How birds popular in Palm Beach Gardens ended up on a Nebraska stamp

A Nebraska photographer captured this picture of migrating sandhill cranes.

A Nebraska photographer captured this picture of migrating sandhill cranes. Courtesy image

You may have seen them on the golf course at PGA National, or on a drive around the Mirasol community across the street.

Sandhill cranes are hard to miss, standing almost four feet tall with a 6 1/2-foot wingspan. They’re gray with a long neck and legs and a red bald spot on the tops of their heads. If you see one, you’ll know.

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But what are they doing on the Postal Service’s stamp celebrating Nebraska’s 150th anniversary? A Nebraska photographer, Michael Forsberg, camped out in prairie grasses on the riverbank between Grand Island and Kearney, Neb., to get a stunning photo of the birds, according to the Postal Service.

He didn’t want to disturb the cranes during the migration, so he entered the prairie before they arrived at sunset, the Postal Service said. Then he waited there until they flew away the next morning.

His photo shows them flying low as they look for sandbars for nighttime roosts where they will be safe from predators. More than 500,000 sandhill cranes per year stop in the Platte River Valley in March and early April for a rest during their migration, according to the Postal Service.

Nationwide, the sandhill cranes are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In Florida, they are designated as a threatened species by the state’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

They’ve been subject to a loss of habitat because of wetland drainage, so enjoy them when you see them.

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