Bird Cam

The Sandhill Crane Ballet

Brought to you by Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary.

Get swept away by Nebraska's great crane migration! Hailing from their winter homes in southern North America, Sandhill Cranes are embarking on their summer migration in flocks that blot out the skies. Every year, half a million of these balletic birds makes a necessary rest stop at Nebraska’s’ Platte River, where they dance, bathe, and forage in the water, from March until the first two weeks of April. To savor the fleeting visit and share it with the world, the Rowe Sanctuary installed a “crane cam”—a window into the more than 2,000 acres of essential ecosystem that has been set aside for cranes, least terns, and piping plovers.

Best seen at sunrise or near sunset, the cranes can be distinguished by their willowy grey bodies and apple-red crowns. They share the Platte River with ducks, geese, shorebirds, beavers, coyotes, fox, mink, the occasional Whooping Crane, and Bald Eagles. Early in the day, the eagles soar over the river, causing the wading birds below to stand in alert synchrony.

If you stick around long enough, you might even hear a signature “kar-r-r-r-o-o-o”: the crane’s call, which varies greatly in duration and volume depending on its intent. View and listen while you can—in less than a month, these travelers will be well rested and en route to the northern country.