Ask almost any American birder to associate Nebraska with a single bird species, and the likely response will be “cranes!” It is true that Nebraska’s Platte Valley annually hosts the largest concentration of sandhill cranes occurring anywhere in the world, a half-million or so, and is the most often used stopover point for whooping cranes between their wintering and breeding grounds.
Furthermore, Nebraska’s vast
interior Sandhills region, the size of several New England states
combined, hosts many increasingly rare grassland birds.
The northwestern Pine Ridge country is a Rocky Mountain ecosystem in miniature, with
golden eagles, prairie falcons, and many western forest birds. Our Niobrara and Platte Valleys are the
best documented meeting places and hybrid zones of eastern and western North American
bird faunas, and the Missouri Valley forests ring each spring and summer with the voices o
f such eastern birds as scarlet tanagers, whip-poor-wills, and chuck-will’s-widows.
Welcome to Nebraska, where both the horizons and bird diversity are endless.
– Paul A. Johnsgard