4/3/2013 2:40:00 PM Festivities are for the birds ... and the people
Spring means the return of sandhill cranes to central Washington and the Othello community is preparing to host the 16th annual festival to celebrate. Hundreds of people from all over the Northwest attend the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival every spring, which features lectures, tours and activities for families. The event is usually sponsored in late March, but organizers moved it to the first weekend in April this year to accommodate speaker schedules. Events kick off the afternoon of April 5 with boat tours on Potholes Reservoir and a "Biking for Cranes" tour. Visitors will enjoy featured speaker Dr. Richard Johnson, an ornithologist from WSU, Friday night. Saturday's events include tours of burrowing owl and ground squirrel habitats, tours that feature geology shaped by prehistoric flooding, tours of prime crane viewing locations and dozens of lectures at Othello High School. Lecture topics this year will cover everything from crane biology to wildlife photography. (For a full listing of speakers, tours, and events, please view the brochure on the website.) Idie Ulsh will be the banquet speaker Saturday night during the silent auction. Vendors, children's activities and the opportunity to view raptors up close and in person will be also available throughout the day Saturday, April 6. More tours are available Sunday. The Othello farming community plays a central role in supporting crane migration each year. Cranes and other migrating birds feast on corn and grain left over from last year's harvest and some fields are left open through the migration season to allow birds the chance to rest during their travels. For more information about tours, lectures and activities at the festival, please visit www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org or on Facebook. Please remember tours fill up quickly, so register today.