CONTACT: Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association
PHONE: 256.350.3500 / 800.648.5381

Celebrating Cranes in Decatur Jan. 13-15

Decatur, Ala. – Over 14,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes spend the winter each year at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge (WNWR) in Decatur, Ala. In celebration of the winter migration of these long-legged and long-necked birds, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association hosts a three-day event offering a variety of indoor and outdoor activities appealing to people of all ages. The 2023 Festival of the Cranes will be held January 13-15 with activities at WNWR and in various venues within downtown Decatur.

Festival of the Cranes has become a popular event regardless of the festivalgoer’s birding experience. There are activities for experienced birders, for those with little to no birding knowledge and for anyone who would like to learn more about birding and other wildlife that call the Refuge home. During the three-day event, guests are invited to visit the WNWR Observation Building to view thousands of Sandhill cranes along with several Whooping cranes, ducks, geese, raptors and perhaps a bald eagle from the comfort of the heated building. There are bleachers and spotting scopes available along with volunteers and staff standing by to answer questions. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring a camera and binoculars. 

Additional activities scheduled at WNWR include a morning walk to see cranes and other waterfowl in their natural habitat, an introduction to birding and outdoor walk around the visitor center grounds and a periodic art demo by Alabama artist Timothy M. Joe. 

The Princess Theatre, Cook Museum of Natural Science, Old State Bank, Carnegie Visual Art Center, Decatur Public Library and Alabama Center for the Arts are also offering special events in conjunction with Festival of the Cranes. The schedule of events includes a live concert by Three On A String, a science show by magician and environmentalist Steve Trash, live raptors shows, latest news on crane conservation, watercolor workshops and much more. 

Some activities require the purchase of a ticket. For more information on the Festival of the Cranes including a schedule of events, visit or follow Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association – WWRA on Facebook for the latest updates. 

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established on July 7, 1938 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first National Wildlife Refuge placed on a multi-purpose reservoir to provide habitat for wintering and migrating birds. Covering 35,000 acres, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population. The Refuge also supports the state’s largest concentration of Sandhill Cranes and the endangered Whooping Crane. For more information on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, visit  

About Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA)
AMLA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the travel industry within the 16 northernmost counties of the state. It is supported by 500-plus members consisting of chambers of commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, attractions, campgrounds, festivals, communities, counties, golf courses, restaurants, tour operators, accommodations, vendors, financial institutions and individuals. Counties included within the AMLA region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston. Additional information on North Alabama destinations, accommodations and special events is available by calling 800.648.5381 or by visiting Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @VisitNorthAL and like us at