Sandhill Crane festival delivers for spectators - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Sandhill Crane festival delivers for spectators

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Each winter the rural community of Birchwood sees an influx of Sandhill Cranes, more specifically, about 20,000 of them throughout the season.

Beginning in the early 90s, the recovering population of the Eastern Sandhill Cranes began stopping at the Hiwassee Refuge on their way to and from their wintering grounds in Georgia and Florida.  

The cranes found the refuge to be a perfect spot to temporarily call home, mostly thanks to the TWRA'S management of the 6,000 acres which sits on the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers.

"Its a true wildlife success story where you took a species that was once threatened and brought it back. Now they estimate 90,000 in the fly away," TWRA spokesman, Dan Hick says.

This year marked the 23rd year for the festival. Organizers say as many as 12,000 Sandhill Cranes live at the refuge through the entire winter.

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