On Tuesday, March 27th, we counted a photo-corrected 500,050 +71,500 Sandhill Cranes in the Central Platte River Valley between Chapman and Overton, Nebraska. Our flights are designed to estimate the abundance of Sandhill Cranes in particular segments of the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) so that we can evaluate the effectiveness of landscape-level habitat management work, which includes clearing trees, restoring native grassland, and disking the river to keep it free of woody vegetation. Additionally, these surveys help us keep track of spatial and temporal variation in Sandhill Crane roosting densities throughout the Platte River Valley, and trends therein. This information helps us prioritize conservation efforts, which areas of the CPRV need additional management, where are cranes increasing their use and how can we protect those areas, etc. In general, the coordinated spring survey of mid-continent Sandhill Cranes, conducted over a couple days in late March, provides the best estimate of the population utilizing the Central Platte River Valley. This effort coordinated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, surveys a larger area than our surveys do. However, as our surveys run throughout the spring migration they can estimate the date of peak abundance with a fair amount of accuracy. Despite a sizeable count today we are likely on the downslope. Additionally, conditions were appropriate for migration on Wednesday, March 28th as the temperatures warmed and the winds shifted to out of the south following our survey on Tuesday.
*Data property of the Crane Trust: Please contact before redistributing.