Friday, January 13, 2012

Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and the Hooded Crane

While I'm typing this, the wind is howling outside my window and blowing snow, as though the winter has suddenly remembered Tennessee and is arriving in blustering style.  Despite the discomfort these fronts bring, they often create the best crane viewing conditions, bringing cranes and many other wintering birds down into Tennessee to escape the harsh weather in more northern states.
Photo credit:  David Roemer

To wet your appetite and prepare you for what you will see at the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival this weekend, January 14th and 15th, I am re-publishing last night's TN-bird post from Charles Murray.  Charles is a member of the Tennessee Ornithological Society and a resident of Birchwood, TN, and has been at the refuge daily welcoming visitors and keeping all of us posted on the most recent bird sightings there.  His latest post, Jan 12th, was especially fun to read!

Lots of things were happening at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs Co. at Birchwood today.  Two whooping cranes were seen from about 8-8:30 a.m. in a winter wheat field on top of the hill across the slough from the gazebo.  A Ross's goose and 2 blue phase snow geese were noted.  Several immature bald eagles were in view, including 2 immature bald eagles which did a talon-to-talon rollover display in mid-air.  Then several of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources commissioners arrived and stayed for about an hour during which time they saw thousands of sandhill cranes and several eagles.  The hooded crane was spotted about 1:20 p.m. in the same general area that the juvenile whoopers had been in earlier in the day.  It was in and out of view until about 3 p.m. when it was chased by a sandhill crane and flew out of sight to the west.  Hopefully, the hooded crane will still be in view Saturday and Sunday for the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival centered at Birchwood Elementary School.  I went to the Cherokee Removal Memorial very late, about 5:50 p.m., where I shared a sighting of at least 4 whooping cranes in a flooded area on Hiwassee Island with a visitor from Oklahoma.  61 visitors included a person from Minnesota for the first time.  Eleven states, Canada, and the district of Columbia were represented among the visitors [today].  People from 42 states and 10 nations have now contributed to at least 2614 visits to the HWR since December 14, 2011

Directions to the refuge can be found at Tennessee Watchable Wildlife--Hiwassee  

Visitors to the weekend crane festival will need to park at Birchwood Elementary School and ride the shuttle buses to HWR.  The buses will run at least every 15 minutes.  Only handicap parking will be allowed at the HWR.  Shuttles will also go to the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park.  DRESS WARMLY!  Predictions are for temperatures in the 20's in the mornings and 40's in the afternoons.  

Charles Murray
Birchwood, TN
Photo credit:  David Roemer.  

See you at the festival!

Links and Resources:

Jan 12th news report and video of Hiwassee's cranes.  Best part is the voice of the cranes.  Read my previous post to learn about the sandhill crane and whooping crane migrations to the refuge.

American Birding Association blog post on hooded crane.

Mike Nelson's Flicker site with Hooded crane video and photo stream
Morgan Simmons Jan 10 article Knoxville News Sentinel:  Rare Crane Joins Hiwassee Flock
Make your plans to attend the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival
Directions to Birchwood and the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Sandhill Crane Festival Schedule of Events
Tennessee Ornithological Society
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife on Sandhill Cranes
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:  TN Sandhill Crane Festival
Hooded Crane is Season's Gift by Marcia Davis
Times Free Press--Rare Hooded Crane Seen
International Crane Foundation on the Hooded Crane

At my companion blog, Vickie's Sketchbook:  Sandhill Cranes and Art
Sandhill crane art in my website galleries

Whooping Crane Reintroduction links:

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photos of beautiful birds. I wish I could be there Vickie!


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