WILDLIFE WATCHING -- The headline attraction at the annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival has already arrived for the March 27-29 series of programs, field trips and banquets based out of Othello, Wash.
Founded in 1998, the festival highlights the spring return of migrating sandhill cranes that stop over to rest at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and feed at surrounding farm fields.
Of course, plenty of other birds, including long-billed curlews and waterfowl, are enjoyed by viewers on festival field trips.
Sign up in advance, since many of the trips and sessions will fill up. Info: (866) 726-3445.
The festival is an excellent wildlife experience indoors and out. For example:
Field trips include a Potholes Reservoir boat birding tour and other birding tours at Lower Crab, the Columbia Refuge plus several tours geared specifically to seeing sandhill cranes. One of the crane tours is for bicyclists.
Seminars by experts touch on more than 35 different topics such as songs birds sing, native plants for the garden, dragonflies, sage and sharp-tailed grouse, pollinators of the shrub-steppe, butterflies, trumpeter swans, burrowing owls, Ice Age floods, ground squirrels and one not to be missed -- arachniding.
- A film about raising a young sandhill crane also will be screened.
Banquet speakers include:
- Friday, Roy Lowe -- Seabird conservation on the Oregon Coast.
- Saturday, Scott Burns -- Cataclysms on the Columbia: The Great Missoula Floods.