New numbers show the sandhill crane spring migration through central Nebraska is well ahead of schedule this year.
The Grand Island Independent reports that the latest aerial count taken Monday of sandhill cranes along the Platte River from Chapman to Overton showed 213,600 cranes.
Crane Trust vice president Brice Krohn says that's the largest number recorded in February since weekly crane inventories during migration season began in 1998.
The most sandhill cranes previously recorded in the area during February was 30,000 in February 2005.
Experts are crediting warmer-than-normal weather. The average daily temperature in February in Grand Island was nearly 7 degrees above the 30-year average.
The sandhill crane migration generally runs from mid-February through mid-April, when more than 500,000 sandhill cranes pass through the Platte River basin.