Thousands of bird enthusiasts will be heading to Othello at the end of the month for the Sandhill Crane Festival.
The 2015 festival is March 27-29. The event has drawn more than 10,000 people from around the country, as well as from around the world, in past years.
The three-day event features birding and other wildlife tours, environmental lectures and kids activities. The festival is supported by the city of Othello through tourism funds and by the Grant County Conservation District.
Admission to the festival is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors. Children are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
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This year’s event kicks off with a Potholes Reservoir Boat Birding Tour. The tour departs from MarDon Resort, 8198 Highway 262. It will explore the bays where waterfowl, grebes, shorebirds, herons and eagles might be found.
Other tours being offered are the Lower Crab Creek Birding Tour and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Tour, in addition to various crane viewing tours. All depart from Stevens Funeral Home, 511 S. Seventh St.
A spaghetti feed will be held at the Eagles Lodge, 127 E. Larch St., at 5 p.m. Cost is $10 per person.
Roy W. Lowe will give a free presentation, “Seabird Conservation on the Oregon Coast,” from 8:15 to 9 p.m. at Stevens Funeral Home.
The Othello Rotary Club breakfast is from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Othello High School, 340 S. Seventh St. Breakfast costs $5 for a small plate and $7 for a large plate.
Activities will take place at the high school throughout the day. Attendees will be able to view wildlife-related exhibits and commercial displays.
This year’s festival also features a number of kid-friendly activities, including crafts and activities such as face painting.
Tours include a Puget Sound Energy tour, a Biking for Cranes tour and a number of crane-viewing tours. All Saturday tours will depart from the main gym doors in the high school parking lot.
Lectures cover topics such as song birds, sage-grouse, native plants and the Ice Age Floods.
The Washington State Raptor Club will also be at this year’s festival. Children and adults will have the opportunity to see hawks, owls and eagles up close.
A banquet and silent auction to support the festival is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Othello High School corridor. Featured speaker Scott Burns will discuss the Missoula Floods. Tickets to the banquet cost $28 per person.
Tours include a Wahluke Slope Birding tour, a Columns and Cameras tour and a Palouse Falls tour. Tours will depart from the high school.