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Festival of the Cranes
Over 14,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes spend the winter each year at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge (WNWR) in Decatur, Ala. In celebration of the winter migration of these long-legged and long-necked birds, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association hosts a three-day event offering a variety of indoor and outdoor activities appealing to people of all ages. The 2023 Festival of the Cranes will be held January 13-15 with activities at WNWR and in various venues within downtown Decatur.
Festival of the Cranes has become a popular event regardless of the festivalgoer’s birding experience. There are activities for experienced birders, for those with little to no birding knowledge and for anyone who would like to learn more about birding and other wildlife that call the Refuge home. During the three-day event, guests are invited to visit the WNWR Observation Building to view thousands of Sandhill cranes along with several Whooping cranes, ducks, geese, raptors and perhaps a bald eagle from the comfort of the heated building. There are bleachers and spotting scopes available along with volunteers and staff standing by to answer questions. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring a camera and binoculars.
Additional activities scheduled at WNWR include a morning walk to see cranes and other waterfowl in their natural habitat, an introduction to birding and outdoor walk around the visitor center grounds and a periodic art demo by Alabama artist Timothy M. Joe.
The Princess Theatre, Cook Museum of Natural Science, Old State Bank, Carnegie Visual Art Center, Decatur Public Library and Alabama Center for the Arts are also offering special events in conjunction with Festival of the Cranes. The schedule of events includes a live concert by Three On A String, a science show by magician and environmentalist Steve Trash, live raptors shows, latest news on crane conservation, watercolor workshops and much more.
Some activities require the purchase of a ticket. For more information on the Festival of the Cranes including a schedule of events, visit www.friendsofwheelernwr.org/festival-of-the-cranes-2023 or follow Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association – WWRA on Facebook for the latest updates.