2015 Schedule

Please note:

Family-friendly activities and live animal shows in the Wild Experience Room on Saturday are free and open to the public.

Space is limited in the crane viewing river blinds at Rowe Sanctuary both Friday and Saturday during the Crane Festival. Make your trip reservations early! Note earlier start times for the blinds.

Registration forms must be completed online or postmarked by February 28 to receive early registration prices.

Thursday, March 19

7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Pre-Festival Full-Day Birding Trip -Update: This trip is full.

4:00 p.m.

Prairie Grouse Lek Viewing (returning 3:00 P.M. Friday) – Update: This trip is full.

5:30–9:00 p.m.

Sunset Crane Viewing Blind Trip

6:15-9:00 p.m.

Sunset on the Platte
Friday, March 20

5:30–9:00 a.m.

Sunrise Crane Viewing Blind Trip -Update: This trip is full.

6:45 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Harlan County Reservoir/Rainwater Basin Full-Day Birding Trip – Update: This trip is full.

7:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Rainwater Basin Half-Day Birding Trip with Scott Weidensaul – Update: This trip is full.

3:30–8:30 p.m.

Sandhill Crane Behavior and Viewing Blind Trip with Keanna Leonard, Rowe Sanctuary – Update: This trip is full.

5:30–9:00 p.m.

Sunset Crane Viewing Blind Trip – Update: This trip is full.

5:45-9:00 p.m.

Outdoor Crane Viewing

6:15-9:00 p.m.

Sunset on the Platte

7:30–8:30 p.m.

Museum of Nebraska Art event (see tab above for details)
Saturday, March 21

5:30–9:00 a.m.

Sunrise Crane Viewing Blind Trip – Update: This trip is full.

8:30–9:30 a.m.

Breakfast – Welcome message from Bill Taddicken, Rowe Sanctuary

10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

Wild Experience Room
Concurrent sessions: (morning)

9:30–10:20 a.m.

“Birding 101″ – Kent Skaggs (Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary) and Kevin Poague (Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center) – Basic birdwatching skills will be presented in the fun and informative program. Kent and Kevin will give tips on identification, provide advice on how to watch birds, and present equipment to help the beginner and advanced birdwatcher identify birds better.

9:30–10:20 a.m.

“Rainwater Basin Ecology, Management, and Migratory Birds Use on Mid-Latitude Stopover Sites” – Jeff Drahota (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) – This presentation will be specific to the Rainwater Basin area.  Topics cover include the overview of the landscape and climate, migratory bird use, wetland resources, threats and cumulative impacts, wetland availability, and estimating carrying capacity to monitor contributions to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

10:30–11:20 a.m.

“A Story of Raptor Rehabilitation: the Highs and Lows” – Jeanine Lackey (Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery) – Find out what’s involved in rescuing, treating and rehabilitating birds of prey- or the hawks, eagles, owls, falcons and vultures of Nebraska.  This session will enthrall you as we explain the highs and lows of treating rescued birds of prey. You’ll meet some of our education ambassadors – live raptors – where you can get an up-close, personal look at these amazing predators, learn about their natural history and special adaptations, and walk away with a new-found respect for these amazing creatures.

10:30–11:20 a.m.

“Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary and the Platte River – Four Decades of Conservation, Education, and Celebration” – Doreen Pfost – Doreen will discuss the work done by Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, other organizations, and individuals to protect habitat along the Platte River and to educate the public about the river’s importance to wildlife.  She will examine conservation efforts in the context of numerous proposed water development projects that threatened the river’s flows. In addition, she will talk about the process of uncovering this history and some of the research that remains to be done.

11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

“Prairie-Chicken Vocalization” – Cara Whalen (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) -Male greater prairie-chickens congregate in groups known as “leks” each spring to perform courtship displays to attract females. While at the leks, male birds produce vocalizations which range in function from mate attraction to territorial defense. During the springs of 2013 and 2014, male vocalizations were recorded at 14 leks near Ainsworth, Nebraska. These data will be used to help determine whether wind turbine noise interferes with the vocal communication of greater prairie-chickens.

11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

“Water for Birds – A Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Update” – Jason Farnsworth & Dr. Jerry Kenny (Platte River Recovery Implementation Program) – As the PRRIP enters its eighth full year of implementation, focus is shifting from land to water acquisition. This presentation will begin with a primer on central Platte River hydrology and target flows for endangered species habitat. We will then provide an update on water projects and progress toward achieving the PRRIP milestone of 130,000-150,000 acre-feet.

Lunch 12:30-2:00 p.m.

Lunch (served 12:30-1:30) – Speaker: Joseph Ryan, VP for Climate Change and Strategic Initiatives, NAS Climate Change, National Audubon Society (1:00-2:00) “Climate’s Impact on Birds and What You Can Do About it!” – Joe Ryan will lead Audubon’s newly implemented climate initiative. Ryan and his team will work closely with the policy office and leaders in the Audubon network to address the issues related to conservation in the face of climate change. Ryan’s experience in building out large conservation plans and his extensive background working internationally will guide Audubon as it begins to extend its conservation work across the hemisphere.

2:00-5:00 p.m.

Photography workshop with Adrian Olivera
Concurrent sessions: (afternoon)

2:00–2:50 p.m.

“Avoiding the Big Freeze: Herpetofaunal Strategies for Winter Survival” – Dan Fogell (Southeast Community College, Lincoln, Neb.) – The Great Plains can be an unforgiving place for wildlife, especially during winter. From the smallest of frogs to the largest of snakes, Nebraska’s amphibians and reptiles have a variety of adaptations and strategies to endure some of the harshest winter conditions in the continental United States.

2:00–2:50 p.m.

“Waters of the U.S.” – Stan Dart (Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Nebraska-Kearney) – The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed a rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal would revise regulations that have been in place for more than 25 years. The proposed rule has triggered substantial resistance from a wide range of interests especially regarding the proposed definition of “Waters of the United States.”

3:00–3:50 p.m.

“Manage, Measure, Repeat: Grassland Nesting Birds at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary” – Andrew Pierson (Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary) – It’s not all about cranes at Rowe Sanctuary. Situated in the center of a 900-acre native wet meadow, the Sanctuary provides important nesting habitat for many grassland nesting bird species. A new, volunteer ready, bird monitoring effort will both inform management decisions locally at Rowe and contribute data to Audubon’s flyway-scale Prairie Bird Initiative.

3:00–3:50 p.m.

“Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska” – Clint Rowe (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) – Professor Rowe will present a short overview of the science of climate change and then focus on observations of change that has already occurred and projections of change in the future, proceeding from a global perspective to a more regional/local one (i.e., central Plains and Nebraska).
Banquet 7:00-9:00 p.m. Banquet (served 7:00-8:00) Speaker: Scott Weidensaul (8:00-9:00) – “Owls: Soul of the Night” – Everyone loves the beauty, mystery and charm of owls, but science is still unlocking many of the secrets of owl biology and ecology. Join Scott Weidensaul, author of the forthcoming Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean, for an exploration of the weird and little-known world of these nocturnal hunters, and the exciting new discoveries being made not only about weird tropical species like the stygian owl, but even the most common and widespread owls in American backyards.
Sunday, March 22

5:30–9:00 a.m.

Sunrise Crane Viewing Blind Trip

7:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Rainwater Basin Half-Day Birding Trip
Breakfast 8:30-10:30 a.m. Breakfast (served 8:30-9:30)”Creativity in Conservation” – Marian Langan (9:30-10:30) Executive Director, Audubon Nebraska.

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