Connecting with Cranes

An experience at Rowe Sanctuary and the Crane Trust

Cranes Have Been Around For Ages

Many cultures have seen cranes and been inspired by their elegance and graceful flight. Traditional Japanese culture views them as wise, signs of prosperity, and beings of longevity because of their long lifespans. Cranes adorn wedding kimonos in hopes of bringing success to the family.

Ancient Greeks said that when the god Hermes saw cranes flying, he was inspired by their gracefulness, and created the greek alphabet.

What Makes Cranes So Special?

Upfront, these birds can be sort of underwhelming. They're about 3-5 feet tall, and have a wingspan around 6 feet. Their calls, they have eight of them, can be heard from a mile away. Most people don't see them while they're on their migratory route, (from Texas and Mexico to even as far north as Siberia,) because they fly at an altitude around 4,000 feet. However, no matter where they're coming from, or where they're going, they stop to rest at an 80 mile stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska. It's here that Rowe Sanctuary is located. Where thousands of people come every year to watch 600,000 cranes on their journey north.

People Are Still Inspired Today

Visiting Rowe Sanctuary, it's easy to see how people were inspired by these birds. As dawn sheds it's light on the river, congregations of cranes appear huddled on the sandbars. Slowly, the raspy call of the few sentry cranes grows into a roar as the rest of the birds awake. A few will take wing, anxious to be in the air, and then circle back and land in the group.

As the morning progresses, the birds begin to dance. Gracefully lifting themselves into the air, flapping their wings, and dipping their heads. All at once, the cranes will suddenly launch themselves into the air in a liftoff that is truly awesome to see.

Seeing these magnificent birds interact in person was a great experience. We got to experience all their captivating behaviors first hand, and watching their world slowly shift from dark, to dawn, to day was intriguing as well. It was easy to understand how people have admired them throughout history.