Sandhill Crane Festival planned March 28-30 in Othello

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldMarch 25, 2014 

Sandhill Cranes photographed between Connell and Othello in early March.

JOHN CLEMENT

The Sandhill cranes are coming.

That means it's time to load up the kids into the car take a drive north to Othello for its annual Sandhill Crane Festival, which is March 28-30.

Sandhill cranes are large migrating birds that live in open habitats as they fly north in spring from the warmer southern climates.

They are elegant creatures with long legs and necks, and it is that long stretch of neck that houses the windpipes they use to trumpet their arrivals wherever they go.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, Sandhill cranes are gray-bodies birds with crimson-capped heads. They breed in open wetland habitats and during migration are drawn to open farmland, which makes the Othello region an attractive stop for the birds.

The Othello festival features a schedule of events each day that includes biking tours, a gallery of crane art at the Old Hotel, various energy tours, waterbird lectures, crane viewing tours and children's programs.

A schedule of events is available at www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org.

There also will be featured speakers for the three-day event like Noah Stryker, the author of Among Penguins. Also appearing will be Sarah Swanson and Max Smith, the authors of Must-See Birds of the Pacific Northwest

About 20,000 cranes are expected to show up, and the sight-seeing tours in years past have filled up fast. Reasons for that could be that these distinctive birds have a magnificent presence. They have wingspans of up to 8 feet and they stand about four feet tall. Their lineage goes back 10 million years.

Their pit stop in the cornfields of Othello will be for a few days before they continue their journey to Alaska for the summer.

For more information, call the Othello Chamber of Commerce at 509-488-2683.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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