The great spring congregation of some half million migrating sandhill cranes along Nebraska's Platte River Valley has now peaked and on the ebb. The cranes are now mostly on the wing in their big push to Canada, Alaska and Siberia. They are a sleek and beautiful creature in flight, as seen here silhouetted against a bright, but cloudy sky. It's little surprise to see why cranes are so revered by cultures the world over.
Will they continue to thrive and migrate as they do now or will global warming change their patterns and habitats or even their existence? We shall see, of course, but since they are among the oldest living birds on the planet and have existed over 34 million years, they have more than proven their ability to adapt.
Here, we're already looking forward to the awe and magic that their great numbers will bring again on next year's visit.
Sandhill cranes departing their overnight roost on sandbars in the Platte River, near Grand Island, Nebraska. They will spend their entire day feeding on stubble in nearby farmland fields before returning to the river at sunset.
These beautiful birds are a part of the 500,000 sandhill cranes making a brief visit along Nebraska's Platte River for rest and nourishment. It's estimated that they will add 20 percent of their body weight during a four to five week period of feeding in surrounding farmlands before their big push north. During our visit to the Platte yesterday, there were thousands of these large birds everywhere in the fields and sky. 80 percent of all the migrating cranes on the planet make their stop here for R and R. Although some twenty million other migrating birds also visit this short stretch along the Platte, there were few to be seen yesterday. Many of the two million snow geese, for instance, have come and gone. It's believed the sandhill cranes have congregated here on the Platte for some 10 thousand years during one of the earth's greatest migrations.
Here they come! They do it at this time every year. About a half million sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) congregate along an eighty mile stretch of Nebraska's Platte River for several weeks in order to rest, feed and fatten up before continuing their migration north to nesting grounds in Canada, Alaska and even Siberia. It is truly one of the great spectacles of nature and a birder's delight. They arrive in waves from various southern wintering grounds beginning in mid February and continue until early April. In the weeks ahead I hope to make several posts with current photos and information about the extraordinary sandhill crane gathering and possibly a few pics of some of the other estimated 300 species that will also be passing through on their northbound journey.
A small flock of some 20 plus trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) have chosen a lake (with some open water) in the Omaha metro as their place to winter over before heading north again, most likely in late February. The trumpeter swan is considered to be the world's largest extant species of waterfowl.. They mate for life and congregate in small groups or families rather than travel in large flocks. Their loud, resonant, bugling voice is unmistakable. The trumpeters are native to North America and have a black bill with a long straight neck and do not share the bright orange bill and classic S shaped neck of the introduced Eurasian mute swan more commonly seen in urban ponds and lakes.
Omaha Lens is an effort to record and post images about day-to-day life seen through the lens of my camera, both in and around the Omaha area of the U.S heartland and from my travels elsewhere.
Hope you enjoy your visit.