Sandhill Crane Counts – Week 6

Andrew Caven, Lead Biologist

Our aerial count for this week are 208,600, with an absolute error of +/-12.9%. We had a mechanical malfunction on the plane before takeoff and had to change a light. This set us back about 20 minutes in terms of start time; this may have been precious time in terms of counting. We usually start about 25-30 minutes before sunrise (civil twilight), but today we got started just 5 or 10 minutes before sunrise. As the Sandhill Crane migration progresses birds move farther and farther afield, away from the river, to forage on waste corn making SACRs that have left the river harder to detect than earlier in the migration when they are closer to the river. Guests in blinds along the river told us 20-30% or so of the birds had left by the time we flew by, indicating that this count may be low. However, even considering this information, we certainly seem to be past peak numbers. Birds at this point are pretty evenly distributed throughout the Big Bend of the Platte River, with significant roosts even in Western bridge segments west of Kearney to Overton. American White Pelicans and other birds of interest began to pass through the Platte River Valley in notable numbers this week.

*Data property of the Crane Trust: Permission required before use or distribution.

Sandhill Cranes Roosting in Shallow Water / Photo by A. Caven

1 Comment

  • Janice Martin says:

    I live on the west end of North Platte and leave windows open at night just so I can hear the cranes. Some nights they are quite actively talking to each other and other nights they are pretty quiet. Makes me wonder why the difference.

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