What a menagerie all in one place: Tundra swans, golden eagles, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, white pelicans and many species of ducks. Right now there are tens of thousands of migratory birds wintering at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. One of the best ways to see them is at the 28th annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival on Jan. 13-14 in the community of Birchwood in Meigs County. This is an impressive spectacle of many species of wildlife, both birds and some land-based mammals. Events and programs will run from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on both days.

The festival is a two-fold celebration: First, visitors can experience many thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate through or spend the winter in and around the Hiwassee Refuge; secondly, it is an opportunity to focus attention on the rich Native American history of the area, especially the Cherokee Removal Memorial.

Don’t miss the live raptor show on Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). The school library will offer continuous films and presentations about Tennessee wildlife. For more information go to www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds/sandhill-crane-festival.html.

The youth-only waterfowl hunts at Bogota and Thorny Cypress WMAs (in Dyer County) are set for two Saturdays, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. Hunters ages 6-15 accompanied by an adult are eligible. The drawings for the duck blind sites will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 22 onsite and in person at the Dyersburg work base.

Young hunters statewide do not have to be present; they can mail in their information before the drawing takes place. Postal cards with personal information and blind choices can be sent to: TWRA, 355 Menzies Road, Dyersburg, TN 38924. For more information go to www.tnwildlife.org and see Bogota WMA section of the waterfowl hunting guide.

Your best photographs of wildlife native to Tennessee, or fishing, boating and hunting activities in Tennessee could be good enough for publication in Tennessee Wildlife magazine. The winners of the 2017-2018 photo contest will appear in next year’s calendar edition of the magazine in August; and the photographers will earn $60 per photograph.

The deadline for submissions is March 19, 2018. The format is horizontal digital images on disc (no prints) in JPEG; high resolution (300 dpi) sized as an 8-1/2x11 is required. Each disc submitted must have the name of the photographer, address and telephone number; discs cannot be returned. Photographers may submit up to 10 entries each year.

Entries can be mailed to: Tennessee Wildlife Magazine, Calendar Issue, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. For more information go to the older news section of www.tnwild life.org. Tennessee Wildlife is the official magazine for the TWRA. Subscription rates for Tennessee.

Email outdoors columnist Tom Wiest at wiest.tom@gmail.com with your outdoor news and comments.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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