Ancient flyways, glaciers, and indigenous people

We drove five hours west last weekend to watch the Sandhill Cranes. They stop along a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska to rest and feed in preparation for their flight to their northern nesting grounds. We arrived on Saturday evening and then woke up early the next morning, drove to Wood River, Nebraska, and parked at a bridge over the Platte on Alda Road. The view to the east was spectacular as the Sandhills swarmed out of the river to glean from nearby corn fields. You can watch the cranes online as well, in season, of course, on the Rowe Sanctuary Crane Cam.

These cranes have been migrating back and forth between their nesting grounds and wintering areas for millenia. In fact according to Volz (2003) this species has lived on Earth for about 2.5 million years.

Interesting to note also that the last glacier covered north and central Iowa about 12,000 to 15,000  years ago; the first humans appeared on the scene about 13,000 years ago so the first Native Americans would have been in Iowa while the last glacier was receding from our area.

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