Crane Season

Photo: Sandhill Cranes. Photo: Jocelyn Anderson.

Every March, over a million Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska to fuel up before continuing north to their nesting grounds. Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary is at the heart of this magnificent crane staging area.

Rowe Sanctuary offers daily guided tours at sunrise and sunset to view the spectacular concentrations of Sandhill Cranes on their river roosts from new discovery stations strategically placed along the Platte River close to Sandhill Crane roosts. Nature enthusiasts, bird lovers, and photographers will have multiple ways to experience this historic migration.  

Rowe Sanctuary will begin accepting reservations for its 2023 crane viewing opportunities on Wednesday, January 4 at 9:00 am CST. Reservations may be made online or by calling 308-468-5282.

Please understand that our phone lines are limited, we highly recommend reserving online for best results.

Photo: Sandhill Cranes. Credit: Don Berman.

Online Crane Cam

Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary features one of the most intimate and spectacular views of the sandhill crane migration that occurs along the Platte River in Nebraska. The five mile stretch of river covered by this camera is one of the most densely populated sandhill crane roosts in the world with 100,000-200,000 cranes at the height of migration. Groups of cranes stay around three weeks once they arrive to this location and the best times to view them on the river is early mornings and evenings. The morning liftoff either happens slowly, with smaller groups of cranes leaving as the sun continues to rise, or more frequently with tens of thousands of sandhill cranes leaving all at once in a cloud that blots out the sky. Sandhill cranes return to the river in the evening to spend the night on the river’s shallow sandbars. Groups of cranes pour into the river silhouetted by the setting sun as they dance and socialize before falling asleep. 

Watch the migration from our free online Crane Cam!

Rowe Sanctuary Trails

Crane SeasonMarch and April

During Crane Season, some Rowe trails will have limited access to protect the birds from disturbance while on the roost.

Open trails will only be available from the time that the cranes leave the river in the morning (usually around 10:00 am) until 4:00 pm. Trails will be clearly marked as to whether they are open or closed. The Iain Nicolson Audubon Center is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. During Crane Season access to the grounds is restricted outside of these times.

Outside of Crane Season, Rowe’s trails and parking lot are open from dawn to dusk every day.

Keep checking back for crane season updates or subscribe to our eNews!

Please be aware all tours are subject to cancellation and refunds will be available if Covid-19 safety precautions change our scheduling.

We will be evaluating local conditions throughout the crane migration in order to determine the extent that Rowe Sanctuary’s public events and crane viewing opportunities can take place. The safety of our staff, volunteers, and guests are the utmost priority.We will be working with our local health department, Two Rivers Public Health Departmentthe state of Nebraska and the National Audubon Society as guidance on our safety procedures. 

Birds of Rowe Sanctuary

Sandhill Crane

Latin:  Antigone canadensis

Illustration for Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane

Latin:  Grus americana

Illustration for Whooping Crane

Piping Plover

Latin:  Charadrius melodus

Illustration for Piping Plover

Least Tern

Latin:  Sternula antillarum

Illustration for Least Tern

Bald Eagle

Latin:  Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Illustration for Bald Eagle

Bobolink

Latin:  Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Illustration for Bobolink

Dickcissel

Latin:  Spiza americana

Illustration for Dickcissel

Bell's Vireo

Latin:  Vireo bellii

Illustration for Bell's Vireo

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