OTHELLO — Sandhill cranes, natural history, wildlife, wildflowers, natural photography, conservation and birdwatching tours are among the attractions this weekend at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival.
Tours begin Friday night; lectures and tours are scheduled for Saturday and more tours for Sunday. On Saturday the Othello High School gym will be filled with information and craft booths.
March is prime time for bird migration in the Columbia Basin, and the festival features bird tours, mostly by vehicle, others by boat and bicycle. Other tours examine working agriculture, an archaeological dig site, eastern Washington geology and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
The festival has been around for 22 years, long enough to establish some traditions of its own, and one of those is featured speakers Friday and Saturday nights. Tim Boyer is the Friday speaker; his lecture is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. at OHS. He will be talking about bird migration, and why different birds have different migration patterns.
Cathy Nowak is the featured speaker at the annual banquet and fundraising silent auction, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the OHS cafeteria. Nowak, a wildlife biologist, will be talking about her work observing sandhill cranes at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area near La Grande, Oregon.
Tours are scheduled all three days. Friday and Saturday tours concentrate on birdwatching, while Sunday’s schedule includes geology tours to Dry Falls State Park, Hanford Reach and Palouse Falls. An “urban walk” is scheduled at 2 p.m. Saturday from OHS to Kiwanis Park; walkers will get a look at the way wildlife lives in town. The Othello Community Museum will be open Saturday and Sunday.
Lectures are scheduled for all day Saturday at OHS. Lectures cover a wide range of subjects, from wolves to desert wildflowers, Ice Age floods, trumpeter swans to the impact of wildfires. Other lectures cover wildlife photography, using technology in birdwatching, the most recent theories in bird evolution, wildlife habitat on Midway Island, amphibians and reptiles in the Columbia Basin, among many other subjects.
The Raptor Club from Washington State University will bring some of the birds in their care. The birds and Raptor Club members will be in the OHS gym to answer questions and give a presentation. The nature documentary “The Secret Life of the Forest” is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Reichert’s Showhouse, 130 N. Broadway Ave.
The Othello Eagles will sponsor a spaghetti dinner Friday night at 5 p.m. at the lodge, 127 E. Larch St. The Othello Rotary chapter will sponsor breakfast from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the OHS cafeteria. The Othello Senior Center will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the OHS auxiliary gym.