Sandhill Cranes are a species of large crane of North America & NE Siberia. Their winter migration takes them south to the Hiwassee Refuge area, Nebraska then continue south to New Mexico. They have a very unique trumpeting call, red forehead, white cheeks & long dark pointed beaks. The air was filled with their cries and calls to each other. The Hiwassee region recently had unprecedented flooding that flooded their habitat. As a result, we were unable to see them up close. The refuge is enclosed by a chain-link fence to protect the birds. Visitors are not allowed to walk beyond the fence. I was using a 400mm lens; it was not long enough to capture them from my position behind the fence. I highly recommend a trip to view these spectacular birds. They have a Sandhill Crane festival every January; see the web site for details.
The Hiwassee Refuge is also steeped in Native American history, lying near the center of Cherokee Nation's ancestral lands, which once stretched into Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Blythe Ferry, one of the debarkation points for the Cherokee Forced Removal (Trail of Tears), is now home to the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park. I highly recommend taking the time to visit this memorial. http://www.tnwatchablewildlife.org/watchareadetails.cfm?uid=09071608273977728®ion=Hiwassee_Refuge&statearea=East_Tennessee