Crane Viewing at Sunset on the Platte River

March 22, 2015

Sandhill cranes returning to Platte River to roost for the night

Sandhill cranes returning to Platte River to roost for the night

Sandhill cranes at sunset

Sandhill cranes at sunset

“It is a seductive space of suction and vortex, of migration and wandering and swirl.  Open to sun, open to lightening, each day and step have a distinct uncanny potential for revelation.”   —  Richard Powers, The Echo Maker

We watched the sandhill cranes return from the fields to the Platte River, where they roost at night.  The shallow sandbars provide a habitat relatively safe from predators.  There were a few early cranes claiming their roosting spots, but as the sun set, more and more strings of sandhills flew overhead, seemingly rushing to find safe harbor  before dark.

We weren’t as close the these wild birds as I would have liked for intimate photographic portraits, but the opportunity to see such vast numbers in huge flocks was as special in its own way.

“In sandhill cranes the daily flights to and from roosts are closely tied to light levels. . . . Almost cetainly light levels, rather than sunrise or sunset per se, are the critical factor, for in the Platte River area the cranes always begin returning to the river before sunset on cloudy days, but often wait until a half hour or later beyond sunset on sunny days with extended periods of twilight.”  — Paul A. Johnsgard, Cranes of the World



2 Responses to “Crane Viewing at Sunset on the Platte River”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    That last bit about light levels rings true. I’ve seen the same thing with the doves that sit on my balcony railing in the evenings. Sometimes, they’ll stay far longer than I think is safe for them, but clearly they know more about being birds than I do. On evenings when the sky is clear, they’ll wait until after sunset –even until nearly pitch dark — to go home. On cloudy days, they come early for a last snack, and leave early, too.

  2. Elisa Says:

    gosh I am in tears imagining the joy of being able to witness this, thank you ever so much for sharing it as best as one can with words and images

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