Today I am wrapping up this series of posts about the Sand Hill Cranes at Tennessee’s Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge near Dayton, TN. I took these pictures on December 24, 2011. There were nearly a thousand of the cranes there at the refuge. The refuge has a series of open grassy pastures, planted corn fields with drying corn on the stalks, and a small lake. There is a viewing platform where visitors are allowed to watch the cranes. The cranes roam , graze, and fly freely. During crane season (Winter and early Spring), visitors must stay at the platform. There is a small parking lot and no services except for two construction-type portable restrooms. There is no admission fee or parking charge. Dayton is fairly close to the refuge so visitors can find places to stay or eat there in town. Chattanooga is about 40 miles away as well.
The cranes are huge! Several flew right over the viewing platform. When in flight, the cranes are similar to the Great Blue Herons. The Sand-Hill Cranes migrate from Northern U.S. and Canada to the Southern states where it is warmer. Because these cranes naturally came around the Tennessee River and Dayton area fields, the State of Tennessee decided to create a refuge where the cranes could stay for the Winter if they wanted to do so. Corn is planted on site to help feed these grain and plant eating birds. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!