Of course spring comes at varying speeds in different parts of the country.
Nebraska, for instance, isn't very green or flowery right now, (or ever) but they do have a unique harbinger of spring: sandhill crane migration.
Nebraska's Platte River Valley, in the middle of the state, is a truck stop of sorts for hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes. From late February to early April, Nebraska is the place to be for as many as 600,000 of these leggy birds as they refuel on their trek to northern breeding grounds.
As we travel I-80 between North Platte and Grand Island, we can see thousands of them walking in the cornfields and swimming in the river. You don't notice them at first; their grey bodies blend into the surroundings. But when you do, it's like the ground comes alive with them and it's awesome.
The sandhill crane migration also brings in as many as 70,000 tourists each spring. Not too shabby for a state best known for um... *looks up Nebraska on the Google*....yes of course: Kool Aid.
Yesiree, in 1927 Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska invented the concentrated mix for Kool Aid, originally called Fruit Smack. Naturally, there's a Kool Aid Museum to visit after you look at all the birds.
Side note: I often yelled out "Hey Kool Aid!" and waited excitedly for a big, smiling red pitcher to burst through my bedroom wall as a kid, and it never happened. Not even once. Thanks for ruining my childhood, Nebraska! No wonder I couldn't remember anything about your state.
Anyway, as I was saying before the non-existent Kool Aid Pitcher burst through my writing, Nebraska has a lot of sandhill cranes in the spring.
Did you know?
☞80% of the world's population of sandhill cranes uses Nebraska's Platte River as a pit stop on their way north.
☞Sandhill cranes are omnivorous, eating plants and animals, but during their stay in Nebraska 90% of their diet consists of left over grain in corn fields.
☞Sandhill cranes average 200-300 miles of flying a day. And boy are thier arms tired, wocka wocka!
☞While refueling along the Platte River, sandhill cranes dance to relieve the stress of migration and strengthen pair bonds. Kind of like Richard Simmons.
☞Sandhill cranes mate for life and young ones often use the rest stop in Nebraska to find a partner. Richard Simmons doesn't have a partner*.
☞Baby sandhill cranes are called colts and I lied about them drinking Kool Aid.
☞Wanna see for yourself? Go to the Crane Cam and see it all live.
According to a Chicago Tribune interview with Richard Simmons, "There are sacrifices you have to make. I don't have a lot to offer one person. I have a lot to offer to a lot of people."
I kind of cheated you of really gorgeous photos, (Richard Simmons not withstanding) but I don't like to just take other people's hard work (again, Richard Simmons) especially artists.
So if you need a gorgeous photography fix go to Michael Forsberg's website.