Crane Festival

Crane Festival Field Trips

{Below is the list of field trips offered at the 2017 festival to give a glimpse of trip possibilities for next year's event.}

By popular demand, our schedule of field trips has been expanded to increase the birding opportunities for festival goers. Also, please note that arrival and departure times for some trips have changed from previous years. Important: These field trips are only available to people paying Crane Festival registration.

Please read departure and return times carefully, as several trips will overlap with other conference programs.  All field trips will leave from and return to the west entrance of the Holiday inn.

Guided Sandhill Crane Excursion to Rowe Sanctuary

Thursday and Friday evenings • 3:45–9:00 p.m.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings • 5:30–10:00 a.m.

Cost: $50/person, $60 after February 15

On this guided trip you will experience the sights and the sounds of Sandhill Cranes roosting on the Platte River at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary.

Morning trips will first go directly to Rowe Sanctuary. The group will walk to strategically placed viewing blinds to witness thousands of Sandhill Cranes on the river at sunrise, and then will watch cranes in the fields on the drive back to the hotel.

Afternoon trips will begin with daytime viewing of cranes in nearby fields and meadows, then the tour will travel to Rowe Sanctuary to walk to the viewing blinds for a beautiful sunset view of cranes on the river.

Walking distances to the viewing blinds range from 1/4 to 1/2 mile over relatively level but unpaved terrain, with a portion of the walk occurring during very low light conditions (well before sunrise and well after sunset). Viewing blinds are wooden structures with carpeted floors that offer shelter from wind, rain, and snow, but are not heated and will be as cold as or colder than it is outside. Extremely warm clothing (especially footwear) is strongly recommended.

Transportation is provided.

If you are planning on using photography please note Rowe Sanctuary’s Photo Policy at http://rowe.audubon.org/visit/general-crane-tours.

Full-Day Birding Excursion

Thursday, March 16 • 6:45 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Friday, March 17 • 6:45 a.m.–3:00 p.m. (Trip has one space left as of 2/24.)

Saturday, March 18 • 6:45 a.m.–3:00 p.m. (Trip is full.)

$50/person, $60 after February 15

A local birding expert will lead this popular trip to birding hotspots in central Nebraska. The emphasis will be on witnessing the great waterfowl migration. Routes for this trip will be determined close to the departure date in order to locate birding spots offering the best opportunity to see the most variety of birds. Transportation and a sack lunch will be provided – vegetarian option by request. Please note that viewing will take place both outdoors and in buses; please dress in layers.

Half-Day Birding Excursion

Thursday, March 16 • 7:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Friday, March 17 • 7:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m. (Trip is full)

Saturday, March 18 • 7:00 a.m–12:15 p.m. (Trip is full)

$35/person, $45 after February 15

Enjoy a trip to birding hotspots in central Nebraska to view migrating ducks, geese, and other early migrants. Stops at prairie dog towns are also planned if time and weather allow. Routes for this trip will be determined close to the departure date in order to locate birding spots offering the best opportunity to see the most variety of birds. Transportation is provided. Please note that viewing will take place both outdoors and in buses; please dress in layers.

Greater Prairie-Chicken Viewing Trips

Thursday, March 16 (leave hotel 4:00 p.m.) – Friday, March 17 (return to hotel at 12:00 p.m.) (Trip is full.)

Friday, March 17 (leave hotel at 4:00 p.m.) – Saturday, March 18 (return to hotel at 12:00 p.m.)

$200/person, $210 after February 15

Calamus Outfitters (www.calamusoutfitters.com) near Burwell, Nebraska, is the host for this trip to witness the wonderful prairie grouse courtship displays on a working ranch at an Audubon Important Bird Area in the Nebraska Sandhills. The Sandhills, at ~11 million acres, is the largest intact prairie system in the country. Participants will enjoy supper and an overnight stay at the lodge (rooms are double occupancy – single participants may need to share rooms). After a restful night on the ranch, guests will be treated to a sunrise trip to a display area of greater prairie-chickens. After a warm sandhills country breakfast, the group will birdwatch around Calamus Reservoir before returning to Kearney.

Fee includes transportation, supper, breakfast, lodging, and chicken tour. Space limited. Note: Due to trip’s popularity, the fee is non-refundable.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Viewing Trips

Thursday, March 16 (leave hotel 4:00 p.m.) – Friday, March 17 (return to hotel at 12:00 p.m.)

Friday, March 17 (leave hotel at 4:00 p.m.) – Saturday, March 18 (return to hotel at 12:00 p.m.)

$200/person, $210 after February 15

Calamus Outfitters (www.calamusoutfitters.com) near Burwell, Nebraska, is the host for this fieldtrip to witness the wonderful prairie grouse courtship displays on a working ranch at an Audubon Important Bird Area in the Nebraska Sandhills. The Sandhills, at ~11 million acres, is the largest intact prairie system in the country. Participants will enjoy supper and an overnight stay in a hotel in Burwell (guests will not be staying at Calamus Outfitters; rooms are double occupancy – single participants may need to share rooms). After a restful night, guests will be treated to a sunrise trip to a display area of sharp-tailed grouse. After a warm sandhills country breakfast, the group will birdwatch around Calamus Reservoir before returning to Kearney.

Fee includes transportation, supper, breakfast, lodging, and grouse tour. Space limited. Note: Due to trip’s popularity, the fee is non-refundable.

NEW! Open Air Crane Viewing and Campfire (Trip is full)

Friday, March 17 • 3:45-9:00 p.m.

$25/person, $35 after February 15

This trip will begin with daytime viewing of cranes in nearby fields and meadows. The tour will then travel to Rowe Sanctuary, where participants will enjoy a peaceful evening with a knowledgeable guide within Rowe’s property.

From this exclusive location near evening staging areas, guests will relax in lawn chairs with a campfire (weather dependent) to watch cranes gather in wet meadows and fly to the Platte River for the night. This unique experience will be under the open sky without a blind. Truly one of the most spectacular ways to witness this fly-in.

Please note that this field trip does not include a trip to the Rowe Sanctuary viewing blinds.

Transportation is provided.

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