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One Day Event for the 2021 Festival of the Cranes

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Decatur, Ala. (December 14, 2020) – Over 14,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes spend the winter each year at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. In celebration of the winter migration of these long-legged and long-necked birds, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association hosts an event offering a variety of activities for experienced birders and anyone who would like to learn more about birding and other wildlife that call the Refuge home.

Some modifications to the annual event have been implemented as additional safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Festival of the Cranes is set for January 9 with presentations held at the Princess Theatre located at 112 2nd Avenue in downtown Decatur.

The Princess Theatre will host five events and admission to each is free. Seating is limited (due to social distancing guidelines) with first come, first served admission.

Saturday, Jan. 9 activities at the Princess Theatre

9:00 a.m. – Video presentation by Master Falconer Lauren McGough
McGough has been a licensed and practicing falconer since age 14 and has been particularly enamored with gold eagles as hunting partners, a unique branch of falconry that has only a handful of practitioners in the United States. She learned to hunt with eagles through years of living with the nomadic people of Mongolia, as featured in a 2018 segment of 60 Minutes.

10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Auburn University Southeastern Raptor Center live performance
The Southeastern Raptor Center presents their educational program to teach about birds of prey. Attendees can see hawks, eagles, falcons and owls up close while learning about habitats, conservation and ecology.

2:30 p.m. – Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History video presentation by Paul Bannick
The video presentation provides rare intimate looks into the life history of one of the world’s most charismatic birds. In the presentation, the physical features, preferred habitats, breeding cycle, hunting strategies, as well as prey and conservation issues are explored through several dozen never-before published images.

4 p.m. – Gareth Laffely live performance
Laffely is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer and producer from Gallatin, Tenn., whose music has been licensed by the Discovery Channel, NASCAR and Public Television. An award winning Native American flute player and composer, Laffely is of Mi’kmaq/Cree descent. 

5:30 p.m. – Ben Raines Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System live presentation
Raines has won more than two dozen awards for his coverage of environmental issues and natural wonders in Alabama and on the Gulf Coast and coauthored several peer reviewed papers published in scientific journals. He wrote and produced the documentary America’s Amazon, which has aired on PBS stations around the country.

In addition to the presentations at the Princess Theatre, a variety of activities are planned in the community in conjunction with Festival of the Cranes before, during and after the event. 

  • From Jan. 8 to Feb. 19, 2021, the Alabama Center for the Arts will host the Festival of the Cranes Art Exhibition. The juried show features art inspired by nature, cranes and other wildlife by students, alumni artists, faculty and staff from Calhoun Community College and Athens State University. Admission is free.
  • The Carnegie Visual Arts Center will host a bird and nature art journaling workshop led by artist Timothy Joe on Jan. 9, 2021. Two sessions are available to choose from. Session 1 is 9:30-11:30 a.m. and session 2 follows 1-3 p.m. Learn how to sharpen observation skills and use art to document what is seen in the outdoors. Registration fee is $5. For more information, visit https://www.carnegiearts.org/event/bird-nature-art-journaling-workshop/,
  • The Cook Museum of Natural Science will host festival-related events Jan. 7 through Jan. 9. In addition, the public is invited to see and learn about the newest addition to the wetland diorama in the Rivers and Streams Exhibit, a taxidermy juvenile whooping crane donated by the international Crane Foundation. Learn cool facts about different species that make their home in a wetland biome with the collectable card set. Find out why whooping cranes are so amazing in the Lunch and Learn presentation on Thursday and in the Science on the Spot presentations on Friday. On Friday and Saturday, watch a movie highlighting the conservation efforts made to save the whooping crane while trying your hand at origami cranes. The Lunch and Learn presentation is $5 for non-members. All other activities are included with the purchase of a general admission ticket. For more information, visit https://www.cookmuseum.org/calendar/wild-about-whoopers-2/?occurrence=2021-01-07. Thursday, January 7: o Wetlands Collectable Cards – All day in the exhibits o Lunch and Learn Lecture Series: Whooping Cranes from 12 – 1 pm Friday, January 8:
    o Crane Craft Corner from 10 am – 3 pm
    o Movie: Journey of the Whooping Crane at 10 am, 11 am, Noon, 1 pm and 2 pm
    o Whooping Crane Science on the Spot at 11 am, Noon, 1 pm and 2 pm
    Saturday, January 9:
    o Wetlands Collectable Cards – All day in the exhibits
    o Crane Craft Corner from 10 am – 3 pm
    o Movie: Journey of the Whooping Crane at 10 am, 11 am, Noon, 1 pm and 2 pm

The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is located at 3121 Visitor Center Road in Decatur. The observation building at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is currently closed. Two outdoor photo blinds near the visitor center parking lot and the backyard area behind the visitor center are available for viewing. 

For more information on the Festival of the Cranes, visit https://www.friendsofwheelerrefuge.com/festival-of-the-cranes-2021 or follow www.facebook.com/FOCatWheeler for the latest updates. 

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established on July 7, 1938 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first National Wildlife Refuge placed on a multi-purpose reservoir to provide habitat for wintering and migrating birds. Covering 35,000 acres, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population. The Refuge also supports the state’s largest concentration of Sandhill Cranes and the endangered Whooping Crane. For more information on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, visit http://www.fws.gov/wheeler.

Written by 49 County News.Net

December 14, 2020 at 11:55 AM

Posted in Announcements

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