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




TWRA To Be Part Of Nature Fest

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will again be part of the Nature Fest held on  Tuesday, April 16 through Friday, April 19  at Pennebaker Hall on the Tennessee Tech University campus. The event highlights the wonderful, natural diversity found on the Cumberland Plateau through lectures, hikes and hands-on activities. The event is free and great for families.  ... (click for more)

Segment Of Yellow Trail Closed At Chickamauga Battlefield

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is advising the public that a .73 mile segment of the Yellow Trail in Chickamauga Battlefield will be closed effective March 27, and will remain closed until further notice.  The section of trail that is closed runs parallel to Reed’s Bridge Road, in between the parking pull-off areas for the Blue Trail and the Green Trail. ... (click for more)

Haslam Adds K-12 Funds In Budget Amendment

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks, including added funding for K-12. The governor last week met with school superintendents from the largest systems in the state over the issue of state funding for K-12. The next day, the Hamilton County Schools joined ... (click for more)

City Detective Who Was Arrested Twice In 4 Months Is Fired After Internal Affairs Investigation

A city detective who was arrested twice in four months has been fired by Police Chief Fred Fletcher. David Catchings had been charged with DUI last September and then with domestic assault at the end of the year. Police said, "After a complete review of both investigations – which included recommendations from Internal Affairs, the Administrative Review Committee and Officer ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Goodbye, Dr. Nassour

About 51 years ago, right after Jim Creel had graduated from the University of Texas and was in Guadalajara for medical school, he was surprised to find a complete stranger sitting on his battered and dusty Volkswagen. “He had seen my Longhorns sticker and was thrilled to find somebody else in Mexico who loved the University of Texas. “That’s when our friendship started and it ... (click for more)