Chattanooga Now Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival this weekend

Chattanooga Now Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival this weekend

January 13th, 2012 by Staff Report in Chattnow Outabout

IF YOU GO

Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival

When: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Birchwood Elementary School, 5623 Highway 60, and Hiwassee Refuge (Highway 60 between Dayton and Cleveland; signs will be posted).

Admission: Free.

Phone: 931-484-9571, 615-799-8095, 931-648-0911.

Website: www.tncranefestival.org.

Dinner with Audubon

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; reception and silent auction start at 6:30 p.m.; Brian "Fox" Ellis program follows at 8:15 p.m.

Where: Rhea County Welcome Center, 107 Main St., Dayton, Tenn.

Admission: $27 (cost of a TWRA hunting and fishing license).

Phone: 615-831-9311, ext. 115.

Website: www.tncranefestival.org.

The Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival will draw the expected flocks of birds and birdwatchers this weekend, but this year's event has an added attraction.

Storyteller and author Brian "Fox" Ellis will offer a portrayal of noted author and conservationist John James Audubon during a dinner Saturday night at the Rhea County Welcome Center. Assuming the persona of Audubon, Ellis will discuss history, ecology, art and literature.

Ellis also will deliver talks and a workshop Saturday and Sunday at the two sites where festival events take place.

According to organizers, it is only since the 1990s that tens of thousands of sandhill cranes have been migrating through or spending the winter in Tennessee. The sheer number of these large birds, which have a 6-foot wingspan, makes this wildlife gathering like no other in the state.

The birds touch down November through February at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers, known as the Hiwassee Refuge. A few whooping cranes usually accompany the sandhills, and bald eagles also are regularly seen.

Although the observation deck at the refuge is open year-round for wildlife viewing, the annual festival highlights the sandhill spectacle with speakers, workshops, demonstrations, films and children's activities, as well as viewing with spotting scopes and running commentary by experts.

Primary sponsors are the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennessee Ornithological Society and the Mapp Foundation.

SCHEDULE

Birchwood Elementary School library

Saturday

* 9 a.m. Butterflies and How To Attract Them (Bill Haley)

* 9:30 a.m. The Cranes of Tennessee: A Crash Course (Melinda Welton)

* 10:15 a.m. Snakes and Other Critters of Tennessee (Steve Snow)

* 11 a.m. Crane Tales (Brian "Fox" Ellis)

* 1 p.m. Recovery to the Bald Eagle to Tennessee (Bob Hatcher)

* 3:45 p.m. Writers Workshop (Brian "Fox" Ellis)

Sunday

* 9 a.m. Operation Migration film screening, "Hope Takes Wing"

* 10 a.m. The Cranes of Tennessee: A Crash Course (Melinda Welton)

* 11 a.m. Food for Winter Birds (Randy Hedgepath)

* Noon. Film screening, "Green Fire! Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time"

* 1 p.m. Operation Migration film screening, "Hope Takes Wing"

* * * * *

Birchwood Elementary School gym

Saturday

* 9 a.m. Kids activities, vendors, sponsors, including Joel Blevins' egg painting (all day)

* 2 p.m. Adventures With John Audubon (Brian "Fox" Ellis)

* 3 p.m. Live raptor show with American Eagle Foundation

* 3:45 p.m. Music by Tom Morgan, Don King & Friends

Sunday

* 9 a.m. Kids activities, vendors, sponsors, including Joel Blevins' egg painting (all day)

* Noon. Crane Tales (Brian "Fox" Ellis)

* 2 p.m. Adventures With John Audubon (Brian "Fox" Ellis)

* * * * *

Cherokee Memorial at Hiwassee Refuge

Saturday

* 9 a.m. American Indian artifacts and culture displays (all day)

* 10 a.m. Arrowhead making demonstration with local flintknappers

* 2 p.m. Fingerweaving demonstration

Sunday

* 9 a.m. American Indian artifacts and culture displays (all day)

* 2 p.m. Fingerweaving demonstration

* 3:30 p.m. Cherokee Tales (Brian "Fox" Ellis)