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'Festival of Cranes' flies into Decatur on January 13

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is the winter vacation spot for thousands of cranes.

DECATUR, Ala. — In celebration of the winter migration of over 14,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association is hosting a three-day event offering a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

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.

Some activities require the purchase of a ticket. 

For more information on the Festival of the Cranes including a schedule of events, visit the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association website.

More about Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge:

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.  

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