Some people regard Nebraska as flyover country – a state to be missed as you move from one coast to the other. We wholeheartedly disagree.
Every March, Nebraska becomes home to one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in North America. More than half a million Sandhill Cranes, the world’s largest congregation of cranes, converges on the Platte River Valley in Nebraska. Joining the Sandhill Cranes are another 20 million birds - waterfowl, shorebirds, and the endangered Whooping Crane. They stop to rest and refuel in the adjacent Rainwater Basin before continuing further north to their summer breeding grounds. So many birds are here during spring migration that vast expanses of open sky are filled with sounds of flapping wings and a chorus of calls.
At the same time, male Greater Prairie-Chickens gather at ancient breeding grounds and compete for the chance to mate in Nebraska’s prairie grasslands. Their raucous displays include stomping, booming, whooping, and sparring. With exposed tail coverts and balloon-like air sacs flashing orange and yellow, few performances in the bird world are more memorable than this dawn dance of chickens.
We’ll spend five days exploring Nebraska’s wildlife hotspots. We have strategically selected areas away from crowds so that we have the time and space to truly enjoy these wildlife spectacles in true Reefs to Rockies style. We’ll travel in a custom American safari van with a conversion pop-top and spacious seating. This is not the traditional passenger van you may have traveled in on past trips. This one-of-a-kind vehicle has been specially designed by two wildlife biologists to allow for optimal viewing. It makes a perfect ‘blind’ and there’s ample room for everyone to view at the same time.
Get ready for Spring Magic in Nebraska!
Reefs to Rockies Co-Founder Sheridan Samano is thrilled to guide this small group expedition to the Great Plains of Nebraska, one of the country’s most unexpected wildlife hotspots. The Great Plains, often referred to as the American Serengeti, are one of the most threatened, the most altered, and least protected habitats in the world. Sheridan's love for the Great Plains will be unmistakable as she takes you into the heart of what makes this region so special. Local guides will join us throughout making for an enriching and unforgettable wildlife experience.
The Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT), founded in 1998, creates and protects a network of shortgrass prairie preserves, ensuring a future for native flora and fauna. A donation to SPLT to aid in their land acquisition efforts will be made on behalf of all participants.
Morning departure from Denver for drive to Nebraska’s Platte River Valley with birding stops along the way. We’ll spend time this afternoon searching for cranes feeding in fields adjacent to the North Platte River. In the last hour of daylight, we’ll watch as flocks of cranes return to their nightly roost sites, our first introduction to the magnitude of this annual wildlife spectacle.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express and Suites - Ogallala