Crane Meadows is a 12-acre recreation of the Platte River where 24 Sandhill Cranes and four Trumpeter Swans call home. It features a marsh-like area and large sandbar, similar to those found in the sandhill areas of Western Nebraska. This area is also inhabited by other native wildlife, such as ducks, geese and shore birds.
Sandhill Cranes are a large and primarily grey bird with a red-skin forehead and white cheeks. They average from eight to 10 pounds, stand three- to five-feet tall and have a wingspan ranging from five to seven feet.
They are a migratory bird, ranging from northeastern Siberia to Cuba. Currently, there are around 650,000 Sandhill Cranes in the wild – and numbers are rising.
More than 250 Sandhill Cranes can be seen at about 40 zoos across North America. This number includes five subspecies: Lesser, Florida, Mississippi, Canadian and Greater Sandhill Cranes. This species is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.
Fun Fact: A large number of Sandhill Cranes migrate through the Sandhills of Western Nebraska.
Trumpeter Swans are the largest waterfowl found in North America, averaging 25 to 35 pounds with a wingspan of up to eight feet. They are covered in white plumage and sport a black bill, face and legs.
They can be found in Alaska down through central North America in freshwater marshes, ponds and lakes.
About 120 Trumpeter Swans can be found in about 40 zoos across North America. Several of these zoos, mostly in the Midwest region, participate in reintroduction programs with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. These programs involve breeding the birds in captivity for release into the wild. Thanks to programs like these, this species is now list as least concern on the IUCN Red List.
Fun Fact: The Trumpeter Swan was heavily hunted in the 19th and 20th centuries, as their large flight feathers were sought after for making quill pens.