Travel Blog

Crane Crossing (Journey to Oregon)

One aspect that I’m most looking forward to about living and working outdoors in Oregon is communing with the natural cycles of nature.

Josh and I hope that our internal clocks will reset to the tune of resting with nightfall and rising with the sun (or a few hours after, for me..). Living without our faces attached to screens, with limited electricity, and at the mercy of Mother Nature will be a much needed reboot.

Considering the symbolic significance of different species of birds throughout many cultures and folklore, I find it an auspicious sign that the beginning of our journey to Oregon fell at the same time as the great sandhill crane migration in Nebraska.

This is the largest gathering of cranes in the world, with 500,000 to 600,000 cranes migrating north. Of the six species of sandhill crane, three of the species migrate from Mexico, Texas and New Mexico up to the northern U.S., Canada, and Siberia. They make a stopover in Central Nebraska in mid-February to early April. There, they rest, roost, and eat.

People from around the country flock to central Nebraska to see the spectacle of the birds launching into the sky together in the morning and settling back in the river at night. Make sure to book your spot early, as camp sites and tours fill up quickly.

The Nature Conservancy that protects the Platte River Prairies offers sunrise and sunset crane tours, where they will guide you to a blind to view the cranes without disturbing them. The Iain Nicolson Audobon Center at Rowe Sanctuary offers several different types of crane tours. In addition to viewing from the blinds, they also offer special tours for photographers, overnight tours, and indoor viewing areas.

We took I-80 through Nebraska, which happens to run along part of the Platte River, where the cranes convene. There’s a 70-mile stretch between Kearney and Grand Island where the majority of the cranes roost on the river at night. Although our trip timing didn’t work out to see the cranes during peak viewing hours (before sunrise and during sunset), we still saw hundreds of them pecking in the corn fields along the highway.

Ambassador animals, such as the sandhill crane, that migrate in masses and draw attention are an undeniable reminder of the need for conservation. Without protected wetland areas and riverways, these birds and many other species would not have places to rest, eat, mate, and raise young.

I was grateful to be able to see the cranes during our own migration. Nature is constantly reminding us of the interconnection of the universe, on both a spiritual and practical level.

Check out this post from one of my favorite blogs to read about one of the sandhill crane migration’s greatest mysteries.

3 thoughts on “Crane Crossing (Journey to Oregon)”

  1. We loved your story about the cranes. For years we have intended to go see them in Nebraska, and still hope to get there some spring. Nancy Solodar

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    1. I’m sure that you will and hope that you do! While driving through Iowa I saw a lot of hawks on fence posts. I saw a magpie in Oregon and every day there are flocks of geese in their V-formations and seagulls around our camp. Apparently near us, the Upper Klamath Basin is known for its phenomenal bird watching!

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