About a week ago now, while out and about working at Rowe Sanctuary (SE of Kearney), we saw a group of about 12 cranes on one of the meadows and shortly thereafter a family group of 3 birds at a different location. Like you said, a small family group is not that unusual if for example one of the mated pair is injured but its getting pretty late for the larger group. Maybe all part of a straggler group heading north last week.
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