VIDEO: The Platte River's sandhill cranes
Nebraska's contribution to the Wonders of the Natural World.
Monday, April 5, 2010 - 01:43
SANDHILL CRANES: A flock returns to the Platte River at dusk to roost. (Photo: Dan Dvorett)
After seeing two whooping cranes, I'll admit ... I didn't expect to be impressed again on my recent trip to Nebraska. However, seeing 30,000 sandhill cranes on the Platte River changed my mind. The Platte River serves as a staging area during the spring for 500,000 sandhill cranes trekking to northern breeding grounds, and it truly is one of North America's natural wonders. I've seen flocks of a dozen sandhills here and there in Texas, but watching flock after flock fill the sandbars of the Platte River was amazing.
Sandhills are millions of years old and existed long before the Platte River formed 10,000 years ago, and the cranes' dance in the fields seems like an ancient spectacle. The Platte River itself is home to much controversy concerning water rights, conservation goals and farmers' property. However, too many environmental articles get bogged down with doom and gloom, and I feel it is more appropriate to just try and share the experience of seeing one of America's natural wonders.