In the Nebraska Sandhills, ranchers on horseback and in pickup trucks share the range with pronghorn antelope, burrowing owls, and long-billed curlews. The native grasses grow greener as the cattle grow fatter. Throughout the region, river otters and mink swim in streams nourished by springs bubbling up from the High Plains (Ogallala) aquifer. Over years of close observation, Stephen R. Jones has gotten to know the Nebraska Sandhills—the twenty-thousand-square-mile expanse of stunning prairie and thriving wetlands. He has felt the warm breath of a white-tailed doe guarding her spotted fawn, learned to communicate with a family of long-eared owls, and developed an improbable hiking relationship with a wild turkey. He has documented a breeding bird population that is growing more diverse and witnessed the long-awaited return of nesting trumpeter swans.
These personal stories, accompanied by words of insight from Native American leaders, Sandhills ranchers, and grassland ecologists, help us envision a quiet relationship with the natural world.