Travel with JGI - The Great Sandhill Crane Migration


Why The Cranes?

In her 2009 book Hope for Animals and Their World, Dr. Jane Goodall looks at species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction, including Nebraska’s famous sandhill cranes.

Today, Dr. Goodall continues to travel an average of 300 days each year breaking only to visit family, recharge her batteries in Gombe National Park, and to witness the annual migration of the sandhill cranes in Kearney, Nebraska. She has made her trip to Kearney an annual tradition.

Join the Jane Goodall Institute along the banks of the Platte River in Nebraska to view the great migration of the sandhill cranes, one of Dr. Goodall’s most cherished pastimes.

Special Guests

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE

Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

In July 1960, Jane Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzee behavior in what is now Tanzania. Her work at Gombe Stream would become the foundation of future primatological research and redefine the relationship between humans and animals.
In 1977, Dr. Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues the Gombe research and is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. The Institute is widely recognized for innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa and for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, its global environmental and humanitarian youth program. Today, Dr. Goodall travels an average of 300 days per year, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her reasons for hope that humankind will solve the problems it has imposed on the earth.

Thomas Mangelsen

Wildlife Photographer

Legendary nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen, a Nebraska native, has traveled throughout the natural world for over 40 years observing and photographing the Earth’s last great wild places. Mangelsen is a critically acclaimed photographer, artist, and conservationist whose photographic adventures have captured rare moments and vast panoramas on all seven continents. His award-winning limited edition art work has been exhibited in major museums and collected by hundreds of thousands around the world through his Mangelsen-Images of Nature galleries. 

Trip Leaders

Bill Wallauer

Wildlife Cameraman & Research Videographer

Bill Wallauer offers a unique and fascinating view of life among wild chimpanzees. For 15 years, Bill spent just about every day following the wild chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, capturing the intimate details of their daily life. He has commented that, during those years, he spent more time with chimpanzees than with humans.

Bill became part of the life at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Gombe Stream Research Center in 1989 while on assignment for the U.S. Peace Corps in southern Tanzania. After completing his Peace Corps work in 1991, the Oregon native was drawn back to Tanzania to help study the Gombe chimpanzees. After he successfully captured a wild chimpanzee birth on videotape, Dr. Goodall asked Bill to follow the chimps and record their daily activities and behavior—which he did for the next 15 years.

Scott Weidensaul

Author and Naturalist

Scott Weidensaul is the author of more than two dozen books on natural history, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Living on the Wind about bird migration; Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent’s Natural Soul; and his newest book, Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding. Scott writes for such publications as Audubon, Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife. He lives in the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, where he studies the migration of hawks, owls and hummingbirds.

Photo of Jane Goodall © Gant by Morten Bjarnhof.
Photo of Thomas Mangelsen © Victoria Blumberg.


Annmarie Hoffmann

"Until six months ago, I did not know what a sandhill crane was, let alone where they come from or migrate to. However, this March I was privileged to visit Kearney, Nebraska with the Jane Goodall Institute, to see and hear one of the most beautiful spectacles I have witnessed in my 51 years of life. Being able to share this experience with Dr. Jane Goodall, herself, only made the trip more special.

I watched them land in the Platte River at night and heard them take off in the morning from the beautiful Rowe Sanctuary. There were over 300,000 sandhill Cranes in the area and the performance of these four foot tall birds flying in from all ends of the sky was matched only by the cacophony of sounds they made in flight and during their landing.

The Nebraska trip opened my eyes and heart to the life that exists in the air, giving me a greater understanding of the trials and tribulations that all migratory birds face. I will forever love the sandhill crane and upon returning to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I felt fortified and strengthened in my soul as to the perfect harmony of life."

Caryl Benning

“I knew that meeting Dr. Jane Goodall and seeing the migration of the sandhill cranes was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I had no idea just how deeply those experiences would touch me. My excitement was more than equaled by the passion of the JGI staff and guides who introduced me to a kind of natural beauty that I did not know existed. As the sun came up I watched in utter amazement as tens of thousands of magnificent cranes awoke together and began their ritual dances and vocalizations. I marveled at their sheer numbers, but I was deeply touched by their beauty, their unique vocal expressions and their amazing strength of purpose.

The JGI trip rekindled in me a sense of wonder, joy and gratitude that I had not experienced since childhood. I will never forget the exhilarating jeep ride through the sandhills of Calamus, the unmistakable silhouette of a Great Horned Owl nesting high in a cottonwood tree, the colonies of vigilant prairie dogs and the comical dance of the prairie chickens mimicked by Jane Goodall herself. These images still bring an irrepressible smile to my face. I will never forget the beauty and charm I saw in nature and the people around me."



Crane Migration Feature by CBS