Date of this Version
In 1933, Myron Swenk determined the status of the Whooping Crane in Nebraska by summarizing all of the records then available to him, and established the general pattern of timing and geographic distribution of Whooping Crane occurrence in this state. Although the population of this species has remained very low since that time, a sufficient number of observations have been made to warrant updating his analysis and comparing the more recent records with these earlier ones. During the summer of 1977 the junior author undertook such a summary as a class project, by extracting such records from all of the issues of Nebraska Bird Review from the fall of 1933 through the spring of 1977. No other sources such as newspapers were utilized, although it is possible that some acceptable records may have been overlooked as a result. The materials were prepared for publication by the senior author.
This review of published Whooping Crane sightings indicates that over half of the total spring occurrences in Nebraska occur during the first half of April, and are closely associated with the Platte River, particularly the section between Lexington and Grand Island. Fall occurrences are less predictable, but occur from early October to early November. The role of the Platte River as a major stopover for Whooping Cranes between their wintering and breeding grounds is clearly evident, and the maintenance of an adequate flow to provide suitable habitat during migration periods of this endangered species should be a matter of concern to state and federal conservation agencies. Additionally, the presence of a federal wildiife refuge on the Platte River between Lexington and Grand Island would be of obvious significance in the preservation of this species.