Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version


Document Type



Czaplewski, Jenniges, and Peyton, "Breeding Season Observations of Sandhill Cranes on the Niobrara River in Nebraska," from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2014) 82(1).


Copyright 2014 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD), Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), and the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (Central) have been involved in the monitoring of Interior Least Terns (Sternula antillarum athalassos) and Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) along portions on the lower Niobrara River in northeast Nebraska since 2005. On two occasions, we observed a pair of adult Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) during the breeding season.

A pair of adult cranes was observed on June 8, 2011, on the Niobrara River approximately 7.8 km below the U.S. Route 137 bridge in Holt County. On July 17, 2013, a pair of adult cranes was observed on the Niobrara River in Boyd County. On neither occasion were young observed with the adults. The cranes observed in 2013 were viewed from a distance for several minutes prior to their departure. As they circled and flew off in a westerly direction, no young were observed. However, the timing of the observations, the surrounding abundant and undisturbed grassland and wetland habitats, as well as the full reproductive color (rusty-brown feather painting) could indicate a nesting attempt in the area. GPS locations were recorded for each crane sighting.