Sandhill Crane Migration, March 21, 1995

On March 16th 1995, the fourth grade from Henderson Community School in Henderson, Nebraska went to see the Lesser Sandhill Cranes at the Platte River near Grand Island. It was a sunny day, the temperature was about 70 degrees. There was a calm wind. There were no clouds.
By: Ashley Janzen, Kasey Steever & Tyler Quiring


The cranes usually come to Nebraska around Valentine's Day but this year they came around late January and early February because we had a week of hot days and it was getting extremely warm down south. So they got caught in the cold. One individual crane stays in Nebraska about 4 weeks but the whole flock stays about 6 weeks in Nebraska. They leave Nebraska around mid April on their way North.
By: Dustan Friesen and Joel Kliewer


There were about 500,000 Cranes that stopped in Nebraska this spring on their way to Canada this year. When the Cranes had just began to land in Nebraska this year there were about 100 Cranes.
By: Lisa Weedin


When scientists count cranes, they use an airplane that has an infrared camera that senses the heat that the cranes give off. The Platte River water is cold. The heat that the cranes give off shows up on a screen of their camera. The cranes appear on the screen as little red dots. At night time, scientists fly over the Platte River and count cranes that appear on the screen.
By: Tristan Friesen and Steven Sheridan


The cranes have been coming to the Platte River for over ten million years. They have been coming for the shallow water which has all the food that they need in it. The Platte River is wide and flat. So as you can tell, the word Platte means flat in German. The deep water areas are caused by the underwater currents. The cranes eat water snakes, snails, and earthworms. Also the shallow water has protection from foxes and other meat eating preditors because there is deep water around it. So when the preditors dive into the water, the cranes will fly away.
By: Adam Eck and Kendall Siebert


On our field trip to the Platte we saw some cranes taking off and landing. When we looked though the spottingscope, we saw some cranes flying through the air. All the cranes had red and black on their heads. Some of the cranes were about 100 yards from us. They usually don't come that close to humans but they did because we were very quiet and we moved slowy. When we came, they had their heads up until they got used to us. Then some cranes put their heads back down. They were not just staying in one place, they were moving all over the place. We could hear the different sounds that the cranes made.
By: Erik Friesen and Jamie Friesen


The cranes go through many movements when courting another crane. These movements look like the cranes are dancing. Bowing: When bowing, the crane lowers its neck, bends down, and extends its wings. Then it lunges upward and goes back its original position. Stick-Tossing: The cranes do certain movements when tossing a stick. The crane bows its head and picks up an object. Then it explodes upward and throws the object away. After that the crane goes back to its original position.
By: Eric Norris and Myles Regier

4th Grade classes
Henderson Community School
Henderson, Nebraska 68371

The Henderson students say that over a half a million sandhill cranes are visiting their Platte River this month!

Why do you think so many sandhill cranes visit the Platte River (and nowhere else) each spring?

Use good maps of North America and Nebraska to answer this question and send it to:

These cranes are headed to their nests in remote arctic regions of northern Canada and Alaska. Many travel all the way into Russia across the Bering Sea! We hope our friends in Alaska will be on the lookout when the sandhills finally arrive! Here's a report that arrived from Alaska recently:

Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 17:38:13 -0800
From: "C.j. Knight"

"We will be seeing the sandhill cranes and snow geese soon. Don't know if they want to fly here yet, it's been -30 for 3 days! My students are 3-4th graders."

C.J. Knight
Soldotna Elementary
Soldotna, Alaska 99669