Rebekah’s fever finally started to break and stay low enough to get out a bit. And by “get out” I mean drive around. After all, we didn’t want to overwhelm her. We had been wanting to drive around to the cornfields and river to look for sandhill cranes, so we packed up and set out.
Most of the cranes have already continued on with their migration, but we still saw quite a few rummaging in the cornfields. Going out every spring to see the cranes is a favorite family tradition of mine. Some years, like today, we just casually drive the highways, scanning the shaven cornfields for the tall, grey birds. Other years, we take nature hikes or even hole up in a blind near the Platte River in hopes of watching them lightly come in to roost.
They are such graceful birds with their long elegant legs and necks. I love rolling down my window and just listening to them chatting away with their purr-like calls. Sandhill and whooping cranes have not only captured the attention and interest of scientists–they have inspired numerous works of art, many of which you can see if you stop by the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center. There is also a research center nearby, but that is by appointment only. The Crane Trust recently reintroduced genetically-pure buffalo back into the neighboring prairie preserve. Hopefully, this will help restore the ecosystem back to what it once was, at least in a limited area.
The weather turned cold and blustery on us, ruining any chances of a walk. But my dad and I did march a few hundred feet to view the river and catch sight of a duck family, the chicks now practically adolescents. 😉
I am grateful to my parents for upholding family traditions that encouraged my appreciation of nature. And, I hope that more families take the time to teach their children to appreciate God’s beautiful creation. As we walked around the Crane Trust museum, gallery, and gift shop afterwards, I realized that engaging our children in learning and appreciating the natural world stimulates creativity–art, music, photography, poetry–and encourages scientific exploration and curiosity, as well as an interest and understanding of conservation.
If you are interested in learning more about the cranes, check out these resources: