In the predawn hours of an early Saturday in April, cars creep quietly along a gravel road south of the Platte River’s main channel. For the last half hour, the dark sky has nibbled away at the edge of the full moon above, the lucky occurrence of a rare lunar eclipse.

It’s possible to appreciate the Nebraska Sandhills through a car window. Until a few years ago, that was about as close as I’d been to the grass-stabilized sand dunes that cover a quarter of our state. That’s because up in ranch country, the majority of the landscape is privately owned. As much as I wanted […]

It’s hard for a rancher to intentionally start a grass fire, especially in the Sandhills. And there are good reasons for that. But life seems to be a lot about the friends you choose to have. It’s no different for ranchers. Our friends are critters, great and small. On the domesticated side, our social circle […]

Few modern species can lay claim to older origins than the sandhill crane. Each spring, 80 percent of the mid-continent population spends a few weeks along the central stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska. But this unprecedented concentration of birds on the Platte represents a challenged ecosystem.

Twice a year, the world’s largest remaining wild population of endangered whooping cranes makes the 2,500-mile journey between breeding grounds in Canada’s Northwest Territories and wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast, using the Great Plains as their migratory corridor. Biologist are tracking these rare birds to learn more about their migration.

A community works to conserve wildlife habitat along the central Platte River in Nebraska.

Wet meadows are groundwater-fed wetlands within larger grassland environments. Along the Platte…

Last October, on the day before Halloween, I set out on a kayaking trip down the Elkhorn River in search for signs of the North American river otter. I went with Craig Allen, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Natural Resources, his colleagues David Angeler and Dirac Twidwell, and Nathan Bieber, a […]

On a warm, sandy beach near Ashland, Neb., biology intern Lindsay Brown picks up a small mottled egg and holds it to her ear, listening for telltale scratching. Hearing nothing, she places it back into its nest—a small hollowed patch of sand. It’s a hot July afternoon, near the end of the nesting season, and she’s checking least tern and piping plover nests for late bloomers.

On a beautiful August morning, the sun penetrated through the clouds and reflected off the mucky water as I trekked through a slough on Shoemaker Island, a wet meadow adjacent to the Platte River in central Nebraska. I followed staff and interns with the Crane Trust to check on small mammal traps that were placed […]