Every spring, 80% of the world’s sandhill crane population congregates along the central Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska. The big birds chatter, they squawk and they squeak, and every birdwatcher and nature photographer witnessing the cacophony treasures the experience.
Some 3,000 bald eagles gather every winter in the open waters and floodplains of the Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi rivers in the Midwest. They come for the fish, with an occasional side dish of waterfowl. You can watch it all from several convenient viewing spots.
Conservation photographer Morgan Heim also seeks out the national bird at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, a state park and wildlife refuge in Haines, Alaska, about 70 miles north of Juneau. There, every winter, it’s not uncommon to see an eagle soaring over the water with talons extended, fishing for salmon, or sitting in a tree with 40 or more fellow raptors.
Whichever road trip you choose, when you’re out watching wildlife, protect yourself and the animals by following legal guidelines. Approaching too close can be dangerous, as all wild animals are unpredictable.