OTHELLO -- The return of Sandhill cranes to Central Washington means the Sandhill Crane Festival is getting ready to start in Othello. The festival features guest speakers, tours and activities.
It kicks off Friday and ends Sunday. There is an entry fee on Saturday, $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and children, which provides access to all festival activities.
The festival was founded in 1998 to call attention to the return of the Sandhill cranes to Othello and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
The festival is a community-wide effort with more than 400 volunteers working the weekend events. In addition to the festival events, organizations are sponsoring a spaghetti feed, breakfast and baked potato bar.
Casual birders and children also will have plenty of events to attend, she said. There are several educational lectures and children's activities held at Othello High School, 340 South Seventh Ave., during the weekend.
The Potholes Reservoir Boat Tour kicks off the festivities. The tour shows the bays where waterfowl, grebes, shoebirds and eagles are found.
Aside from the Potholes reservoir tour, all Friday tours will leave from the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District Building at 735 E. Main St. A fee is charged for all Friday and Sunday tours.
Friday's featured speaker is Richard Johnson, whose presentation begins at 8:15 p.m. at Othello High School. Johnson is a professor emeritus in the field of ornithology from Washington State University.
Dennis Dauble, author of Fishes of the Columbia Basin guidebook, is speaking at 1 p.m. Saturday with a presentation called "Fish-Eating Birds and Salmon: Resources in Conflict?" Dauble is an adjunct professor at WSU Tri-Cities.
After the tours are concluded, a banquet and silent auction is scheduled, featuring guest speaker Idie Ulsh, who is known for her bird and butterfly programs. She will be speaking on "Feathered Architecture," the construction of bird nests. The banquet begins at 7:30 p.m. at the high school.
For more information, go to www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org and click on "brochure/registration download."