Sandhill Cranes

Spring Birding Adventures

Looking for resources to plan your trip to North Platte? You’ve come to the right place. Individuals will find information on trip ideas and places to stay. For those of you looking to book something bigger make sure you take advantage of our tailored information just for you.

 

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2021 Sandhill Crane Tours begin March 19! Click here for details!

Each spring the most incredible migration event in the world passes through the North Platte, Nebraska area. More than 200,000 Sandhill Cranes will spend about six weeks in the North Platte River valley fortifying themselves for the nesting period to come. While they are here, they will engage in beautiful courtship and pair-bonding behaviors.

Courting cranes are magnificent as they stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air in a graceful and energetic dance. Parents will dance with their chicks for the entire first year of their lives. Juvenile Sandhill Cranes will use the complex dance steps they learned to select a mate when they are two to five years old. They will mate for life, though continue to show their affection to their mates each spring with their dancing prowess. The energies and, dare we say emotions, released during the dancing rituals are essential to successful breeding.

These graceful, exuberant rituals can best be observed while the Sandhill Cranes are in the feeding and loafing grounds, which are the meadows and crop fields within five miles from the river.

Sandhill Crane Tours

To aid you in your experience of the Sandhill Crane migration, Dusty Trails LLC, your outdoor specialists in North Platte has developed tours during the most active time of the day for the Sandhill Crane courtship behaviors.

All tours include a round trip through the North Platte River valley between North Platte and Hershey. The tour will linger along the rural roads wherever there are large groups of Sandhill Cranes so that you can observe, video and photograph as much as you would like.

While on the tour, you will be treated to information about the Sandhill Cranes, their migration and behaviors you may observe in the fields.

The transportation for the tours is a converted school bus that will be warm and dry and afford elevated visibility for Crane viewing. You will be supplied with a welcome bag including a snack and a water bottle.

Some binoculars will be available to share, but please feel free to bring along your own to enhance your experience, as well as whatever photography and videography equipment you would like.

Click here to book your 2021 Sandhill Crane Bus Tour!

Private Guided Viewing Blind

Dusty Trails LLC, your outdoor specialists in North Platte has partnered with a landowner along the North Platte River to place a Crane viewing blind near a large roost.

Sandhill CranesAll tours are accompanied by an experienced guide. The morning blind tours will involve walking into the blind in complete darkness and remaining in the blind until all of the birds have left the river, approximately 8:30 or 9:00am. The evening blind tours will involve walking into the blind before sunset and remaining in the blind until full dark, approximately 9:00 or 9:30pm.

Some binoculars will be available to share, but please feel free to bring along your own to enhance your experience, as well as whatever photography and videography equipment you would like. Please note, unless you purchase a separate experience in a photography blind, tripods are not allowed. No flash photography is allowed, and no flashlights are allowed. Your guide will lead you to and from the blind.

Though the viewing blind is enclosed and heated, it will still be very chilly. Warm, seasonally appropriate clothing is a must. Hats, gloves, thermal underwear, heavy coats and outerwear and sturdy boots are recommended.

Click here to book your Morning Sandhill Crane Blind Experience
Click here to book your Evening Sandhill Crane Blind Experience

Prairie Chicken Dance Tours

In the spring the hearts of the Nebraska Greater Prairie Chickens turn toward love. To successfully attract a female mate, the male Prairie Chickens must impress them with their dancing prowess. Males will gather in large numbers on dancing grounds known as leks. They will cackle, jump and stomp their feet, sometimes scuffling with a rival. Then they will scrunch down and inflate their bright orange neck sacks and emit an eerie booming sound.

The ladies on the other hand will observe the shenanigans circumspectly, examining the prospects with a critical eye. However, if they see something they like, they may come forward for a brief, flurried assignation.

Dusty Trails LLC will host an excursion to a large and busy Prairie Chicken lek located south of Sutherland.  Visitors will be transported to the lek by bus or van, a trip of about an hour. Coffee, juice and breakfast pastries will be provided on the bus. Feel free to bring your own refreshments, but please, no alcoholic beverages.

Though the viewing blind at the lek is enclosed, it will still be very chilly. Warm, seasonally appropriate clothing is a must. Hats, gloves, thermal underwear, heavy coats and outerwear and sturdy boots are recommended.

There will be some binoculars to share, but feel free to bring some to enhance your viewing experience, as well as whatever video and photography equipment you would like. Flash photography and additional lighting is strictly prohibited.

Click here to book your Prairie Chicken Dance Tour!

Combine all of these tours into an incredible spring birding experience!