Sandhill Crane Festival is this weekend at Hiwassee Refuge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival is this weekend in East Tennessee as thousands of the birds migrate through or winter in the Hiwassee Refuge area.

Eastern sandhill cranes began stopping in the region beginning in the early 1990s on their way to and from wintering grounds in Georgia and Florida.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is the festival’s primary sponsor. The agency has managed the refuge for more than 60 years for waterfowl.

The agency says as many as 12,000 of the birds spend the winter at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers.

The festival runs from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday with free shuttle service available from the Birchwood Community Center.