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





2018 Application Period For Peregrine Falcon Trapping For Falconry Usage To Begin July 1

The 2018 application period for the trapping of a peregrine falcon to be used in falconry will begin July 1, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced. The number of permits to be allowed for the taking of peregrine falcons to be used in falconry has increased from one to five in 2018 as announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The TWRA will award the ... (click for more)

Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program Planned For Fall 2018

In an effort to combat to the invasive Asian carp species, a commercial harvest incentive program will be developed in the fall of 2018. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s request of $500,000 budget expansion from the Marine Fuel Tax Fund was approved at the May meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. This will provide two years of funding for the program. ... (click for more)

Former County Mayor, Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey Dies

Former County Mayor and Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey has died after a recent illness. Mr. Ramsey held a number of top government posts after leaving his strawberry farm at Harrison and going into politics. He was a major factor in the development of the Enterprise South Industrial Park and landing Volkswagen as its main tenant. He served in the state legislature and was ... (click for more)

Gerald McCormick Pulling Out Of House Race; Greg Martin, Tony Sanders, Robin Smith Eye Post

Former House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick has decided to pull out of the House District 26 race and take a position with an engineering firm in Nashville. Among the top contenders considering the post are County Commissioner Greg Martin, former county Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders and former state GOP Chairman Robin Smith.  He told the Chattanooga Times Free ... (click for more)

Will Chattanooga Miss Another Reinvestment Opportunity?

In April, First Tennessee Bank and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition announced an agreement on a $3.9 billion reinvestment plan for economic development in low to moderate income communities under the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. The Chattanooga Times Free Press soon followed with an article reviewing the plan in depth. The plan presented Chattanooga, as well as ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Are We Like Nazis?

Four years after William Styron’s best-seller ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ had achieved the highest height of an atrocity that the literary world had known at the time, a little girl who was birthed the same year as the book (1979) was cast as Meryl Streep’s daughter in the movie. The four-year-old blonde knew nothing about evil, not to mention the Holocaust, but she became enamored with ... (click for more)