Meeting dates announced

12th North American Crane Workshop and 34th Annual Meeting of

The Waterbird Society Joint Meeting

13-16 March 2011 Grand Island, Nebraska USA

Announcement and Call for Papers

This meeting will constitute the annual meeting for the 2010 calendar year for The Waterbird Society and the 12th North American Crane Workshop, and will include presentations of research papers, symposia, workshops, social events and area field trips. The Waterbird Society will be meeting for the first time with the North American Crane Working Group whose mission is to improve communication and interaction among individuals researching or managing cranes in North America. The theme of the meeting is Migration and Migratory Landscapes and both organizations are anticipating a productive and stimulating conference. Planned symposia and special paper sessions include:

Playa Wetland Ecology (Ted LaGrange)
Mountain Plover Management and Conservation (Brad Andres; Tammy VerCauteren)
Ecology of Waterbird Migration (Lisa Webb)
Local Movements and Roosting Habits of Waterbirds (Chip Weseloh)
Black Tern: Science and Management (Patty Szczys)
Species Reintroductions (Marilyn Spalding)
Climate Change, Freshwater Resources and Waterbirds (Marilyn Spalding)
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Lessons Learned (Jonathan Cohen)
Why, How, and Wherefore of Monitoring Programs (Organizers: Susan Elbin & Nellie Tsipoura)

In addition, the meeting will include general paper sessions and poster presentations.

Members of both organizations and non-members are encouraged to submit an abstract of their work for oral or poster presentation at the meeting. Deadline for submitting abstracts is 15 January 2011. Submit an abstract.

Meeting Structure

This year’s meeting will be a joint meeting of the North American Crane Working Group and The Waterbird Society. This is the first time these two societies have come together and promises to be an exciting and educational experience for all. This joint meeting should provide an opportunity for members of the two societies to meet and learn about each other’s work. A broader participation of professionals should increase opportunities to interact and make connections, particularly for students.


Grand Island, Nebraska. The conference will be held at the Holiday Inn Midtown. The Holiday Inn Midtown has 206 rooms and is a conference center with two ballrooms, seven breakout rooms, an exhibit area and all services required for a major conference. Grand Island is located in south-central Nebraska, in the middle of the continent and in an important migratory corridor for millions of birds along the Central Flyway.

Spring time, the dates for this meeting, is a busy time as this region is part of the Central Flyway and some 6-10 million waterfowl and half a million Sandhill Cranes are staging in a relatively narrow corridor. Cranes, geese, ducks, and shorebirds are easily visible in and along the Platte River and adjacent wetlands and fields. The spring staging of sandhill cranes is recognized as a unique ecological phenomenon. Sandhill Cranes use the Platte River Valley as a staging area from late February through mid-April, using the river to roost and obtaining energy reserves from waste corn in the surrounding areas. Just south of the Platte River Valley is the Rainwater Basin, a complex of shallow basin wetlands. Comprised of hundreds of individual wetlands of different sizes, it is an internationally recognized stopover area for migrating shorebirds and is also considered a Landscape of Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Daily opportunities to view cranes and waterfowl on the river will be available via blinds and field trips.

In mid-1800’s, an idea came to light to develop a city in Central Nebraska. This city would be situated along the Platte River Road, and the first settlers hoped that the central location of this city would be ideal for the relocation of the nation’s capital from Washington D.C. This dream was of course, never became reality.

In 1857, an expedition of 35 people set out from Davenport, Iowa, consisting of German immigrants. The banking house called Chubb Brothers and Barrows, of Davenport supported the group. They were instructed to choose their settlement’s location within an area named by French Fur Traders as “La Grande Island”, an island in the Platte River. In 1857, the group of settlers began their journey, arrived at their destination and began their settlement on July 4, 1857. By September, log houses had been constructed from ash, elm, and cottonwood timber.

Scientific Program

Concurrent sessions will take place Monday-Wednesday 14-16th March. A poster session will take place late afternoon and evening on Monday 14th March.


Grand Island has a regional airport with direct flight services from Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas with Allegiant Air and Great Lakes Airlines. Kearney Regional airport is 40 minutes away and supports flights to Denver with Great Lakes Airlines. Lincoln airport is a 1.5 hour drive to Grand Island and supports direct flights to Minneapolis and Denver. Omaha airport is a 2.5 hour drive from Grand Island and has connecting flights to and from most major airline hubs in the US.

Transportation from Airports to Conference Center

Shuttle Service
Transportation from Omaha, Lincoln, and Kearney airports is available via Eppley Express shuttle service for $56.00 from Omaha, $49.00 from Lincoln, and $28.00 from Kearney. Please contact the shuttle service directly to make reservations at: or call 1-800-888-9793 or locally at (308) 234-6066. For those arriving at the Grand Island airport, simply call the hotel for their shuttle, rent a car, or call for a taxi.

Car rental agencies are available at all airports listed here.

Driving Directions

Grand Island is just north of Interstate Highway 80 (I-80). From Lincoln or Omaha you need take Highway I-80 west, to exit 314, also Locust Street Exit (90 miles from Lincoln, 150 miles from Omaha), and head North on Locust Street for 6.5 miles to Holiday Inn Midtown.

From Kearney or coming eastbound take I-80 east to exit 314 .


Spring weather in the Central Platte River Valley is extreme and highly variable each year. Be prepared for anything from warm to cold snowy conditions. Every spring is different.
March in Nebraska is a typical transition month on the Great Plains. Weather conditions can change drastically through the week, and through the day. Expect temperatures in Grand Island to range from below freezing at night (many times below 0°F at night) to around 50°F during the day. Precipitation is mainly in the form of freezing drizzle and/or snow. Winds are moderate to strong averaging 12 mph with 40 mph not uncommon.
Record High Temperature at Grand Island in March: 90°F
Record Low Temperature at Grand Island in March: -21°F
30-Year Normal High for March: 77°F
30-Year Normal Low for March: 7°F
Average High for March 2009: 49.5°F
Average High for March 2009: 27.0°F


The room rate at the Conference host hotel for meeting participants at the Holiday Inn Midtown room is $79.00 for single, double, triple, or quadruple occupancy. Participants must make their own reservations directly with the hotel at 800-548-5542. Mention “North American Crane-Waterbird Society” reservation code when making reservations to ensure you get the special rate. You may also make hotel reservations online at this link: &&&&NACWG/WBS

Conference Hotel address:
Midtown Holiday Inn
2503 South Locust Street
Grand Island, NE 68801

Other Accommodations
Several hotels are available within walking distance of the Holiday Inn. Blocks of rooms have been reserved at the Best Western and Super 8 motels, through 1 March, for those looking for alternative lodging options.

Best Western Inn & Suites
2707 S Locust St
Grand Island, NE 68801
A block of 25 -30 sleeping rooms is available at a flat rate $89.99 + tax for 1-4 persons.
Amenities include hot continental breakfast, swimming pool, exercise room, wireless internet, microwave & frig.

Super 8
2603 South Locust St
Grand Island, NE 68801
A block of 25 sleeping rooms is available at a Flat rate $65.00 + tax for 1-4 persons.
Amenities include continental breakfast, swimming pool, wireless internet, microwave & frig.

Special Rates and Support for Students

The possibility of multiple occupancy per room (up to 4) at the Holiday Inn Midtown and other hotels should provide reasonable lodging rates for students willing to share a room. Students with limited or no funding support from grants or their institutions may apply for a lodging scholarship at the Crane Trust (See Lodging Scholarship Guidelines below for details). Travel Scholarships are available from The Waterbird Society, for information contact: Linda Wires (tel. 612-624-2297). All students who have submitted for an oral presentation or poster to the scientific program will be eligible for significantly reduced registration fees. Students who are not presenting will still have reduced registration fees as outlined below in Registration Costs.

Lodging Scholarships
Students without project or institutional support may apply for a lodging scholarship at The Crane Trust. Interested students please contact Walter Wehtje (tel. 308-384-4633).

Registration Costs

Early regular (member) $250.00
Early regular (non-member) $295.00
Join WBS
Student $100.00
Late regular (member) $300.00
Late regular (non-member) $345.00
Late student $150.00

Non-member registration includes a one year membership to either NACWG or WBS.

Registration costs will include breakfasts and lunches on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Food at the reception, all socials, banquet, and coffee breaks is also included with registration. Dinner, except for the banquet on Wednesday 15th March, is on your own. Complimentary food is available at the Hospitality Barn. In addition, food and drinks at The Crane Trust Hospitality Barn and the Hospitality Suite at the hotel are complementary for paid registrants (must provide proof of registration via name tag and beverage container).


Registration is available <here>. Registration packets and for those wishing to register on site the Registration desk will be open Sunday 13th March from 1300-1700 hrs and from 0700-1000 hrs on all conference days at the Holiday Inn Midtown.


Breakfast and lunches will be provided as part of registration on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and offered at the hotel. Dinner on Wednesday is provided at the banquet. Food will be available at dinner time at The Crane Trust Hospitality Barn on Monday and Tuesday. For other meals or food options a list of local restaurants is attached (Appendix A).

Meeting Logistics

In an effort to decrease the amount of disposable containers used at the meeting, all paid registrants will receive a non-disposable hot liquid mug for coffee and tea and a water bottle style container that can be used for cold beverages. You must have your mug for coffee breaks and must have your water bottle for refreshments at the different socials described below (except for the banquet).

Social Events

Sunday 13 March:

The ice breaker social will take place at The Crane Trust facilities, 20 minutes from the Hotel. Transportation from and to the hotel and food and drinks will be provided. The ice breaker will be near (but far enough to not cause disturbance) to one of the largest sandhill crane roosts in the Platte River. From this location we will be able to observe as thousands of cranes fly from fields to staging areas and to roost sites in the river which will also be visible from our location. Buses will depart every hour at the top of the hour from the Hotel parking lot to the Trust starting at 1730 hrs. Buses will leave the Trust for the hotel every 30 minutes starting at 2000 hours.

Poster Session Monday 14 March:

The Poster session will be from 1600-1800 hrs on Monday and will feature a cash bar and heavy hors d’oevres. Posters should be up by noon Monday 14 March for early viewing and poster presenters should be next to their posters from 1600-1800 hrs for interaction.

All Evenings:

The Crane Trust Hospitality Barn is intended to provide opportunities to enjoy the Sandhill Crane roosting flights and other migratory bird movements at The Crane Trust Wild Rose Ranch. The Hospitality Barn will be open every evening during the conference. Drinks and heavy appetizers will be available to all registered participants (must have water bottle included in registration packet) at no additional charge. Drinks to be provided include soft drinks, Thunderhead Brewery microbrews, and wine. You are free to bring your own drinks if you prefer other types of items. Transportation will be available via motor coaches running every half-hour starting at the end of scheduled presentations until 2230 PM. Buses depart from and return to the Holiday Inn Midtown parking lot. For those preferring to stay at the hotel, a hospitality suite will provide drinks and light snacks.


The banquet will take place on the evening of Wednesday, 16th March, at the Holiday Inn Midtown and is included in the price of registration.

Field Trips

A pre-conference field trip is available on Sunday 13th March. Tuesday, 15 March, is the field trip day for the North American Crane Working Group members. A post-conference field will be on Thursday 17 March. Two field trips are available:

Trip 1: Birdwatching

For those interested in bird watching, Joel Jorgensen, avian biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Andy Bishop, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will lead a trip through the Rainwater Basin wetlands located south and east of Grand Island. These wetlands support literally millions of migrating ducks, geese, and shorebirds.

All trips depart from the Midtown Holiday Inn at 0900 hrs. Travel will be by bus to the various wetlands. Lunch will be provided. Following lunch the return trip will concentrate on viewing sandhill cranes in the meadows and fields along the Platte River. The tour is expected to end at 1530 hrs.

Trip 2: Restoration and Management of Platte River

For those interested in the extensive restoration work being done on the Platte River by The Whooping Crane Trust, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program, the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, The Nature Conservancy, power companies and Natural Resource Districts, there will be an opportunity to travel with Jim Jenniges, Environmental Specialist with the Nebraska Public Power District and Chad Smith, Environmental Manager of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program to restoration sites to view completed work and to discuss the purpose of the activities, and past as well as future activities. Travel between sites will provide ample opportunity to observe cranes, waterfowl, and other bird species in fields and wetlands.

The Tour will leave from the Midtown Holiday Inn at 9:30 AM and return by 3:30 PM. Lunch will be provided. The trip will include an opportunity to view sandhill cranes in the meadows and fields along the Platte River.

Crane blind viewing

Crane viewing blinds will be available on a first come-first serve basis at the Conference. These blinds, provided by the Crane Trust, are available for $15/person. There will be a host that will escort you to the viewing blind. The viewing blind tours will leave from the Midtown Holiday Inn at 0530 hrs each morning and 1630 hrs each afternoon. Reservation will be on a first come first serve basis and signup sheets will be available at check-in. Commercial crane blind viewing opportunities are also available via The Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center and Rowe Audubon Sanctuary. Space in these blinds may be reserved in advance through each entity.

Self-guided Trips

Opportunities to view cranes and birdwatching are not limited to the organized field trips. Individuals are encouraged to get out on their own to view the migratory water bird spectacle that is spring in The Central Platte Nebraska. A self guided tour map will be available in registration packet.

Silent Auction

The Waterbird Society will host its traditional Silent Auction on the Wednesday, before the banquet. All participants are encouraged to bring and donate avian artwork, books, etc. Proceeds from the Silent Auction go towards student travel awards for the next Waterbird Society meeting. Further details on the Silent Auction will appear on the Waterbird Society webpage.

Other Activities

The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Poineer’s Wings Over the Platte Art Exhibit and Sale will be ongoing. Painting, sculpture and photography works will be on exhibit from 25 February to 10 April, 2011.

The North American Crane Working Group and Waterbird Society are grateful to several sponsors for supporting the workshop.