Cranes at sunset

Cranes at sunset – courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

The 45th ANNUAL

ANCF logo2015

March 19-22, 2015
Kearney, Nebraska

Featured speaker: Author Scott Weidensaul will be the main speaker during the festival’s banquet Saturday evening. His presentation is titled “Owls: Soul of the Night.” See the “Schedule” tab above for information on this talk and other speakers on Saturday.

On-line registration is still available!

Please click here to go to the registration page. Click the Registration tab above for more information about the registration process.

New Field Trips Added (02/06/15):  You must be a festival registrant to add these field trips.  If you have previously registered you may now purchase these field trips and we will add them to your previous order.

  • Thursday, March 19 6:15 – 9:00 pm: Sunset on the Platte $5.00 (limit 50). Sandhill crane viewing from the windows at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary.
  • Friday, March 20 6:15 – 9:00 pm: Sunset on the Platte $5.00 (limit 50). Sandhill crane viewing from the windows at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary.
  • Friday, March 20 5:45 – 9:00 pm: Outdoor Crane Viewing $15.00. Sandhill crane viewing from the hiking bridge at Ft. Kearny Historical Park.  Half-mile walk to bridge, viewing followed by s’mores around the bonfire.

Although most of the scheduled field trips are full, there are still crane viewing opportunities in the area, a great line-up of speakers, exhibitors, activities for all ages, and a festival full of crane enthusiasts from around the country!

Get your hotel rooms soon! Kearney is very busy that weekend and spaces are filling up.

Non-profit organizations and for-profit vendors are welcome to have a booth at the festival. Click on the “Exhibitors” tab at the top of this page to download a registration form.

Witness tens of thousands of Sandhill cranes and millions of waterfowl migrating through central Nebraska during March, culminating in a festival hosted by Audubon Nebraska to celebrate their arrival. Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival has been celebrating this wildlife phenomenon for 44 years! Join fellow enthusiasts to learn more about the cranes, waterfowl, and other bird species by attending our concurrent sessions, visiting a crane viewing blind, and participating in one of our field trips.

History:  One of the nation’s longest-running wildlife festivals, the Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival began in 1971 in Grand Island as the “Spring River Conference” to raise awareness for the Platte River and its importance to the spring bird migration. It was geared for advocacy at the time and resulted in the formation of the Big Bend Audubon Society. The festival moved to Kearney when Rowe Sanctuary was purchased in 1974. The festival has had a few name changes and for several years it was the Rivers and Wildlife Celebration.

Current festivals focus on wildlife and environment education in general, with family-friendly activities and famous field trips to crane blinds along the Platte River and bird migration stopovers in central and southern Nebraska. Roger Tory Peterson, Julie Zickefoose, Bruce Babbitt, and Jane Goodall are some of the well-known attendees from past celebrations, as well as respected photographers Thomas Mangelsen, Joel Sartore, and Michael Forsberg.

For information on future festivals, call Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, (402) 797-2301, or e-mail Audubon Nebraska. For information on viewing the sandhill crane migration, call Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, (308) 468-5282.

Can’t wait to see the cranes? View the Rowe Sanctuary Crane Cam, which is active from mid-February to early April.

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