The Pioneers Park Nature Center invites the public to participate in two bird-themed wildlife viewing trips in spring 2018:
A Sandhill Crane Day Trip is scheduled from noon to 10:30 p.m. Friday, March 9. Space is limited, and the registration deadline is Friday, February 9.
Participants will meet at the Auld Pavilion in Antelope Park and travel to the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center in Wood River and the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary in Gibbon. The group will view and hear the cranes from a viewing blind as they arrive on the Platte River. The trip will also include periodic stops along country roads to view cranes as they feed and dance in the fields.
Sandhill Cranes are among the world's oldest living birds and have traveled through Nebraska for centuries. They are dependent on an 80-mile segment of the Platte River for a four- to five-week stopover because of the food and protection in the area. The cranes come from as far south as Mexico and will travel as far north as eastern Siberia to raise their young. Over half a million Sandhill Cranes will make their way through Nebraska this spring. Some of the best viewing is at sunset when the cranes flock by the thousands to spend the night at the river.
The program fee is $85 and includes transportation, dinner and viewing blind reservations. If the trip is cancelled, the $25 reservation fee for the viewing blind is nonrefundable. Participants must have the ability to walk uneven trails in low light.
A Greater Prairie Chicken Multi-Day Tour is scheduled for Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15. Registered participants will receive details about departures, arrivals and other activities.
Participants will experience the booming and dancing of the greater prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse during tours on the Switzer Ranch near Burwell. The event is hosted by Calamus Outfitters and includes bus transportation, two nights lodging, guided tours and meals.
Greater prairie chickens are a vulnerable species with declining numbers due to prairie habitat fragmentation and loss. Today, the populations of greater prairie chicken are isolated to the mixed grass prairies of the central U.S. Preservation and restoration of prairie habitat have been successful at stabilizing population numbers.
Known for their mating dance, greater prairie chickens display together in a gathering called a "lek." The male prairie chickens raise their ear tuft feathers, inflate the bright orange air sacks on their necks and stomp about to attract females. Similarly, the sharp-tailed grouse will display or dance to attract female grouse to their dancing grounds.
The program fee is $500 per person for double rooms, with single rooms available for an additional $75. Registration and a $250 deposit are required by January 5 (includes non-refundable $50 fee). The remaining balance is due by March 1. The deposit, minus the registration fee, is refundable until January 5. The paid balance, minus the deposit, is refundable until March 1. An optional jeep tour of the Switzer Ranch is available on Saturday for an additional $50 per person.
To register, or for more information, contact the Nature Center at 402-441-7895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the Pioneers Park Nature Center is available at parks.lincoln.ne.gov/naturecenter.