News Release

January 2, 2013

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival announces featured speakers

Media Contacts:
Marie Lotz, (509) 488-2802

The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival committee is pleased to announce their featured speakers for next April’s event in central Washington.

Ornithologist Dr. Richard Johnson from the University of California at Berkeley will be speaking on April 6th.  Dr. Johnson has spent his career studying the ecology of avian and mammal species, with a particular focus on the alpine birds of the Great Basin. He is currently writing a book on the mammals of Washington state.

In consideration of the theme for next year’s 16th annual festival, “Migration,” Dr. Johnson is planning to speak about the way biologists have been unraveling the mysteries of avian migration. “We will explore the great variations in patterns among different species, how birds know when to migrate…and how patterns of migration are changing,” Johnson said. “There is still much we don’t know, but we have some revolutionary new methods that are helping to address some age-old questions.”

Johnson noted that some species practically disappear during migration until they arrive on wintering grounds, and he will be discussing the discovery that the birds themselves are carrying a record of their travels.

The festival’s Saturday night banquet speaker (April 6th) will be Idie Ulsh, a festival favorite.  Ulsh will be presenting a program titled “Feathered Architects” that discusses the amazing nest-building skills of all kinds of local birds ranging from eagles to hummingbirds. Ulsh’s enthusiasm for birds and her sense of humor are contagious; her lectures at previous Othello festivals have been packed.

In addition to her own photographs of Washington birds and their nests, she will feature photos from local photographers and the University of Puget Sound Slater Museum.
Ulsh has been in demand for years as a program speaker for bird and butterfly programs, and has presented her nesting program to Audubon chapters throughout Washington. She is the founding president of the Washington Butterfly Association and a past president of Seattle Audubon.

The Othello Sandhill Crane festival committee has been busy lining up dozens of other speakers for the free lecture series on Saturday. Geologists, ornithologists, US Fish and Wildlife employees, and other subject matter experts will be covering topics from Ice Age geology to jackrabbits at the festival…in addition to talks about Sandhill Cranes, of course. Popular tours of local wildlife, geology, and agriculture are also scheduled during the three-day event on April 5th, 6th, and 7th.

For up-to-the-minute information on speakers, events, and tours, be sure to “like” the festival’s Facebook page. The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival is a nonprofit event chaired by an all-volunteer committee, and proceeds generated by the event go toward providing the following year’s festival activities.