Crane Festival

Crane Festival Field Trips

2019 Field Trips

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 and Convention Center in Kearney. Transportation is provided for all trips. (Field trip costs are not included in festival registration.)

Guided Sandhill Crane Excursions to Rowe Sanctuary

Experience the amazing sights and 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 view Sandhill Cranes loafing in the fields on the way to Rowe Sanctuary. Once there participants will walk to the viewing blinds for a beautiful sunset view of cranes on the river.

Walking distances to 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. Warm clothing (especially footwear) is strongly recommended.

Transportation is provided. If you are planning on using photography, please read Rowe Sanctuary’s Photo Policy: http://rowe.audubon.org/visit/general-crane-tours.

Evenings:

Thursday, March 21 - 4:30-9:00 pm

Friday, March 22 - 4:30-9:00 pm

Mornings:

Friday, March 22 - 5:15-9:30 am

Saturday, March 23 - 5:15-9:30 am

Sunday, March 24 - 5:15-9:30 am

$60/person ($70/person after Feb. 15)

Half-Day Birding Excursions:

1) Birding the Rainwater Basin

Enjoy trips 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 these trips will be determined close to the departure date in order to locate the best birding opportunities. Transportation is provided.

Please note that viewing will take place both outdoors and in buses. Moderate walking will be involved on uneven terrain. Please dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes.

Thursday, March 21 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Friday, March 22 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Saturday, March 23 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

2) Birding Rowe Sanctuary

Participants will get a close look at Rowe Sanctuary with a knowledgeable guide to see birds in various habitat types associated with the Platte River, including wetlands, wet meadows, grasslands, and riparian woodlands.

This trip will also provide opportunities to view feeding and roosting Sandhill Cranes. Routes for these trips will be determined close to the departure date in order to locate the best birding opportunities. Transportation is provided.

Please note that viewing will take place both outdoors and in buses. Moderate walking will be involved on uneven terrain. Please dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes.

Thursday, March 21 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Friday, March 22 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Saturday, March 23 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

3) Birding the Platte River

Join a local guide to explore the Platte River Basin and associated wetlands, wet meadows, grasslands, and riparian woodlands.

This trip will provide opportunities to watch Sandhill Cranes feeding and roosting. Routes for these trips will be determined close to the departure date in order to locate the best birding opportunities. Transportation is provided.

Please note that viewing will take place both outdoors and in buses. Moderate walking will be involved on uneven terrain. Please dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes.

Thursday, March 21 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Friday, March 22 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Saturday, March 23 – 7:00 am-12:30 pm - $35/person ($45/person after Feb. 15)

Greater Prairie-Chicken Viewing Trip - Prairie Chicken Dance Tours

Audubon has partnered with McCook/Red Willow County Visitors Bureau to provide this opportunity to watch the spectacular show of southwest Nebraska’s Greater Prairie-Chickens.  A local guide will lead an overnight trip observe the annual mating dance of these prairie grouse.

Registration fees include transportation, lodging, supper, and breakfast. Rooms are double occupancy – single participants may need to share rooms. Space limited. Moderate walking will be involved on uneven terrain.

Thursday, March 21 (leave 4:00 pm)-Friday, March 22 (return to hotel 12:00 noon)

$225/person ($235/person after Feb. 15) - Because of trip's popularity, fee is not refundable.

Prairie Grouse Viewing Trip – Calamus Outfitters

Calamus Outfitters 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). The next morning, guests will be treated to a sunrise trip to a display area of greater prairie-chickens. After breakfast, the group will birdwatch around Calamus Reservoir before returning to Kearney.

Fee includes transportation, supper, breakfast, lodging, and chicken tour. Space limited.

Friday, March 22 (leave 3:30 pm)-Saturday, March 23 (return to hotel 12:00 noon)

Sunday, March 24 (leave 3:30 pm)-Monday, March 25 (return to hotel 12:00 noon)

$225/person ($235/person after Feb. 15) - Because of trip's popularity, fee is not refundable.

Legends and Stories ― The Changing Ecology of the Great Plains

Join Rowe Sanctuary in partnership with the Willa Cather Foundation, Audubon Nebraska, and the Willa Cather Archives for an ecotourism event focused on Willa Cather’s "O Pioneers" and the complex ecosystem of central Nebraska.

The trip begins with a sunrise viewing of Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River in Rowe Sanctuary’s viewing blinds. Participants will then travel to Red Cloud, Nebraska, for tours of Cather-related sites in town, including Cather’s childhood home and the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie.

Trip includes transportation and lunch. Moderate walking will be involved on uneven terrain.

Friday, March 22 – 5:15 am-3:30 pm

$90/person ($100/person after Feb. 15)

How you can help, right now