Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (19th Annual)

Just got back from our first time attending the Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (March 18-20).

Years ago we were in the Columbia Basin area to find Sandhill Cranes and were fortunate enough to see thousands of them. A few photos from that trip are included in our book, A Kid’s Guide to Birding. The natural landscape there is spectacular on its own, but with huge numbers of cranes, it was like something you would only imagine existing in the earlier days of exploration.

So when an invitation to speak at the festival came from the organizers in Othello, we were more than happy to head back out to the area.

So let me tell you about this festival. It is fantastic! The festival’s organizers put a lot of effort and careful planning into the event. There were regular scheduled buses and vans taking people out to the best wildlife viewing areas (which also included private agricultural areas) as well as areas of geological interest. Breakfast was served on Saturday and there was a Banquet in the evening along with one of the keynote speakers. All the speakers had impressive credentials and did great presentations. There were displays, book sales, and more. But what impressed me the most was the incredible community involvement, with both young and old involved in all sorts of ways. I was beginning to wonder if there was a town ordinance that required everyone to be involved, because it seemed like everyone and every organization had some role in helping the event come together.

So make plans to be there for the next one, the “20th annual” Sandhill Crane Festival in 2017. But book early because when we tried, ever hotel in the area was fully booked!

Here are a few photos from the trip.

Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Sign on the way into Othello. Nothing better than a community that appreciates its wildlife.





Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Othello, Washington.
Coyote in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Howling Coyote in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. A little hard to spot, but near the center of the photo.
The Crab Creek road
The Crab Creek road southwest of Othello


It is very quit out in this landscape, apart from bird song, and in this instance the huge sound of thousands of geese.
It is very quiet out in this landscape — apart from bird song, and in this instance, the huge sound of thousands of geese.
Geese, Crab Creek
Large flock of geese flying near the Crab Creek area.
American kestrel
American kestrel
Western Meadowlark
Western meadowlark. This bird has an amazing ability to project sound.
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier — an elegant looking raptor that sometimes flies low and slow while hunting.
Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival brochure
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival brochure with the “Kid’s Guide to Birding” announcement.
Porcupine in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
A porcupine — normally nocturnal, so this is an unexpected site.
When we arrived, organizer Marie Lotz had arranged a special and unexpected private tour for us by Randy Hill, former USFWS biologist, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the wildlife.
When we arrived, organizer Marie Lotz had arranged a special and unexpected private tour for us with Randy Hill, former USFWS biologist, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the wildlife.
Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike. These are wanna-be raptors that are known for impaling their prey on thorns and barbed wire.
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes in corn field. They are almost 3.5ft tall and have a loud and cool Jurassic Park sound that is impressive even when they are only a few of them around. But being a very social bird, they often gather in the thousands.


An Osprey Dive

Lorenzo was invited by Everett Parks & Recreation to lead the Aquanauts Science Camp on a birding trip to Spencer Island (July 21, 2015). Bird sightings included Great Blue Herons, Cedar Waxwings, Killdeer, Caspian Terns, Marsh Wrens, Red-wing blackbirds, and Belted Kingfishers. The highlight was Osprey doing repeated dives for fish as shown in the photo sequence taken by Lorenzo. Notice in image #3 how the Osprey goes down with feet first before reaching the water.

Spencer Island
is a 400-acre island in the Snohomish River estuary.

Hawk Mountain

Juvenile Red-Tail Hawk

Hawk Mountain is an amazing place you may have read about. Definitely on my bucket list of birding places to visit.

I was watching this video — Birding Adventures TV Extreme Raptors — and thought it would be good to share it.

(There’s a bit much product placement in this video, but its well done).

Christmas Bird Count for Kids

Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count for Kids

Plan early. Here’s something for kids: “The Christmas Bird Count for Kids is one of these important new volunteer movements that is gaining popularity across North America from Alaska to Florida. Thanks to some of that exhilarating Northern California innovation and creativity from co-founders Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie in Sonoma, along with their partner Bird Studies Canada, this holiday event is sweeping North America.”

Find out more at: http://ebird.org/content/ybn/news/cbc4kids/

And: http://www.sonomabirding.com/cbc4kids_history.html

Tahoma Audubon Kids’ Expedition Day Birdathon Field Trip

Tahoma Audubon Kids' Expedition Day Birdathon Field Trip

Lorenzo leading Tahoma Audubon’s Kid’s Expedition Day 2013 Birdathon Field Trip. Despite the rainy forecast, we had 10 enthusiastic briders come out to participate. Which was great because got to see a lot of great bird species on the trip:

American Bittern
American Goldfinch
American Robins
Barn Swallows
Brown Tree Creeper
Canada Geese
Caspian Terns
Cedar Wax wings
Cinnamon Teal
Cliff Swallow
Common Yellow Throat
Eagles (2)
European Starling
Great Blue Harons
Great Horned Owl
Hooded Merganser
Mallard Duck
Marsh Wren
Northern Shoveler
Pied-billed Grebe
Song Sparrow
Spotted Sandpiper
Spotted Towhee
Swainson’s Thrush
Tree Swallows
Violet-Green Swallows




Wellington Elementary

Lorenzo explaining birding to a very enthusiastic class of 2nd-graders. The next presentation will be May 18th for Eastside Audubon Society, then May 25th at Camano Island State Park (CISP amphitheater, 7:30), then May 27th a guided birding walk (Audubon fundraiser) at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (8:00 am – 11 am)

Eastside Audubon

Eastside Audubon announcement

Thirteen-year-old Lorenzo Rohani shares his fascination with birds and covers the basics of birding from the young birder’s point of view.


  • Family Activity
  • Program Night
When May 18, 2013
from 02:30 p.m. to 04:30 p.m.
Event Location Issaquah Valley Elementary School
Street Address 555 NW Holly Street
City Issaquah
Contact Name Eastside Audubon Office
Contact Email office@eastsideaudubon.org
Contact Phone 425-576-8805
Add event to calendar vCal


Lorenzo and his dad, Michael Rohani, have traveled thousands of miles together birding and photographing birds. Their book, A Kid’s Guide to Birding, is full of tips for kids about how to get started in birding, where to find birds, and ways to identify them. It also shows projects you can do to bring birds into your own back yard.

Lorenzo loves birds and is always learning more fun facts about them. He’ll tell about the fun he’s had looking at birds and share his beautiful photographs. Grownups say his talk is as entertaining and informative for them as it is for kids.

To read Lorenzo’s blog and learn more about him, visit his website, kidsbirding.com.

Be sure to join Eastside Audubon and Lorenzo Rohani for an unforgettable afternoon.

Free. Open to the public.

Doors open at 2:30 p.m. for hospitality.

Program begins at 3 p.m.