An Asian hooded crane, a rare bird normally found China, Japan and Southeast Asia, was recently spotted in southeast Tennessee, at the Hiwassee Refuge.
The Asian hooded crane, clearly quite a long ways from home, was spotted hanging out with a group of sandhill cranes that have made the refuge their residence for the winter. Asian hooded cranes are a rare enough site even in Asia, much less Tennessee – so, naturally, hundreds of bird-watchers have stopped by the Hiwassee Refuge to check out the rare crane.
“It’s a great thrill,” Melinda Welton, conservation chair for the Tennessee Ornithological Society, told Reuters. “People are coming in from all over the country to see this bird. He has had more than 700 people come and visit from all over the country to see this bird. People have come from 26 states and from two countries, including Russia.”
The majority of Asian hooded cranes normally do their wintering in Japan, and their nesting usually takes place in Russia or China. Welton says that this particular crane took a wrong turn, but he doesn’t seem too unhappy about his new environment – he’s even made a few friends.
“There have been other records of birds that take a wrong turn,” Welton explained. “And now that he’s on the North American continent, it looks like he’s associating with his closest relatives.”