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




Southern Adventist University Holding Land Dedication

Southern Adventist University’s large, rural campus in Collegedale recently got even bigger as approximately 250 acres on the school’s eastern boundary were donated by a local family through a land trust. Similarly, a private landowner is allowing Southern to manage an additional adjoining tract, meaning a total of 400 acres will be newly available for public recreation beginning ... (click for more)

World-Class Highliner Takes Sport To New Heights In Chattanooga

Local world-class highliner Edward Yates will rig lines of great heights on the Tennessee Aquarium peaks and then walk across them as a unique feature of RiverRocks 2014. “I have always loved the Tennessee Aquarium and this has been a dream of mine for my life,” said Mr. Yates. “There has never been an urban highline event like this before. The symmetry of the Aquarium’s ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Chattanooga Police Department, And Community Members Reach Out To Group Members To End Violence

The city of Chattanooga held a call-in on Thursday night, as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative. Dozens of law enforcement officials, community members, social service providers and clergy gathered to deliver a message to over 20 members of violent groups in Chattanooga. Family members of the probationers watched the call-in from another building. Although the call-in was ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Pete Carroll’s Philosophy

Pete Carroll, the head football coach of the Seattle Seahawks, has a deep belief that he can change people by simply listening to them and then making suggestions on how they can get what they really want. If the people Carroll who can influence win, Carroll wins, and remember his team won last year’s Super Bowl with his methods.   When asked for example, here is what ... (click for more)