29 March 2010

Protecting an Ancient Pathway

More on the Sandhill Cranes

The Sandhills are the most abundant crane species in the world
and one of the oldest birds with a fossil record
dating back over 2 million years ago.

Sunrise on the Platte

The Platte River is the important fueling stop 
for the migrating cranes of the Central Flyway.
The River is broad and shallow with many sandbars that 
the cranes roost on during night.  Formed in the Rockies, the 
Platte flows east to the Missouri River.  During the past 70 years 
much of the Platte's water flow has diminished due to irrigation needs.
Strong flows in the spring that scour the sandbars clean of vegetation
are important to the cranes.  Now periodic restoration work
has to be conducted to keep the habitat favorable for the cranes.

During the day, the cranes are scattered about eating in farm fields,
gaining body weight for their journey into Canada, Alaska and even into Siberia.

An estimated 90,000 people come each spring to witness 
the migration bringing an economic benefit to the surrounding areas.
An abandoned rail bed bridge is a prime vantage point to 
watch the cranes arrive at sunset.

Sunset from the bridge

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