Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Preparing for a Guided Crane Viewing Tour

A guided crane tour gives you the chance of viewing the gathering of over 400,000 sandhill cranes along Nebraska's Platte River. This is an experience like no other on the planet. The experience is far more enjoyable -- for both you and your fellow crane-watchers -- if you prepare properly for your tour. The following brief article offers some general guidelines. Please note it applies to viewing tours (blind and footbridge), not to the private photographic blinds.

Clothing: March and early April in Nebraska is often cold, especially while sitting still in an unheated blind or standing on the footbridge for two hours. Bundle up accordingly: gloves, hats, thick socks, thermal undergarments are just a few items you should wear. Rule of thumb: Pretend the air temperature is at least 20 degrees colder than the thermometer reading, and dress for that temperature. A cold wind blowing -- a frequent occurrence here -- will give the air an additional bite. Rain gear is a plus in wet weather. We can't emphasize strongly enough: Please dress warmly and appropriately.

Binoculars and spotting scopes: Strongly recommended if you have them. Tripods for spotting scopes are permitted if space allows. Your guide may have a spotting scope for viewing, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Photo and video equipment: You may certainly take video and still images, but with some caveats. In particular, flash photography is not allowed under any circumstances; the cranes have been scared off their roosts on more than one occasion by a thoughtless flash. Even preview screens can cast enough light on a person's face to make a crane think twice about sticking around. Again, tripods are permitted if room allows, but please respect your fellow viewers and their space.

Reaching viewing locations: Viewing blinds and the footbridge require a walk of up to 1/2 mile to reach. In the case of blinds, this walk is over rough terrain. (The footbridge is wheelchair-accessible.) In addition, viewing blind tour participants caravan in their own vehicles to the blinds (though carpooling is possible).

Weather (and other) cancellations: March snowstorms make occasional visits to the Cornhusker State. Tours are cancelled only if any portion of Interstate 80 between North Platte (on the west) and Lincoln (east) is closed. We will do our best to inform participants when tours are cancelled. Otherwise, all tours are held as scheduled. Cancellations from participants require a minimum of 24 hours notice.

Not permitted on crane-viewing tours: Flashlights, children under 12, pets, cellphones and other electronic communication devices. In case of emergency, your guide will have a cellphone available.

Other considerations: Tours start promptly; please be on time, as we cannot wait for latecomers.


We're looking forward to leading you on a great viewing experience! If you have any questions about preparing for a crane-viewing tour, please contact us at info@nebraskanature.org or call 308-382-1820.


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