Nebraska is home to the largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes in the world. In this week's One Tank Trip, we explore Crane Meadows Nature Center where the public can catch a breathtaking view of these unique birds.
Over half a million Sandhill Cranes will stop at the Platte River to rest and to eat leftover corn in the fields.
"It builds up their energy and stores fat," said Ted Schroeder, the volunteer Director of Crane Meadows.
They will add at least 20 percent to their body weight from this corn to help them on their journey to Canada, Alaska, even Siberia. A migration pattern that was set a long time ago.
"Some types of crane's fossils have been found in this area that are believed to be 8-10 million years old," said Schroeder.
Although the Cranes are the main attraction right now, Crane Meadows offers many opportunities to observe and learn about other wildlife.
"You will find deer, skunk, and ducks and geese line the sky every morning," said Schroeder.
The facility is a nature lover's paradise with seven miles of trails through a 240-acre prairie.
"We have a nature trail, a viewing center, and a pedestrian bridge," said Schroeder.
They even offer educational videos and bring in people to speak every day.
"These are professionals in their field. We have professors come and speak about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Oregon Trail," said Schroeder.
And while one could spend an entire day here, taking in the beauty, Schroeder says this facility has a higher purpose.
"We teach the younger generation to be good stewards of the land and to take care of the wildlife we have here," said Schroeder.
Tickets can range from $3 to $25 and you need to make reservations for the guided tours only. Call (308) 382-1820 to contact the Crane Meadow Center. They will be able to answer any questions.
After a day of nature and learning, you can stop by their fully stocked gift shop that has everything from stuffed cranes to Nebraskan made pickled asparagus.