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Crane Count Week 2 - 2/24/2024

Another record week! On February 24, 2024, we estimated 122,700 + 9,100 Sandhill Cranes between Chapman and Overton, NE. A large majority of these cranes were roosting between highway 34 and Wood River, with only a few thousand spread out throughout the remaining river valley. On average, this time of year (“week 2”) we see around 27,000 cranes. The previous record (between 2002-2023) was recorded as 82,000 in 2016. Based on the average weekly counts from 2002-2023, we don’t see these kinds of numbers till week 4, the first full week of March. With these high numbers we are likely to see an early peak season around the Crane Trust. However, cranes are not eager to migrate in less than ideal weather so a cold front or change in weather could keep these cranes here for longer and delay new arrivals.

While the large numbers are more unusual for this early, the concentration in the east is not. Our friends at Rowe will start seeing more cranes soon! However, the eastern portions of the Central Platte usually receive a larger proportion of Greater Sandhill Cranes than the west and Greaters migrate slightly earlier than Lesser Sandhill Cranes. This slight spatial-temporal discrepancy between the subspecies can sometimes cause “peak” to either be spread out over a few weeks or even result in two “sub-peaks,” an earlier one in the east and a slightly later one in the west.

This next week looks to bring in a slight dip in temps midweek but will resume to the unseasonably warm by the end of the week. Winds are forecasted to be higher from the west. We’ll wait and see what the winds blow in…

Till next week,