Where Do Cranes Sleep at Night?

November 26, 2023

Sandhill cranes fly in from all over the world to sleep on the Platte River in Nebraska during the night. They’re a sight to see, especially at sunset and sunrise. Their calls are also heard for miles around.

Cranes are one of the most intelligent and social species of birds. They live on most continents and are mostly solitary during the breeding season, but in nonbreeding seasons they’re gregarious and form large flocks. Like geese and swans, they’re monogamous, with male and female birds choosing their partners for life and sharing parenting duties.

They’re incredibly adaptable, too. In fact, their unique feet have even helped them adapt to terrestrial living. The reduction of the hind toe allows them to stand upright on land and forage more efficiently. This adaptation is the result of natural selection over millions of years of random mutations.

Most cranes roost at night in shallow water, usually balancing on one leg with their heads and necks tucked over or under a shoulder. The roost site should have plenty of open space, be close to water and not be too crowded by other cranes. This gives the cranes a sense of safety and allows them to keep an eye out for any potential predators.

During the spring migration, sandhill cranes gather in tens of thousands to sleep in the Platte River during their journey through Nebraska. They are one of the most spectacular wildlife shows to be seen, and Lodi is a great place to see them. The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve and Cosumnes River Preserve are favored viewing locations, giving you front row seats to a birding phenomenon you won’t find anywhere else in the country.


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