A few months ago, Sarah and I were invited to talk about birds at the Sandhill Crane Festival in Othello, Washington. Prior to hearing about this event, I knew very little about this town (it's southwest of Spokane and north of the Tri-Cities). Sarah and I delivered a presentation about our book last Friday night and I gave a lecture on hummingbirds on Saturday morning. Both events were filled to capacity and we had a great time answering questions and sharing stories.
We also spent much of the weekend driving farm roads and exploring the beautiful broken country of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
With excellent directions from the local crane experts, we found this pair and hundreds more among the corn fields outside of town.
We'd also hoped to see Burrowing Owls and Long-billed Curlews. After a little driving, we found a roped-off road along an irrigation ditch.
Sure enough, a pair of owls were hanging out near their nest burrow.
In an adjacent field, several long-billed curlews were displaying in the air and resting on the ground. Success!
We can't overstate how much we enjoyed taking part in the festival. It was well-oiled machine fueled by friendly volunteers and was well-attended by enthusiastic folks of all ages. There was a lot to do both indoors and out.
A small army of experts gave lectures and tours on topics ranging from ground squirrel reintroductions to the legacy of ice age floods. Though we experienced a small portion of what was offered, we learned a lot about a part of Washington to which we can't wait to return.