Weather aside, migrating sandhill cranes are arriving in Nebraska.
Monday morning’s temperature in Kearney, Neb., was the same as ours, 5 below. The snow cover was much the same.
There are cranes in the area, though, with an aerial survey last week finding about 14,000 birds. As many as 600,000 cranes will pass through the area.
Cody Wagner, habitat manager at Rowe Sanctuary, on Monday did not sound concerned about the weather.
“These birds nest in Alaska and Siberia,” he said. “They’re used to ice and snow.”
The biggest problem for the birds right now, he said, is a persistent north wind.
The birds don’t like to fly into the wind. It’s energy-expensive.
“If we get good winds from the south, the cranes will move,” Wagner said. “They’re getting antsy.”
Temperatures in the 40s and 50s, not predicted short-range, also would help, he said. Higher temps produce the thermals on which the cranes soar.
The cranes usually will spend about three weeks in Nebraska, refueling.
“Consider us a gas station,” Wagner said.
Sooner or later, he said, the weather will improve. He believes all crane-related events planned for visitors will go on as scheduled.
People planning to see the cranes should check with the sanctuary (1-308-468-5282) or the Kearney Visitors Bureau (1-800-652-9435) for current status.
Or, punch up rowe.audu bon.org/birds/crane-cam for a live video feed of the river and fields. You can watch for the cranes from your warm home.
Read Jim Williams’ birding blog at startribune.com/wingnut.