Rowe Sanctuary is the largest Audubon refuge in the region with 2,900 acres along the central Platte River. The sanctuary protects prime Sandhill and Whooping Crane stopover habitats, including 4 miles of river channel, wet meadows, and agricultural fields. The Iain Nicholson Audubon Center provides great educational information, opportunities to view birds from the large picture windows facing the Platte River, and has a gift shop where you can buy bird books and other bird-related materials. Registration for all guided crane-viewing tours typically open months before the cranes arrive, so make your reservations early as they may book up quickly.
Where to go in the sanctuary
Take the self-guided birding trail that begins at the Iain Nicholson Audubon Center. During crane season, the trail has limited access. For nearby crane viewing options head southwest from the sanctuary to a free roadside viewing area (40.66393, -98.89081), or head east to Plautz Crane Viewing Deck (40.67446, -98.84764). During summer, there are many prairie species to observe at the sanctuary including Dickcissel, Upland Sandpiper, and Bobolink, as well as riparian woodland species such as Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Willow Flycatcher. Watch for Least Terns and Piping Plovers that will nest on the barren sandbars that were used by roosting cranes.
Site’s notable birds
Birds recently observed
44450 Elm Island Rd, Gibbon, NE 68840
Visitor Center, Bathrooms, Hiking Trails, Crane Viewing
Free, donations welcome
Top photo by Chris Masada