Sandhill cranes are returning to the North Platte area, making a stopover on their long migration north.

These photos were taken Saturday, March 3 west of North Platte by Jim Tierney of North Platte.

If you drive out to see them, they will not be bothered too much by vehicles, but they like to keep a “buffer zone” between themselves and anything that could hide a predator.

Often you can drive as close as 100 yards from them before they get nervous and move off, outdoor writer Rick Windham said.

“Stay in your vehicle to observe the cranes. A human form on the ground is a sure way to get them to take flight. They are very wary of humans,” Windham said.

Tierney also photographed a bald eagle and hundreds of blackbirds in the same area.

An estimated 150,000 to 170,000 cranes will be in the North Platte area, mainly between North Platte and Sutherland. They are normally in the area for 4-6 weeks, Windham said.