From late February through early April...millions of waterfowl converge across south-central Nebraska on their annual migration north. Sandhill and Whooping Cranes...along with many varieties of geese and ducks...use farm fields and Nebraska’s river basins and wetlands as a "pit stop" on their journey north. The cranes and waterfowl are most numerous in the Central Flyway along the Platte River Valley between Lexington and Grand Island.
How does this convergence of birds relate to the weather? Their arrival does mark the transition to Spring weather...and by late March and early April...they do take advantage of the return of warm south winds in the atmosphere to aid in their flight north.
One aspect the folks in meteorology deal with during the migration is the increase in what we call "clutter" on radar displays. Due to their larger size...the waterfowl create a large "target" that appears on radar. Not only do we have larger "targets"...but when you add in the large numbers of birds...the radar screen gets quite busy...especially along the Platte River Basin and surrounding wetlands.
The brief animated graphic shows the birds in action during one afternoon last week. Note the continuous activity along the Platte River from near Elm Creek to Grand Island. "Bursts" of waterfowl are also noted tracking over Kearney from the Funk Waterfowl Production Area northeast of Holdrege...with other small "bursts" noted in the wetlands areas near Clay Center, Nebraska.