Schedule

2014 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 20

7:00 am–3:00 pm
SOLD OUT!

Pre-Festival Full-Day Birding Trip

4:00 pm
SOLD OUT!

Prairie Grouse Lek Viewing (returning 3:00 pm Friday) – Due to trip’s popularity, the trip fee is non-refundable.

5:30–9:00 pm
SOLD OUT!

Sunset Crane Viewing Blind Trip
Friday, March 21

5:30–9:00 am

Sunrise Crane Viewing Blind Trip

6:45 am–3:00 pm

Full-Day Birding Trip

7:00 am–12:30 pm

Half-Day Birding Trip

3:30–8:30 pm
SOLD OUT!

Sandhill Crane Behavior and Viewing Blind Trip with Keanna Leonard, Rowe Sanctuary

4:00-8:00 pm

Photography Workshop featuring Eric Fowler from Nebraskland MagazineFollowing a brief indoor session that will look at his work and some basic photographic principles, the workshop will conclude with a hike along the Platte River to photograph whatever nature presents, including, if all goes well, another spectacular Nebraska sunset.

5:30–9:00 pm
SOLD OUT!

Sunset Crane Viewing Blind Trip

2:00-5:00 pm

NEW!  Crane Viewing Drive and Historic Tour
View cranes from the warmth of a Kearney Trolley with stops at historical sites and state recreation areas.
Saturday, March 22

5:30–9:00 am
SOLD OUT!

Sunrise Crane Viewing Blind Trip

8:30–9:30 am

Breakfast – Speaker: Keanna Leonard, Crane Behavior (8:45-9:15)
Concurrent sessions:

9:30-10:20 am

Jen Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln - “Assessing the effects of wind farms on Greater Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) in Nebraska”
Recent changes in Nebraska’s energy policy are encouraging the development of new wind farms across the state. Although wind farms are considered a ‘greener alternative’, there is increasing evidence that suggests that they may have both direct and indirect effects on wildlife. However, the effects that wind farms may have on Nebraska’s wildlife are poorly understood. Therefore, in 2013 we began to evaluate the effects of a pre-existing wind farm in Ainsworth, Brown County on Greater Prairie-Chickens (Tympanachus cupido), a  tier-1 listed species in Nebraska. We assessed the effects of the wind farm on nest and brood survival, breeding behavior, vocalizations, movements, predation risk, and food availability of Greater Prairie-Chickens. We present preliminary results from the first year of this study. Our results will be used to development wind farm siting guidelines that aim to minimize disturbance to this species of conservation concern.

9:30-10:20 am

Erv Nichols and Sandra Noll
“Migrating With the Sandhill Cranes”
This presentation documents a 6-month journey following Sandhill Crane migration from wintering grounds in new Mexico through the central flyway staging area in Nebraska to breeding grounds in Alaska, showcasing encounters with nature and wildlife along the way. Noll and Nichols weave facts and photographs into an entertaining tapestry of their relationship with this remarkable bird.

10:30-11:20 am

George Happ, Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Vermont -
“The first summer of Pi, a crane colt hatched in Alaska”

10:30-11:20 am

Larkin Powell, University of Nebraska-Lincoln“Hitler’s effect on wildlife populations in Nebraska”
The landscape in Nebraska changed dramatically following WWII.  Mechanization and synthetic ammonia improved farm profits, and opened the door to changes in types of crops, arrangements of fields, farm size, farmstead layouts, and the types of livestock that were grown in Nebraska.  What happened to populations of pheasants in Nebraska?  Ask Hitler.  It’s his fault.

11:30-12:20 pm

Kent Skaggs & Kevin Poague, Audubon Nebraska“Birding 101”

11:30-12:20 pm

Brian “Fox”Ellis, Foxtails International - Crane Tales: Storytelling as a Tool in Interpretation, Education, and Outreach”

12:30-2:00 pm

Lunch (served 12:30-1:30) Speaker: Gary Langham, VP & Chief Scientist, National Audubon Society (1:00-2:00) “Creating an Audubon Guide to Future Bird Ranges: Implications for North American Bird Conservation”Audubon scientists recently completed a groundbreaking analysis modeling the responses of North American birds to future climate change. Using extensive citizen science data and detailed climate layers, science staff developed models that characterize the relationship between the distribution of each species and climate. Then, these models were used to forecast species distributions to future time periods based on climate estimates described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This project resulted in more than 100,000 data layers which address three topics of general interest for broad-scale bird conservation: (1) the impact of climate change on bird diversity in North America; (2) identification of areas that are expected to remain important to birds, namely “no regrets” sites that are forecasted to remain climatically suitable from 2000–2080 for individual species and communities; and, (3) in-depth analyses of climate change impacts on priority species.

2:10-3:00 pm

Wayne Mollhoff“The Second Nebraska Breeding Bird Atlas Project”
An overview of bird atlas projects. There will be a discussion of how to interpret results. A comparison will be made of selected species in both projects. Additional discussion will include range shifts of birds over time.

2:10-3:00 pm

Mary Bomberger Brown, University of Nebraska-Lincoln“Where has all the road kill gone?”
An estimated 80 million birds are killed by colliding with vehicles on US roads each year, and millions more die annually in Europe and elsewhere. Losses to vehicles are a serious problem for which changes in roadway design and maintenance have been proposed. Given the magnitude of the mortality, we might expect natural selection to favor individuals that either learn to avoid vehicles or that have traits making them less likely to collide with vehicles. If so, the frequency of road kill should decline over time. No information is available for any species on whether the extent of road-associated mortality has changed. During a study of Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) in southwestern Nebraska, we found that the frequency of road-killed swallows declined sharply over the 30 years following the birds’ occupancy of roadside nesting sites and that birds killed on roads had longer wings than the population at large.

3:10-4:00 pm

Mary Harner, The Crane TrustA revealing look at sandhill crane behavior in wet meadow habitat
Wet meadows are an important component of the Platte River ecosystem and have long provided important habitat for sandhill cranes during spring staging. But as for how cranes were actually usingthis complex habitat, little was known, until now. In spring 2013, Crane Trust researchers placed 10 motion-sensitive, infrared cameras on Mormon Island to record crane behaviors up close and undisturbed, day and night. During the March-April period, over 60,000 individual crane behaviors were captured on wet meadows, sloughs and uplands managed under a variety of scenarios. The results of our analysis were often surprising and revealing. Herein we present a summary of those results, accompanied by stunning close-up imagery of sandhill cranes interacting with this dynamic landscape, enhanced by time-lapse photo editing technology. This groundbreaking study is advancing our understanding of the species and is also helping inform future management practices. We look forward to sharing it with you!

3:10-4:00 pm

Clem Klaphake, Hitchcock Nature Center“Raptor Migration in the Missouri Valley of Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa”
Every fall thousands of eagles, hawks, falcons and vultures migrate through the Missouri River valley from September through December.  Klaphake will be discussing the results of the last 12 years of documenting/counting the various species (18) of raptors and the numbers that pass through the valley at the Hitchcock Nature Center HawkCount – part of the Hawk Migration Association of North America.   Some are early and some are late migrants, some migrate short distances while others migrate long inter-continental distances and some come through in large numbers while others pass through as individuals.  In addition to counting there also is banding of raptors at the Hitchcock Nature Center and that will be discussed briefly as well.

10 am-3 pm

Wild Experience Room – Free and open to the public

4 pm-5:00 pm

Ice Cream Social – Back by popular demand!

6 pm – 7 pm

Cash bar

7:00-9:00 pm

Banquet (served 7:00-8:00) Speaker: Brian “Fox” Ellis (8:00-9:00) – “River Stories”
Sunday, March 23

5:30-9:00 am
SOLD OUT!

Sunrise Crane Viewing Blind Trip

8:30-9:30 am

Breakfast with Marian Langan, Executive Director, Audubon Nebraska

7:00 am-12:30 pm
SOLD OUT!

Half-Day Birding Trip

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