Thousands of travelers armed with binoculars and birding books head to Nebraska each spring for the opportunity to spy more than 300 species. From late February through early April, it’s a magical sight when more than half a million sandhill cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River. Traveling from southern wintering grounds, they stop along the Platte to rest and recuperate before heading to northern breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. In addition to the spectacular cranes, these upcoming events are sure to lure even more nature lovers:
Great Backyard Bird Count, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Scottsbluff, Feb. 15-16
Bird watchers of all ages are invited to participate in this international citizen science project that helps provide a real-time snapshot of worldwide bird populations. The information gathered helps scientists understand bird population trends, information that is critical for effective conservation.
The 25th Annual Wings Over the Platte Art Show & Sale, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Feb. 17-March 1
This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the nation’s largest exhibits dedicated to the Platte River—Wings Over the Platte. Showcasing the beauty and wonder of life in the Platte River Valley, the art exhibit and sale features awe-inspiring images of the wildlife, waterfowl and stunning landscapes of the river and its tributaries.
Marsh Madness at Ponca State Park, Ponca, March 9 & 10, 16 & 17 and 23 & 24
The abundant natural areas of Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska spring to life and provide ample opportunities for travelers to celebrate the spring migration of waterfowl. Park officials will offer guided waterfowl tours, unguided bald eagle tours and several birding programs.
Crane Watch Festival, Various Locations, Kearney, Minden and Gibbon, March 22-31
The Crane Watch Festival honors its annual migratory guests with fun-filled educational and family activities, entertainment and communitywide events in Kearney, Minden and Gibbon. Guided and self-guided crane viewing opportunities are also available.
White Pelican Homecoming Celebration, Harlan County Reservoir, Alma, March 22-30
Birders on the lookout for something new will be inspired by the white pelicans that stop to feed along the shore of the 13,000-acre Harlan County Reservoir every March. The White Pelican Homecoming Celebration welcomes the pelicans back to the community with the Paradise on the Prairie Art and Photography Show, birding boat tours, nature-based poetry readings, an indoor beach party and more.
Image courtesy Nebraska Tourism Commission