A Hooded Crane has been identified foraging with sandhill cranes at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in east Tennessee. This crane species breeds in southeastern Russian and northern China, and a large percentage of these birds winter on the Japanese island of Kyushu.
Photo credit: Walter Sturgeon. Hooded cranes wintering in Japan. Birds with brownish heads are immature birds. Hooded cranes have a red bare-skin patch on the top of their head covered in fine black bristles.
This is only the third account of this crane species being present in North America. In 2010, a hooded crane was identified in Idaho, and earlier this year in April, a hooded crane appeared in Nebraska. It is not known whether these bird sightings are related.
Hooded cranes. Photo credit: Walter Sturgeon
The roads and fields of the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge are closed to visitors during the winter months providing refuge for many wintering birds and other wildlife. Sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, bald eagles, the hooded crane, and many other birds species can be viewed from the observation platform which remains available for public viewing (see link below).
Links and Resources:
Ann Paine's article on the hooded crane in Nashville's Tennessean
Rare Asian Crane report Dec 22nd, Chattanoogan.com
International Crane Foundation on Hooded Cranes
Details on the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival
Directions to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Visit my sandhill crane art: Sandhill Cranes Landing and A Peek at my Current Project