Friday, March 16, 2012

Sandhill Cranes Drink Kool Aid while Dancing with Richard Simmons

Ahh, spring is in the air, the grass is getting greener, flowers are blooming, and the weather is getting warmer.

Georgia spring.

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 spring.

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.


  1. This story is sooooo interesting, " I didn't know that". Boy Tumbleweed, you're whipping out those confessions like a Catholic on death row. Keep up the good work

    1. hee hee. There's just so much out there to see and tell about. I know just how Richard Simmons feels.

  2. I know I should appreciate those birds from a zoological standpoint, but I just can't. I'm glad someone's making use of the leftover corn, so that's something, I guess. But every time I hear a bird overhead I just know it's going to poo on my head - I must've had a bad experience in a past life. It really kind of stresses me out. I'd never get a moment's rest in Nebraska.

    1. Maybe you were a statue in a previous life? Yes, you might as well just cross off Nebraska completely then.

  3. to robyn up there...when i was just a kid...minding my own business...walking down what we used to call "dog doo lane' on my way to elementary school...a bird pooped right on the top of my head! thanks for the memory. eeeeeww. ha.

    tumbleweed..WOW!! what do they call a BUNCH of cranes? a gaggle? nope. a flock? nope. they are a sedge...or a seige. that sounds either mucky...or aggressive.
    colts? baby flying horses?! now THAT would be a load of poop dropping from the sky!

    ok...enough. i'm getting carried away.
    i LOVE the noise those cranes make when flying...we have a pretty good number of them making a pit stop in Gville too. and did you know that it was here in the land of orange & blue where GATORade was invented!


    1. Dog doo AND bird doo lane, huh??

      I did not know that; I think I like seige the best. That many at once certainly seems like one.

      I knew the Gatorade thing though, being a native from just around the corner and all. ;)

  4. While I have never actually scene one in the wild, in person, I've heard that there isn't a more majestic looking creature than a Richard Simmons.

  5. Those short-shorts are truly awe inspiring!

  6. Gee-whiz, I stopped here a few days ago to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award, but then got so carried away with all that crane info. that I never got around to leaving a comment. Anyway, so now you know! And you DO inspire me with all your wild tales of ridin' around the country looking for interesting things and presenting all of it in hilarious fashion. Good job!

    I mostly got stuck on Michael Forsberg's website. Beautiful photographs and wonderful mission to better inform us about the prairies so that they might be preserved.

    I'll admit that I am biased against Kool-ade - my mother would not let me have it because she said it was just flavored, colored, sugar water. I think she might have been correct...

    Richard Simmons - how did he even get into this post? Oh, that's right - dancing cranes. Well, I'm sure that's where he belongs...

    1. Isn't his photography beautiful and lush? I asked for permission to use some of the pics, but they denied it. Oh well, I wouldn't want to give away my hard work either I suppose.

      Thanks for the award and inspiration!


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