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Sandhill Cranes
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Nebraska is blessed with abundant, diverse wildlife and habitat.  Nebraska is a biological crossroads of North America where prairie meets ponderosa pine forests, where wetlands speckle the landscape and over 23,000 miles of rivers and streams ribbon through the landscape.  The vast grasslands of the Sandhills stretches the imagination to pioneer days while the pine ridge escarpments tower over the landscape.  Nebraska is the place where plant and wildlife communities of different regions meet, giving the state a rich diversity of wildlife viewing opportunities.

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(Ralphs Video)

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Peregrine Falcons at the Capitol

This is the fourth year that the Peregrine Pair has successfully hatched eggs. Peregrine falcons were first observed at the State Capitol when a lone male was seen in August 1990. Peregrine falcons almost disappeared from the lower 48 states following World War II because of eggshell thinning caused by the pesticide DDT. In 1970, the falcon was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Recovery efforts, including the release of falcons at tall buildings in urban areas, were successful. By the late 1990s, peregrine falcon numbers recovered and the species was removed from the list of endangered species in 1999.
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Watch the Kestrels on the Kestrel Web Cam

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has an American Kestrel nest box on the north side of the headquarters building in Lincoln, Nebraska. We have placed a small video camera 3/4" diameter x 2 1/2" long in the top of the nest box.

Last year, a pair of American Kestrels successfully fledged young from this location. In early April 2009, a female kestrel laid 3 eggs in the nest box. She may lay 1 to 2 more before the month-long incubation.

Viewing Spring migration

Cranes are among the oldest living birds on the planet. Fossil records place Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska more than nine million years ago, long before there was a Platte River, which, by comparison, is only a youthful 10,000 years of age. The landscape then was savanna-like and its inhabitants were more like that of modern East Africa; varieties of rhinos, camels, and elephants long since extinct. Yet cranes survived and watched as American bison, pronghorn, and wapiti evolved on the prairies. Humans now dominate the landscape having replaced the bison with cattle and the prairie with corn and concrete. This startling transition occurred in less than 150 years, a mere blink of an eye in geologic time!

Where do you look for specific wildlife?

Nebraska is blessed with abundant wildlife. The menu on this page is a partial listing of some of the most common wildlife you will encounter while exploring Nebraska's wildlife areas, parks or just driving down a rural road.

WildLife Species Guide - identify wildlife you are seeing using the guide. Nebraska is blessed with abundant wildlife. The menu on this page is a partial listing of some of the most common wildlife you will encounter while exploring Nebraska's wildlife areas, parks or just driving down a rural road.

Todd Nordeen - Wildlife Division Panhandle District Manager has some suggestions for catching a glimpse of western Nebraska wildlife, in particular the Big Horn sheep.

At Fort Robinson – Smiley Canyon road/parking areas, Mexican canyon lookout, Soldier Creek road, and the numerous hiking and horseback trails.  Fort Robinson WMA parking area. 

Peterson WMA, Chadron State Park overlook and hiking/horseback trails, Cedar Canyon WMA, Montz Point WMA,  Pine Ridge National Forest trails,  all provide excellent opportunities to engage in great wildlife viewing. To get a good preview of what the area looks like check out the Panhandle Photo Gallery

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