The Crane Trust, a nonprofit habitat maintenance organization in central Nebraska, has come up with a novel approach for viewing the one-of-a-kind sandhill crane migration this spring.
The trust is offering Virtual Crane Tours for the first time.
During the annual migration, 1 million or more sandhill cranes pass through central Nebraska on their way to breeding grounds in the north. At any given time, as many as 150,000 cranes can be found along the Platte River near the Crane Trust.
“That’s the largest crane roost in the entire world,” said Chuck Cooper, Crane Trust chief executive officer.
During a typical spring, up to 4,000 people view the cranes from blinds at the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center, Cooper said. Another 1,000 experience the migration from VIP blinds on Crane Trust land. The money raised contributes significantly to the trust’s year-round habitat maintenance efforts.
Last year’s viewing season was cut short, and the pandemic threatens to eliminate trips to the blinds this year, as well, Cooper said.
The solution, Virtual Crane Tours, will be available beginning Friday, Dec. 18.
Any $75 or more donation to support Crane Trust’s mission will provide around-the-clock access to a crane viewing camera throughout March. A donation can also be made as a gift to grant access for the recipient.
Guided tours will begin 30 minutes before sunrise and an hour before sunset each day. The guides will offer insights and answer questions submitted online without interrupting the spectacle of the cranes leaving their roosts in the morning and returning in the evening.
The state-of-the-art camera will offer a broad perspective of the Platte along with zoom and pan capabilities.
To make a donation and sign up for the Virtual Crane Tour, click here.