I was once on acid in the Pioneer's Park Prairie and looked up to see a hawk flying above me while a robin or something was trotting ahead of me. The robin was scampering forward out of fear of me in the same direction the hawk was going and I would have felt guilty if i inspired it to fly straight into the hawk's claws. So I made some sort of gesture meant to convey that I meant no harm that meant nothing in any language human or bird that of course the robin ignored though it did not end up being eaten on my account so far as I know. A subdivision across the road broke up the illusion of primordial grassland and I'd like to get my hands on whoever it was on the city council or whatnot who approved that God-damned thing.
It happens that Sandhill Cranes find dead corn stalks very nutritious, so that this is one species that has actually benefited from white incursion; their numbers quadrupling over the course of the twentieth century or so I've read from a reliable source. & even if they hadn't become a regional icon the fact that they camp out in the same Platte Valley that people do means they are always within missed-shot range of the interstate or the railroad, so that legal hunting would be out of the question regardless. Such is the case here anyway which is good because they are hunted down in Texas, to the point that every new-hatched crane is more likely to be shot dead than a soldier in combat or so I've read from the same source. Texans have more or less free rein to shoot each other though and like I said the cranes have benefited from European settlement overall.
The town of North Platte sits on land that is naturally delta-marsh, so heavily bridled with bogs & semi-permanent channels that discerning the exact junction point of the Plattes to satisfy human landmark-lust was apparently difficult. In high spring when the humidity is up one can smell the natural lordship of the mudsand right downtown and even as far west as Hershey some fifteen miles from the forks. The town has taken on a rough triangle shape as it spreads out from the forks, with the poorer people living on the more flood-prone northeast end nearest the junction while doctors bankers railroad executives etc. concentrate on the southwest end where there is more room for big yards. The the general risk of flood here hasn't really been exceptional since dams etc were built upstream and the town does not exist in the same state of constant water siege as Cairo Il; my time there being something I may tell of in the future maybe. Before white people chose to build a regional hub here (which given the Platte's famed unnavigabillity was an arbitrary choice save for the old landmark lust) the site of North Platte was apparently a garden for wildlife. Bison would concentrate there while crossing from one set of sandhills to the other and there were also effective cities of antelope coyote, wolves, birds, birds birds.
My most vivid memory of the Sandhills Cranes is being woken up by their cartoon squaks at four in the morning. Or maybe in reaching the town-country frontier on either the east or west and seeing the things camped out by the hundreds in some farmers field like a Russian army trying to starve us out. occasionally flying low across the road in great flocks daring the driver to fuck up their grill for the sake of momentary bloodlust. There indeed truly beautiful when taking flight with a totalitarian degree of coordination led by some Alpha among them or maybe some random one of their number who says 'hey y'all let's go over here and eat more dead corn.'
At about halftime of the 1995 national championship game against Florida my cousin Aaron showed up with a dead pheasant. Unplucked and ungutted save for the shotgun metal that killed it. I don't know what Aaron expected us to do with the fucking thing though after this whiskers our family schnauzer did love him forevermore.
Once when I was high and skipping high school I watched this documentary called "March of the Cranes" on NET. It was Cranes. Then at the very end there was this guy in downtown Omaha or something there was this guy meant to be dressed up like a Sandhills Crane with muppet beak costume-shop wings and all the rest. And he spent what seemed to be twenty minutes trotting back in forth in a little circle in what was meant to be a demonstration of the crane mating dance and it was fucking amazing. It was one of the few truly psychedelic experiences of my life. I've spent my adult years looking for it on Youtube and across the internet but to no avail.
In 2012 or so I returned to Nebraska across the footbridge from Council Bluffs and trotted about the Omaha riverfront for awhile. I came across a flock of geese and observed one eat another's shit straight from the cloaca. This left me sincerely traumatized for some days even though I'd been logically aware that yeah birds will do that. I'm capible of hating the things when I'm in a foul mood. God-damned feathered lizards with older siblings hard-wired to peck the younger to death so why bother having two except for sadism? Yet I've also seen mating pairs respond with true joy when one had cause to think the other had been eaten and then learned that this wasn't so yet. Life is neither good or bad but just tasting things. And it's perfectly of that it's all a fluke.