Sandhill cranes annual arrival boosts Kearney




As the “Sandhill Cranes Capitol of the World,” Kearney is no stranger to these large migratory birds – in fact, we may have even grown tired of them by now. Still, now more than ever, we cannot argue their importance economically; they are our greatest attraction.

The floods of last summer left Kearney and its surrounding areas underwater (which would be great for cranes, just not for us). This devastated local businesses: restaurants, stores and hotels especially. The revenue that comes from Crane watchers could be enough to counteract this. 

As far as tourism goes, the Nebraska State Speech Competition is the only thing that could contend with the number of people in Kearney at once. But that is a two-day competition, whereas Sandhill Cranes are a two-month event. With approximately 500,000 cranes migrating through our section of the Platte River each year, it is enough to bring in tourists from all over the globe, and this is done annually.

Without becoming overbearing or turning into a broken record, Kearney would do well to advertise these cranes; to campaign for them, even. 

We have found ourselves in a new era where activism, especially for nature and wildlife, has reached new heights. The migration of the Sandhill Cranes is one of the few left of its kind; taking place for hundreds of thousands of years and yet to be disturbed by human activity. Today, this alone is something that draw in an audience. A fresh audience too.

We need the cranes. They may not be awe-inspiring to locals anymore, but they are vital, nonetheless. If we were to approach them correctly and with the right point of view, perhaps we wouldn’t be frustrated when we say we are from Kearney and the next line of conversation is about cranes. Or the University. Or our flood damage. We know that we are much more than that, but when it comes to being economical, maybe we will find it best to go with the flow. Or to advocate, for that matter.