64.6 F
Mobile
58.4 F
Huntsville
63.2 F
Birmingham
44.7 F
Montgomery

Visit Decatur for the annual Festival of the Cranes

The Festival of the Cranes is an annual three-day event that takes place in January at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur to celebrate the winter migration of over 14,000 Sandhill cranes, as well as endangered Whooping cranes. 

Per the refuge’s mission statement “to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and Satellite Refuges of North Alabama,” it was established in 1998 in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its purpose is “to promote conservation, awareness, and appreciation of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and to provide assistance to environmental education programs and other conservation efforts on the Refuge.”

The free event begins Friday, January 13 and goes through Sunday, January 15. The festival offers many activities for experienced birders as well as for those who would like to learn more about these elegant cranes, including storytelling, photography workshops, music, live raptors, children’s activities and films, in addition to thousands of Sandhill cranes and the endangered Whooping cranes, along with ducks, geese, bald eagles, and so many other forms of wildlife that call the refuge home.

Below is a list of events and activities during The 2023 Festival of the Cranes:

(Decatur Morgan County Tourism/Contributed)

WNWR Visitor Center

Saturday, Jan. 14

8:00 a.m.

Join former Refuge Manager Dwight Cooley on a morning bird walk.

9:00 a.m.

Learn the basics of birding on a bird walk around the visitor center with Christopher Joe for Birding 101.

Sunday, Jan. 15

9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Periodic art demos with artist Timothy M. Joe, who will be painting various nature scenes around the visitor center

Saturday + Sunday

9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Visit the Observation Building to view thousands of Sandhill cranes, waterfowl, geese, raptors and maybe even a bald eagle from the comfort of a heated building (limited capacity). 

Princess Theatre

Friday, Jan. 13

7:00 p.m.

Enjoy an evening of entertainment with the musical group Three on a String.

Saturday, Jan. 14

9:00 a.m.

Operation Migration with Canadian naturalist Joe Duff

11:00 a.m. 

View a selection of live raptors with Wings to Soar.

1:00 p.m.

Enjoy photographs of the California Condor from photographer Andrew Orr.

2:30 p.m.

View a selection of live raptors with Wings to Soar.

6:00 p.m.

Totally Rockin’ Environmental Science Show with Steve Trash; a children’s program

Sunday, Jan. 15

11:00 a.m.

Operation Migration with Canadian naturalist Joe Duff

12:30 p.m.

View a selection of live raptors with Wings to Soar.

2:00 p.m.

Enjoy a journey of photographs from the Arctic to Antarctica with photographer Andrew Orr.

3:30 p.m.

View a selection of live raptors with Wings to Soar.

Alabama Center for the Arts

Saturday, Jan. 14

11:00 a.m.

Connecting with Birds and Nature with Canadian naturalist Joe Duff

11:00 a.m.

Christopher Joe presents Connecting with Birds and Nature

1:00 p.m.

A one-and-a-half-hour Junior Duck Stamp Workshop with Tammie Clark; supplies and contest entry guidelines provided

3:00 p.m.

Learn about the history of the International Crane Foundation with George Archibald and Richard Beilfuss.

Sunday, Jan. 15

11:00 a.m.

A hands-on reptile and amphibian experience with Herpetologist and nature lover Jimmy Stiles

1:00 p.m.

Learn about the history of the International Crane Foundation with George Archibald and Richard Beilfuss.

3:00 p.m.

A hands-on reptile and amphibian experience with Herpetologist and nature lover Jimmy Stiles

Saturday + Sunday

11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

The International Crane Foundation Booth and  the North Alabama Zoological Society Booth will be set up in the Performing Arts Building Lobby.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

Friday, Jan. 13

10:30 a.m.

Meet and Greet “Hope” the Whooping Crane Mascot

Saturday, Jan. 14

10:00 a.m.

Wild about Whoopers

10:00 a.m.-1:00 pm., on the hour

Cool Cranes, Science on the Spot

10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Whooping Crane selfie station

Craft: Coloring activity

All Day

Crane Dance Party

The Whoopers of Wheeler Video

Decatur Public Library

Friday, Jan. 13

2:00 p.m.

Story Time at Delano Park with Ms. Mary from DPL and Jessie from the International Crane Foundation; includes an appearance from Hope the IFC mascot

Saturday, Jan. 14

12:30 p.m.

Free meet and greet photo opportunity with Hope the IFC mascot

Sunday, Jan. 15

2:30 p.m.

Story time with Zellie the Zoologist from Magical Memories, AL

Saturday + Sunday

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Assorted kids’ crane activities in the library

The Old State Bank

Friday, Jan. 13

9:30-11:30 a.m.

Open for tours and Student Art Show

Saturday, Jan. 14

9:30-11:30 a.m.

Student Art Show

Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Saturday, Jan. 14

9:00-11:00 a.m.

Watercolor Workshop with Sophie McVicar; cost TBD

1:00-3:00 p.m.

Watercolor/Gouache Workshop with Huntsville artist Timothy Joe

Sunday, Jan. 15

12:00-3:00 p.m.

Gallery Art Show by wildlife artist, Sophie McVicar; $35, limited availability

Plan your next adventure to Decatur / Morgan County by visiting VisitDecaturAL.org.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

Don’t miss out!  Subscribe today to have Alabama’s leading headlines delivered to your inbox.