Crane Trust explores crane habitats

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Updated: Mon, 21 Oct 2013 02:24:24 CST

Nebraska is the heart of Sandhill Crane country and it takes a small army to ensure their time in the Cornhusker State is safe and secure.

On Friday, a group of researchers met for the 2nd annual research symposium at the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center in Wood River.

This ongoing research is crucial to the cranes' well-being.

Every March hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes descend upon Nebraska to rest and feed as they migrate north for the summer.

"They're captivating to everyone, you don't have to be in this profession to get that sense of awe that the cranes bring." Said Greg Wright, Wildlife Biologist with the Crane Trust.

In order for the Crane Trust and other organizations to effectively manage crane habitats, they must understand how the birds use it.

"The Central Platte River is sort of the big rock concert for cranes in the world." Said Mike Forsberg a conservation photographer.

Mike Forsberg is conducting a time lapse photography project that spans the entire Platte River Basin.

"It's the single most important habitat for these birds anywhere in the world." Said Forsberg.

The project illustrates the water level changes over a year in the Platte River in a matter of seconds.

"We are able to see how the roosts for these birds change over a season based on how water levels change, based on how the sand underneath is shifting and changing over time."

From drought to flood, the Crane Trust says it's too early to know the effects of the recent Platte River flooding, but they expect a positive outcome.

"Those flood waters scoured the river channels and removed some of the vegetation that had come into the river channels during the drier periods ."

Which will help open up the natural habitat for roosting come night fall.

Sandhill Cranes are just beginning to make their trek south for the winter, though on this voyage they will not make a stop in Nebraska. You'll have to wait until next March to get a glimpse of the birds.