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Sandhill Crane Festival to feature two keynote speakers

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Posted: Friday, November 3, 2017 10:30 am

The Lodi Sandhill Crane Association celebrates the return of the birds each fall with a three-day festival, featuring guest speakers, art presentations and classes, tours to view the cranes in their natural habitat and more.

The 21st annual Sandhill Crane Festival, which takes place from Friday, Nov. 3 to Sunday, Nov. 5 at Hutchins Street Square, will feature two keynote speakers over the course of the weekend, with free general admission and varying costs for the tours.

Dr. Gary Ivey, a research associate with the International Crane Foundation, will give a presentation entitled “Sandhill Cranes of the Pacific Flyway,” on Saturday, although this is by no means his first time at the festival.

“I’ve spoken at the festival every other year since it started in 1996,” Ivey said.

In his 35 years working with birds, particularly waterfowl, Ivey has worked as a biologist at several wildlife refuges, including a 15-year tenure at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Princeton, Ore. He wrote his master’s thesis on the Sandhill crane’s nesting habits, and studied their wintering ecology in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for his doctorate’s degree, earning both degrees at Oregon State University. Ivey credits his father for sparking his interest in birds at a young age, as the two were fond of spending time together exploring nature.

“My father was always really interested in birds, I spent a lot of time hunting and fishing with him in the outdoors,” Ivey said.

Ivey’s presentation at this year’s Sandhill Crane Festival will cover the birds’ migration routes, breeding and wintering areas as well as their conservation needs. He will also share the most recent results from his research on the Pacific Flyway, which includes the San Joaquin Delta. He also plans to catch up with a few old friends, with whom he shares a common interest in both cranes and wildlife conservation.

“I’m looking forward to seeing old friends I know in the area who are involved with the festival, and I’ll try to answer all of the questions that anybody may have,” Ivey said.

Kate Marianchild’s Sunday presentation, “Extraordinary Ordinary Birds of California’s Oak Woodlands,” will be her first appearance at the festival. The presentation will begin with the history of the valley oak woodlands and their importance to California’s Central Valley.

“It is said that at one time, people could walk from the northern end of the Central Valley to the southern end without ever leaving the shade,” Marianchild said.

Aside from speaking at wildlife-related events, Marianchild writes books such as “Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals among California’s Oaks,” leads nature walks, teaches classes and illustrates. Since 2001, she has lived in a wooden yurt, approximately 25 feet in diameter, allowing her to spend as much time in nature as possible. Although her love for nature began as a young child, she did not begin to pursue it seriously until later in her life.

“I’ve always loved nature, ever since I was a kid roaming the trails in Malibu, but I didn’t rediscover that love until my late 40s, and I didn’t start studying it seriously until I moved to the oak woodland in 2001, where I fell utterly in love for the first time. Birds are my first love, and the more I learned about the ‘ordinary, everyday’ birds we find all around up in the oak woodlands, the more fascinating things I discovered about them,” Marianchild said.

As this is her first time at the Sandhill Crane Festival, Marianchild is excited to learn all she can about the birds, looking for comparisons with the egrets and great blue herons with which she is more familiar. She will also have signed copies of her book for sale, as well as oak identification charts and close-focusing binoculars.

“I’d like to know about their diet, mating system, migration distance, where they breed, what their vocalizations mean, what sort of courtship rituals they have and what hunting strategies they use. I will also have a table at the festival, where I’ll sign and sell copies of my book, it’s been one of my publisher’s bet sellers since it came out three years ago,” Marianchild said.

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