More than 80,000 people flock to this region from March to mid-April to witness the annual spring stopover of a half-million sandhill cranes. It’s really something to see-these three-and-a-half-foot tall birds seem to fall from the sky, landing feet-first into the Platte River. Nearly 90 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population congregates here along a 60-mile stretch of the river between Grand Island and Kearney. Best viewing is in the mornings; on warm days, drive the roads north and south of the Platte, or get a great look from the wooden viewing platform located just south of the Alda exit. Everybody celebrates this magical event at Wings Over the Platte, a birding festival held annually in late March.