Spring Magic in Nebraska

(March 29 – April 1, 2019)

Sandhill crane migration - Nebraska

Each spring, more than 80 percent of the world’s population of sandhill cranes converges on Nebraska’s Platte River Valley.  Along with them come millions of migrating ducks and geese in the neighboring Rainwater Basin—covering the vast expanse of open sky with millions of flapping wings and a chorus of calls. At the same time, in the grasslands of Nebraska, male sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie chickens are vying for the attention of hens. Their raucous lek displays include clucks, whoops, gobbles, exposed tail coverts and balloon-like air sacs flashing orange and yellow. Get ready for spring magic in Nebraska!

Itinerary

Day 1 (Fri, March 29) – Denver to Alda ~ Morning departure from Denver for drive to Alda, Nebraska with birding en route. At 4 pm, we’ll check in for our VIP Experience with the Crane Trust. Our VIP Experience includes two private blind sessions in a the heated Pietrok blind, at the site of the Platte River’s largest sandhill crane roost. Watch as thousands of cranes return to their roost along the Platte River this evening. Our day ends with the opportunity to visit with Crane Trust staff and conservation experts.

Accommodations: Crane Trust’s Cottages

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Day 2 (Sat, March 30) – Alda to Switzer Ranch Prairie Reserve ~ Wake up early this morning for another private blind session at Crane Trust. After breakfast, we’ll spend time birding along the Platte before heading to Switzer Ranch Prairie Reserve located near the town of Burwell, Nebraska. The American Bird Conservancy has described Nebraska’s Sandhills as “the best grassland bird place in the US”. Switzer Ranch is a traditional ranch in the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska that employs modern, cutting edge stewardship practices to conserve native prairie and the wildlife it supports.  Switzer is one of the first ranches in the area to explore ecotourism.

Accommodations: Switzer Ranch

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3 (Sun, March 31) – Switzer Ranch Prairie Reserve ~ Today begins early with a visit to a greater prairie chicken or sharp-tailed grouse lek on the ranch. Trip participants will be treated with outstanding dancing displays by males as they try to move up in the social hierarchy and gain the attention of hens. After breakfast, explore the neighboring Sandhills during a guided 4×4 Jeep tour while learning firsthand why these grasslands are globally significant.

Accommodations: Switzer Ranch

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 (Mon, April 1) – Switzer Ranch Prairie Reserve to Denver ~ We’ll have another early start today with another visit to a lek on the ranch. Travelers will have the opportunity to visit a sharp-tailed grouse lek and a greater prairie chicken lek during their stay at Switzer Ranch. After breakfast at the ranch, head back to Denver with birding en route.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Price: $1250 per person based on double occupancy.

Single accommodations are subject to availability. Contact us for details on availability and pricing.

Inclusions: accommodations, all meals starting with lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 4, transportation in a 12-passenger van (Ford Transit or similar), full-time driver/guide, local staff at Crane Trust and Switzer Ranch, and entrance fees.

Exclusions: travel insurance, gratuities for staff at Crane Trust and Switzer Ranch, and items of a personal nature.

Group size: 6-8 participants

Trip Leader: Sheridan Samano (Reefs to Rockies)

Plan to depart north Denver by 7:30 am on March 29 and return around 6 pm on April 1.

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