Nebraska: Sandhill Cranes & Prairie Grouse: Mar 19—26, 2016

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Departs: Omaha
Tour Limit: 12
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (93.6 KB)

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Tour Leaders

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Rick Wright

Rick Wright, a native of southeast Nebraska, studied French, German, philosophy, and life sc...


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Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of...


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Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes— Photo: Barry Zimmer

 

A matchless experience with untold thousands of waterfowl and cranes, a wide diversity of raptors, and two mornings watching the dramatic courtship dances of Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater Prairie-Chickens.

As it crosses the plains of central Nebraska, the Platte River hosts the greatest of all North American wildlife spectacles. Each spring, several million birds stop over here on their northbound migration; among them are more than 500,000 Sandhill Cranes—some 80 percent of the world population. Every evening the cranes return in their thousands from the fields and wet meadows to roost on the Platte’s broad channels and sandbars. Raptors are often numerous, and Greater Prairie-Chickens and Sharp-tailed Grouse have begun their exuberant dancing displays in the 20,000 wild square miles of the Nebraska Sandhills.
 
Bald Eagles, Rough-legged and Red-tailed hawks (often including striking dark-morph and intermediate individuals), and other raptors will be present in open country, while Wild Turkeys, American Woodcocks, Barred Owls, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Harris’s Sparrows, and Rusty Blackbirds may be found in the more wooded habitats along the Platte and Missouri Rivers. Depending on the weather and water conditions to the north, waterfowl numbers and diversity range from high to overwhelming, and a reliable highlight of this tour is the chance to study at our leisure, often at very close range, several species of ducks and geese that can be challenging or less familiar.

Mostly roadside birding with relatively little walking; primary birding focus at dawn and dusk, sometimes resulting in early or late meals; relatively short species list; possibility of winter-like weather.