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Nebraska is home to one of North America's greatest wildlife phenomena

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Every spring, nearly a million sandhill cranes pass through an 80-mile stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska on their northward migration.

They've made this migration annually for thousands of years, but sandhill cranes - one of earth's oldest bird species - have been a part of the Nebraska landscape for millions of years.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe takes a road trip to Nebraska with wildlife biologist Jim Pease to witness hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes make an overnight stop on the Platte River at Fort Kearny State Historical Park.

Later, they venture out before sunrise to watch flocks of the cranes wake up and greet the day with Bethany Ostrum of The Crane Trust.

The Crane Trust protects and maintains nearly 10,000 acres of lowland tall grass prairie and wet meadows along the central Platte River so that it continues to function as a life support system for cranes and other migratory bird species.

They also spot an endangered whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, and one of about 800 left in the world.


  • Jim Pease, emeritus associate professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University
  • Bethany Ostrum, wildlife biologist, The Crane Trust
Sandhill cranes rise from the Platte River near Wood River, NE.
Jim Pease
Sandhill cranes rise from the Platte River near Wood River, NE.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.