

Morning: The morning will be spent learning about various birding techniques including Mist Netting/Banding and Field identification-birding at Fort Kearny State Park; hike/bike trail. We also will visit the recreated Fort Kearny to learn about it's role in the expansion of the Frontier.

Lunch: Local restaurant

Afternoon: We visit the University Nebraska Kearney campus for a lecture by Professor of Ornithology on Birds and Avian Conservation. After an early dinner, we return to Fort Kearny State Park to venture out at sunset to watch the cranes come into roost from the former railroad and now the walking bridge over the Platte River.

Dinner: Early Dinner at local restaurant, order off the menu, non-alcoholic beverages included

Evening: Free for packing and reflection.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Kearney, NE
B

Breakfast: Microtel Breakfast Buffet including hot and cold items

Morning: Depart anytime after breakfast. Check out by 10:00 am.