Sandhill Crane Festival Friday & Saturday, Local Birding Opportunity

The Sandhill Crane Festival is this Friday and Saturday, the 14th and 15th in Birchwood, TN, near Dayton, TN. Here’s the link to the website:

It’s a bit of a haul over there, but it’s worth it for the opportunity to view thousands of these wonderful birds. We went over there a few years ago and were rewarded by very close looks at a Whooping Crane, a thrill we didn’t expect.

You can go on your own, or the Hiwassee River Coalition is hosting a caravan to Birchwood on January 15. Pre-registration is required, 828.837.5414, or It is set to depart from their office in downtown Murphy (90 Tennessee St.) at 9:00 AM. There is a cafeteria at the Hiawassee River Refuge Center, or you can pack a lunch.

There’s also a local trip on Febuary 4th for the 10th Annual Chatuge Winter Bird Watch, led by Brenda Hull, retired biologist with Young Harris College. That trip leaves from Mary’s Southern Grill in Young Harris at 7:30, followed by breakfast at Mary’s. Expected species are Loons, Mergansers, Buffleheads, Kingfishers, Nuthatches, and Hawks.

For more information:

Here’s a quote from the master:

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words.

This much, though, can be said: our appreciation for the crane grows with the slow unraveling of earthly history. His tribe, we now know, stems out of the remote Eocene. The other members of the fauna in which he originated are long since entombed within the hills. When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our unatamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.

And so they live and have their being- these cranes – not in the constricted present, but in the wider reaches of evolutionary time. Their annual return is the ticking of the geological clock. Upon the place of their return they confer a peculiar distinction. Amid the endless mediocrity of the commonplace, a crane marsh holds a paleontological patent of nobility, won in the march of aeons, and revocable only by shotgun. The sadness discernible in some marshes arises, perhaps, from their once having harbored cranes. Now they stand humbled, adrift in history.”

Marshland Elegy, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold.



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