During the spring migration of the Sandhill Cranes, the Crane Trust offers morning and evening guided blind tours to watch the cranes roosting on the Platte River. Our tours take you out to a blind on the north side of the river facing the largest roost. The blind is a small building with benches in the back and a plexiglass window in the front with drop-down windows for viewing the cranes. Cranes roost on submerged sandbars on the river for protection at night and forage in cornfields during the day. Our guided tours offer views of cranes coming in to roost for the evening or leaving for their foraging grounds in the morning. So, which is better, the morning or evening tour? I get asked this question a lot and my answer is always the same, it depends on who you are.
A morning tour begins before sunrise so it is still dark but far from quiet. Although you cannot see the cranes roosting, you can hear them calling. Our sunrises really are beautiful, especially when the first rays of sunshine reflect off the river to show the thousands of cranes before you. The cranes begin dancing and stretching their wings as they get ready to leave the roost. You can feel the anticipation in the air as their calls grow louder and louder before becoming almost deafening as large groups take flight and soar overhead on their way to their foraging grounds.
An evening tour begins when it is still light out. Cranes are flying in groups overhead and staging on land near the river. As the sun makes its descent, the sky becomes filled with cranes making their way to the river. All it takes is one crane to decide it is safe and land on the river for the others to follow. Eventually, there will be so many cranes coming in to roost that it looks like they are just pilling in on top of each other and what once had been a few dozen is now thousands. The cranes continue coming in even after it is too dark to see them, but you can still hear them as your tour ends.
Each tour is different and if you are like me, you will never miss an opportunity to go out in a blind to watch the sandhill crane migration. But which is my favorite? That is always the next question I am asked. It should be difficult to answer since both morning and evening tours are spectacular. However, it is easy for me. You see, my favorite color is purple and nothing beats the brilliant purple sunset of an evening blind tour.