The Cranes

I spent last Saturday with my brother who lives by Overton, Nebraska, a small town about 45 minutes from where I live. As the evening approached, we decided to take a drive to see if we could capture some photos of the rural farm life he lives. And then I realized I almost missed it – the cranes.

The famous sandhill crane migration has begun.

We’d found some old abandoned buildings and farm equipment to shoot pictures of when I heard it – the sound of the cranes flying in the thousands, their calls echoing through the valley. Their wingspan alone (six to seven feet) was breathtaking to watch as they flew overhead and landed in a nearby field. But my favorite moment was when the sun set as we drove down a road to see them standing prouding on top of a hill, with the backdrop of yellows and reds behind them as they danced.

Kearney is a hub for crane migration, in particular the cranes love the Platte River. Each year for about six weeks, we are treated to the sight of fields covered with the majestic cranes as the rest and gain strength for a long migration north. It’s estimated that around 500,000 sandhill cranes pass through here during March and April.

Until you’ve seen a field covered with thousands of cranes, until you’ve seen them fly in packs overhead, until you’ve heard the way they speak and see them dance, I can never fully describe the true experience of the sandhill crane migration. It’s one of the reasons I love Nebraska, and once again reminds me of how big this earth is and how we humans are just one small part.

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