Status: Rare casual spring migrant central and western Platte River Valley.
Documentation: Photograph: 31 Mar-1 Apr 1972 Elm Creek, Phelps Co (Tremaine et al 1972).
Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized.
The first Nebraska record was of one seen several times 25-31 Mar 1972 between Hershey and North Platte in Lincoln Co; it is conjectural whether it was a different bird than that seen and photographed near Elm Creek 31 Mar-1 Apr 1972 (cited above). It is likely that the 19 records can be accounted for by fewer than 19 individual birds. The Nebraska records constitute about two thirds of all North American records (Silcock and Dinsmore 1999), not including reports from the eastern United States discussed below (see Comments).
In addition to the two records discussed above, the records are:
27 Jan-25 Feb 2012, one in Hall Co (Brogie 2013). This bird appears to have been associated with a group of Sandhill Cranes that wintered in the area and probably departed with them.
6-9 Mar 2008, one in Buffalo and Kearney Cos near Rowe Sanctuary (Brogie 2009).
6-26 Mar 1999, a pale individual in northeast Kearney and southeast Buffalo Cos (Silcock and Dinsmore 1999; Jorgensen 2001).
10 Mar-6 Apr 2000, one associated with a Sandhill Crane and accompanied by two apparent hybrid young in the Prosser area, Adams Co (Mark Urwiller, personal communication); this may have been the same family group that was seen in Quebec and Indiana in fall 1999 (see below).
10 Mar 2007, one with about 1000 Sandhill Cranes on private property near Lewellen, Garden Co
12 Mar 2009, one photographed near North Platte, Lincoln Co (Brogie 2011)
12 Mar 2020, one photographed near Lewellen, Garden Co (Kylee Warren, personal communication)
18-21 Mar 2009 near Lewellen, Garden Co; possibly the same bird was seen 12 Mar 2009 near North Platte (above)
16-25 Mar 1974, one photographed northern Kearney and southern Buffalo Cos (Cortelyou 1974)
17 Mar 2006, one roosting with Sandhill Cranes near Rowe Sanctuary, Buffalo Co
18-21 Mar 2009, one near Lewellen, possibly the same bird seen there in 2007 (Brogie 2009)
18-24 Mar 2010, one photographed near Hershey, Lincoln Co (Brogie 2011)
25 Mar 2011, one photographed at Rowe Sanctuary (Kent Skaggs, personal communication)
30 Mar-6 Apr 2008, one near Hershey, Lincoln Co (Brogie 2009). Possibly the same bird as the 6-9 Mar 2008 sighting, although it may have been the bird at Quivira NWR, Kansas 23 Mar 2008
30 Mar-3 Apr 1996, one in southern Hall and northern Adams Cos (Lingle 1996, Silcock 1996, Grzybowski 1996, Brogie 1997)
2-11 Apr 2014, one photographed in Buffalo and Phelps Cos Apr (Brogie 2015)
10 Apr 2019, one photographed near Lewellen, Garden Co (Kylee Warren, personal communication).
Comments: Common Crane is an Eurasian species, breeding within 600 miles of (Lesser) Sandhill Cranes in northeast Siberia. There are several reports from the eastern United States, including hybrids with Sandhill Cranes. A Common Crane in New York, Vermont, and New Jersey during 1991–1996 was a known escapee. It bred with Sandhill Cranes and produced hybrid young (Howell et al 2014). A family group, possibly including some of the 1991-1996 birds, was in Quebec 7 Oct and Indiana 30 Oct-13 Nov 1999.
CBC: Christmas Bird Count
NWR: National Wildlife Refuge
Photograph (top) of a Common Crane with Sandhill Cranes near Grand Island, Hall Co, 29 Jan 2012 by Phil Swanson.
Brogie, M.A. 1997. 1996 (Eighth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 65: 115-126.
Brogie, M.A. 2009. 2009 (21st) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 77: 160-168.
Brogie, M.A. 2011. 2010 (22nd) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 79: 99-111.
Brogie, M.A. 2013. 2012 (24th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR: 81: 120-130.
Brogie, M.A. 2015. 2014 (26th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 83: 125-138.
Cortelyou, R.G. 1974. European Common Crane seen again in Nebraska. NBR 42: 63-64.
Grzybowski, J.A. 1996. Southern Great Plains Region. Field Notes 50: 296-300.
Howell, S.N.G., I. Lewington, and W. Russell. 2014. Rare birds of North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Jorgensen, J.G. 2001. 1999 (Eleventh) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 69: 85-91.
Lingle, G.R. 1996. Another Common Crane in Nebraska with a summary of North American records. NBR 64: 80-82.
Silcock, W.R. 1996. Spring Field Report, March-May 1996. NBR 64: 42-68.
Silcock, W.R., and S.J. Dinsmore. 1999. Common Crane in central Platte Valley, Nebraska, March 1999, and a discussion of prior North American records. NBR 67: 28-30.
Tremaine, M., C. Booney, J. Redall, G. Viehmeyer, and R.G. Cortelyou. 1972. Sightings of the Common Crane (European) in Nebraska spring 1972. NBR 40: 3-7.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2020. Common Crane (Grus grus). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Birds of Nebraska – Online
Updated 13 Jun 2020