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

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge’s Crane Festival Takes Flight Jan. 15-16

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 two-day event offering a variety of indoor and outdoor activities appealing to people of all ages. Set for January 15-16, 2022, Festival of the Cranes takes place at the Refuge, and along with two days of nature walks, live raptors and special programs, there are activities taking place in various locations within Decatur before and during the festival.

Now in its ninth year, 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 two-day event, guests are invited to visit the 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. 

Additional activities scheduled at WNWR include a birding 101 workshop, a one-man theater show featuring the life of President Roosevelt, latest news on crane conservation from the ICF president and CEO, a photography workshop, a presentation by a licensed and practicing falconer and more.
The Princess Theatre, Cook Museum of Natural Science, Old State Bank, Carnegie Visual Art Center and Alabama Center for the Arts are also offering special events in conjunction with Festival of the Cranes. The schedule of events includes John Paul White in concert (tickets available at, the popular Auburn University Southeastern Raptor Center presentation, a photography exhibition featuring owls and woodpeckers, art workshops, art exhibitions featuring cranes and much more.
For more information on the Festival of the Cranes including a schedule of events, visit or follow 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