Each spring, sandhill cranes communally roost in the braided channels of the Platte River in central Nebraska. The river channel’s shallow areas and in-stream bare sandbars provide protection from predators, allowing the cranes to rest overnight.
The first set of cranes to arrive in the evening roost upstream. As more flocks spiral to the river, cranes fill in further downstream.
When water levels are low, the cranes spread out along the river, as more shallow waters and sandbars become available.
As more cranes arrive in the central Platte and water levels increase, crane roost become denser.
Hawks and eagles frighten the cranes, disrupting their normal resting time.
At dusk, cranes start to fly to the Platte River’s wide channel.
An orange sunburst in the royal blue sky creates a perfect silhouette of cranes at rest.
After roosting, cranes slowly depart from the river channel for their daytime routine.
In the morning, cranes leave the river to feed in adjacent cornfields and wetland habitats.
At low water levels, cranes are spread out utilizing the bare sandbars and shallow waters, while keeping their distance from the river bank where risk of predation increases. At high water levels, roosting density increases due to less available shallow water areas
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