Unique Sandhill Crane Photo Workshop

UPDATED 1/12/19: CLOSED – Check back for our 2020 workshop dates.

Dates:  March 14 to 19, 2019 

Omaha and Platte River, Nebraska

Imagine waiting in the darkness.  There is rustling and a purring sound that the Sandhill Cranes make.  It gets steadily louder until it becomes a din of activity and birds chattering.  As the sun rises, you can make out shadows of thousands of these tall birds standing in the river.  It is truly a magnificent sight and sound to behold.  Every year around half-a-million cranes make their winter stop at the Platte River in Nebraska before moving on to their summer breeding grounds.  Jane Goodall has called it one of the “greatest animal migrations in North America.”  This is a chance to not only experience this magnificent phenomenon but to do from private property without the restrictions of organized blind tours.

A Private Viewing Opportunity of Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River
crane cabin blind

The blind accommodates two people and is available for a premium. Available to those participants who book first.


This workshop is a unique opportunity to get close to the birds with the freedom of not being enclosed in a blind. Most areas where the birds settle on the river are only viewable by blinds or are quite a distance from the birds. The first two days of the workshop we will be staying on private property along the Platte. Birds fly over and land very close to where we stand/shoot. There will be an opportunity for participants to overnight in a blind where the birds have landed 15 feet from the photographer. Last year there was an estimated 100,000 birds that landed along this beautiful part of the river that will only be accessible to our workshop participants during our stay. 

During the day, we will visit the surrounding fields where the sandhill cranes feast, frolic and fly.  There will be opportunities to capture the cranes socializing in a variety of different locations.

We will spend one more full day and morning photographing the cranes from an established photo blind that has magnificent sunrise and sunset views.

Through tips and instruction, participants will not only learn how to get the best photos of the birds, they will be guided to use techniques to create artistic photos of the birds.  Following the workshop, an instructor will be available to critique and offer editing suggestions on select photos from each participant.

Leaders of Sandhill Crane Migration Photo Workshop

Professional nature and travel photographer, Barb Gonzalez is one of the leaders and no novice to the crane migration. She has become a part of a network that helps find the best locations to photograph birds during the day, and can speak to crane behaviors and best practices in making an excellent photograph of the birds. We are lucky to also have 20-year veteran award-winning nature and travel photographer, and author Greg Vaughn. Greg is one of the leaders for the prestigious Muench outdoor photography workshops as well as a teacher for the Yellowstone Forever Institute. He also conducts private photography tours around the world.

Brief Itinerary description of Sandhill Crane Migration Photo Workshop:
Interior Henry Doorly Zoo

Henry Doorly Zoo

Sandhill Crane Migration Photo Workshop at Rowe Sanctuary Audobon

Crane hopping in corn field during mid-day

Sandhill Crane Migration photo workshop at Rowe Sanctuary

Inside a blind at Audobon Rowe Sanctuary

       sandhill crane migration photo workshop participants.            

The first day, March 14, is arranged for participants to meet in Omaha, Nebraska.  For those who arrive in the morning or the day before, there is an option to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo—mostly indoors—considered one of the top zoos in America. 

The next day we will drive to Grand Island where we will have 3 days to get the best shots of the cranes. We will spend two days in a private cabin on the Platte River near Grand Island.  

We will then spend one more day shooting from photo blinds where we will get a chance to photograph the sandhill cranes with beautiful sunrise/sunset opportunities.

This is where we have decided to finish the trip but there is an optional extension available.

Prairie Chicken Dance 

For our final evening and moving, we will travel to view prairie chickens on a lek.  At this time of year, the prairie chickens put on quite a show where we will be able to photograph the male’s Lek behavior of fighting for position on the Lek and doing their “Chicken Dance.”  

Believe it or not, the prairie chickens are beautiful birds and it’s a special chance to shoot some fascinating behavior.

Prairie Chicken dance

For those who want to take a break from photographing birds or on bad weather days there are two unique and excellent museums in the area. “The Archway” is housed in an overpass spanning i-80 that is beautifully curated to follow the history of the Oregon Trail to modern cross-country travel. The other is the Stuhr Museum of the Prarie Pioneer, an architectural beauty that houses art and artifacts indoors and a photogenic railroad town and grounds outside.

The Archway Museum

The Sandhill Crane Migration Photo Workshop tuition covers:
  • 5 nights hotel and sleep accommodations, Double occupancy.
    (Note that the private property accommodations is a shared cabin–2 participants will have the opportunity to join an instructor in the overnight blind for a premium)
  • Tickets to blinds for viewing birds
  • 2 day’s meals- there will be an opportunity to purchase snacks and other meals will be at local restaurants.
  • Transportation from Omaha to Platte river and return
  • Transportation around Platte river and fields and viewing/photographing from vehicles during the day
  • Transportation to Prairie Chicken Lek includes viewing and breakfast
  • Discount on renting equipment from LensRentals.com
Pricing Per Person:

Price:                                $2495 double occupancy 

Workshop with Single room:                       $400 surcharge 

Add Overnight blind:                  $150 premium (please pay workshop and then add this) 

Deposit before December 1, 2018 $750.00

Must be paid in full by December 27, 2018.

Cancellations after January 10, 2019 but before February 21, 2019– Refund minus deposit.

After February 28, 2019 No refunds.

Inquire about other payment methods.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.