Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

December 2002


Published in The Nebraska Bird Review 70:4 (December 2002), pp. 175-178. Used by permission of The Nebraska Ornithologists' Union.


Although the spring concentrations of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska's Platte Valley are now an avian phenomenon known nationwide, a general appreciation and inventory of this unique concentration of birds has only been attempted in the last few decades. I am often asked how long this largest of all crane concentrations has been occurring in the Platte Valley, and why it has developed only there. Here I will try to summarize the little-known history of this marvelous assemblage, but not dwell on the ecological reasons for it. The latter are now generally well understood to revolve around abundant spring food supplies (now almost entirely corn) and safe nocturnal roosting sites (the sandy bars and islands of the uniquely wide and shallow Platte River).

Our cherished annual spring spectacle of Sandhill Cranes in the Platte Valley may be more precarious than we realize, and must be carefully tended.

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