Seasons of Wildlife
Spring and Fall:
Birds from coastal areas of the United States and Mexico stop and rest in the Rainwater Basin area of Nebraska before traveling northward to their nesting grounds.
Ninety percent of the North American population of white-fronted geese, nearly 50% of the North American mallard population and 30% of the North American northern pintail population use the Rainwater Basin for rest and food.
Many types of shorebirds migrate through the area during April and May and again in August and September. Some common species include both greater and lesser yellowlegs, dowitchers, Wilson's phalarope, pectoral sandpiper, Wilson’s snipe, and peeps. Best viewing times are in May when drying wetlands expose insect- and plant-rich mudflats.
Endangered whooping cranes migrate through southern Nebraska in the spring and fall, using the wetlands during their migration.
From early March to mid-April, sandhill cranes concentrate along the stretch of the Platte River extending from Overton to Grand Island, Nebraska. The cranes, numbering about 600,000, stay for four to six weeks to feed on waste corn and insects. The braided river provides numerous protective sandbars for roosting. Birdwatchers from all over the world come to watch the birds return to the river each evening. Although the Service does not provide crane viewing blinds, other organizations do. Viewing opportunities can be obtained from Lillian Annette Rowe Sanctuary and The Crane Trust.
Spring and Summer:
Wading birds also use the area because of the shallow wetland depths and abundance of food. Throughout the spring and summer months, great blue heron, cattle egret, snowy egret, great egret, black--crowned night-heron, white-faced ibis, and American bittern can be found.
A bird list for the District is available showing the different times of the year birds migrate through the area.
Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District hosts over 250 species of migratory birds. Thousands of migrating birds funnel through the District along the Central Flyway, a migratory bird route through the center of the United States. Birds like the endangered whooping crane, bald and golden eagles, mallards, northern pintails, and green- and blue-winged teal use the wetlands to rest and feed before moving on their journey north and south.
Other species found in the District are white-tailed deer, prairie dogs, cottontail rabbits, butterflies, native bees, foxes, coyotes, skunks, and raccoons.