23rd Sandhill Crane Festival Set For Jan. 18-19

Saturday, January 11, 2014
- photo by TWRA

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be among organizations set to host the 2014 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival to be held on Jan. 18-19 at the Hiwassee Refuge and in the community of Birchwood.  This will be the 23rd  anniversary for the event which will run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.

The Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival is a celebration of the thousands of sandhill cranes and numerous other waterfowl and shorebirds that migrate through or spend the winter on and around the Hiwassee Refuge and Birchwood.  It is also an opportunity to focus attention on the rich heritage of the state and the Native American history of the area at the near-by Cherokee Removal Memorial.  The Memorial recently dedicated a new addition to the park with the placement of a memorial wall displaying the 1835 Cherokee Nation censes.

"If you enjoy National Geographic magazine's photos and educational TV programs, then you can experience the wonder of Tennessee wildlife by watching not only thousands of sandhill cranes, but also see endangered whooping cranes, bald and golden eagles, and a variety of other native wildlife species at the Hiwassee Refuge," said Dan Hicks Region III I&E coordinator and festival committee chairman. “In addition to the wildlife viewing, there are also craft vendors, food, free shuttle buses, and activities for the entire family.

“The Festival continues only with the support of conservation minded organizations.  We thank Olin-Chlor Alkali Products for sponsoring the event along with this year’s partners, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Tennessee Ornithological Society, Birchwood Area Society Improvement Council (Birchwood Community Center), and Cherokee Removal Memorial."

This year’s State Ornithologist, Scott Somershoe, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, will present an update on the status and research concerning Tennessee’s golden eagle population on Saturday;  and, on Sunday, TWRA Region III Biodiversity Coordinator, Chris Simpson, will present a program on Bats in Tennessee (research update).

Beginning in the early 1990s, the recovering population of eastern sandhill cranes began stopping at the Hiwassee Refuge on their way to and from their wintering grounds in Georgia and Florida.  TWRA has been managing this refuge for over 60 years for waterfowl, and the cranes found a perfect combination of feeding and shallow water roosting habitat.  Now as many as 12,000 of these birds spend the entire winter at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers.

Along with the opportunity to view the birds during the festival, special programs will also be held each day at the Birchwood Community Center (formerly the Birchwood Elementary School).

The Birchwood Community Center will be a focal point during the festival.  The center will host vendors, programs, food in the cafeteria and parking for shuttle transportation to the refuge.  In addition, overflow parking will be available at Birchwood Baptist Church.  Shuttle buses will run continuously from the school and church throughout the day to both the refuge and Cherokee Memorial. The refuge will only be accessible by shuttle bus with the exception of handicap parking and event workers’ permits. 

The American Eagles Foundation, based in Pigeon Forge, will make its popular presentation featuring a raptors show that features birds of prey that have undergone rehabilitation, but cannot be released back to the wild.  

Musical performances will include Nashville recording artist, Don King and Friends.  Area traditional music authority, Tom Morgan, along with Lynne Haas and Ray Branham will perform traditional folk and bluegrass songs.

The nearby Cherokee Removal Memorial will host Native American performances and demonstrations on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Hiwassee Refuge, located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers, comprises about 6,000 acres and offers the ideal habitat for migrating bird species. The Birchwood Community Center is located only three miles from the wildlife-viewing site at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge on Highway 60 between Dayton and Cleveland.  The Cherokee Removal Memorial is found just to the side of the refuge near the Tennessee River.

Blue Moon Cruises is offering a nature cruise on the Hiwassee River during the festival.  For more information and to make reservations, call 1-888-993-2583.

A childrens arts and craft booth will be operating during the festival at the Birchwood Community Center.  For more information, go to www.tncranefestival.org or www.tnwildlife.org , under “For Wildlife Watchers”.

Here is the schedule:

Birchwood Community Center
(formerly, Birchwood School)

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014

7: 00 a.m.  Doors open for breakfast 

8: 00 a.m.  Vendor area (Gym) opens and first shuttle
buses run to Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Memorial

11: 00 a.m. Official Welcome and music program 
(featuring Nashville recording artist Don King and Friends)
Kids Music Appreciation Program- Local traditional artist, Tom Morgan

11: 30 to 12: 30 p.m. Lunch in Cafeteria 

1: 00 p.m.  State Ornithologist, Scott Somershoe, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency,  
Update on the status and research concerning Tennessee's Golden Eagle population 

2: 00 p.m.  American Eagle Foundation, Live Raptor Show

4: 00 p.m. to 5: 00 p.m. Traditional Heritage Music, 
Tom Morgan, Lynn Haas with friends

Sunday, January 19, 2014

7: 00 a.m.  Doors open for breakfast 

8: 00 a.m.  Vendor area (Gym) opens and first shuttle
buses run to Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Memorial

11: 00 a.m. Official Welcome and music program 
(featuring Nashville recording artist Don King and Friends)
Kids Music Appreciation Program- Local traditional artist, Tom Morgan

11: 30 to 12: 30 p.m. Lunch in Cafeteria 

1: 00 p.m. Region III Biodiversity Coordinator, Chris Simpson,
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 
Bats in Tennessee, (research update)

2: 00 p.m.  American Eagle Foundation, Live Raptor Show

4: 00 p.m. to 5: 00 p.m. Traditional Heritage Music, 
Tom Morgan, Lynn Haas with friends


Blue Moon Cruises is offering a Nature Cruise on the Hiwassee River
during the Festival, for more information and reservations,
Call 1-888-993-2583

A Children's Arts and Craft booth will operate during the Festival
at the Birchwood Community Center

Food will be available in the BIrchwood Community Center
Booth days

TWRA Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
All day booth days
Sandhill Crane and wildlife viewing
Interpretation and viewing scopes 
provided by TOS and TWRA Staff




Ernest Lee Wade, 59, Dies In Kayaking Accident On The Collins River

Ernest Lee Wade, 59, from Warren County, lost his life while kayaking on the Collins River on Sunday, June 25. Mr. Wade was a resident of McMinnville.   Mr. Wade and Treyton R. Gritzinger, also from McMinnville, departed on a kayak trip from the Shellsford access area around  8 a.m.  on Sunday. After a half hour or so on the water, Mr. Gritzinger witnessed ... (click for more)

TWRA Says Wildlife Should Remain Wild

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officials are experiencing an increase in the illegal removal of wildlife and wishes to remind people that not only is taking wildlife from nature unlawful, it can have harmful effects on humans, pets, and wildlife populations.     Animals most often taken include fawns, turtles, squirrels and baby raccoons.  Sometimes ... (click for more)

Several People Shot At Citgo On Glenwood Drive

Several people were shot at a convenience store in Glenwood on Monday afternoon. Two people were shot and there possibly was a third victim. One of the victims is believed to have life-threatening injuries. The victim was transported by Hamilton County EMS to the hospital. A second person who was shot went by personal vehicle. The incident happened around 2:40 ... (click for more)

Erlanger Pharmacies Sold To CVS For $10 Million; Units At East, North To Close

Retail pharmacies at Erlanger Health System are being sold to CVS for $10 million, officials said. The retail drug stores at Erlanger North in Red Bank and Erlanger East on Gunbarrel Road will close. Erlanger President Kevin Spiegel noted that CVS has its own pharmacies nearby those facilities. CVS will operate a pharmacy at the Medical Mall on the main Erlanger campus on ... (click for more)

Dennis Norwood: Through The Lens, My Early 4th Of July

Our wonderful nation’s birthday, the 4th of July, came early for me this year. Always one of my favorite holidays, perhaps it’s tied to that fact that my birthday is on Flag Day, this year’s early observance was extra special. The day was this past Sunday, June 25, and it came about as my wife and I attended a concert by our very favorite Christian artist, Sandi Patty, at Abba’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Deadly ‘Holy Trinity’

If you have grown tired and calloused to America’s horrifying opioid epidemic, please consider what the epidemic has become. A report last week found that, in the United States, emergency room cases including opioid abuse jumped a staggering 99 percent between 2009 and 2014. It is believed that last year over 60,000 Americans died from drug overdoses and – far worse – more than ... (click for more)