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Sandhill Crane Festival

November 7-9 · Hutchins Street Square · Lodi, CA

November 7-9, 2014

Hutchins Street Square · Lodi, CA

800-581-6150 ·

2009 Tour Descriptions and Schedule

2009 tour descriptions are posted for information only.  Tour registration for the 2010 Sandhill Crane Festival will open after Labor Day, September 6, 2010.

Bald Eagles by Boat

Enjoy a drive through the Sierra-Nevada foothills en route to Pardee Reservoir. There you will meet James Jones, biologist for EBMUD, and search for early arriving golden and bald eagles.

This boat tour also offers uncommon bird species not seen on other Crane Festival tours, including loons, grebes, mergansers, and bufflehead. Learn more about Pardee Recreational Area by visiting

Saturday at 7:30 AM (#7)

Saturday at 11:50 AM (#17)

Sunday at 8:30 AM (#36)

Duration: 5 hours and 10 min

Travel by Car (45 min)

Adult: $25 - Youth: $15 - Child: $10

Beginning Birding

Join an expert birder as you learn basic birding techniques in a fun and easy way in an old growth riparian habitat. Lodi Lake’s Nature Area is targeted by San Joaquin Audubon Society as the “best place” to see birds in the county.

Pick up some great tips on identifying songbirds and hawks that you can
only get by birding with a pro! Grab your binocs and be ready to learn!

Saturday at 11:15 AM (#16)

Sunday at 11:45 AM (#42)

Duration: 2 hours

Travel by Car (5 min)

Adult: $10 - Youth: $5 - Child: $3

Bird Photography with Paul Bannick

Photographer Paul Bannick, Saturday’s Featured Speaker, will lead this field trip as part of a Bird Photography Workshop. Paul will work with a small group to improve bird photography skills. Please see the description of the Bird Photography Workshop on Sunday in “Presentations and Workshops” for more information.

You must register for the field trip to participate in the classroom portion of the workshop. Limit to 15 participants.

Sunday at 7:15 AM (#33)

Duration: 3 hours

Travel by Car (15 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10

Birding Hot Spots

Join fellow experienced birders as you visit 4 local hot spots in search of the area’s many resident and wintering birds. The differing habitats provide a great variety of birds, from shore birds to wintering warblers.

Visit old growth riparian habitat, farm fields, and local ponds in an attempt to beat the single tour Festival record of 67 birds.

Binoculars, food, and water are highly recommended. There will be short walks at every stop.

Saturday at 7:10 AM (#6)

Sunday at 7:00 AM (#31)

Duration: 5 hours

Travel by Bus

Adult: $15 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Birding Staten Island

Staten Island is a haven for waterfowl, including both the greater and lesser Sandhill cranes. Roving the fields for cranes provides opportunity to compare the 2 subspecies and to learn how model agricultural practices provide wildlife habitat in conjunction with growing food and fiber for our country.

Tour guides from the Cosumnes River Preserve will share the natural history of the birds and the land. Most of the crane tours focus on the DFG Sandhill Crane Preserve, but Staten Island is just as impressive!

Saturday at 9:00 AM (#12)

Sunday at 12:30 PM (#45)

Duration: 3 hours

Travel by Bus (35 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Cosumnes River Preserve

Jointly managed by 9 private and government agencies, Cosumnes River Preserve is the finest valley oak riparian forest and wetland in California. Explore this key link on the Pacific Flyway and learn why its management is considered a model in conservation partnerships.

Learn more about the Preserve at Experienced tour guides will lead you among the beauty of the Preserve spotting shorebirds, waders, raptors and cranes.

Saturday at 8:20 AM (#9)

Saturday at 2:30 PM (#22)

Sunday at 8:15 AM (#35)

Sunday at 2:40 PM (#48)

Duration: 3 hours

Travel by Bus (25 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Crane Fly-In

This tour takes center stage as the Festival highlight! Sandhill cranes spend their days eating and lounging in the surrounding fields. At dusk, they converge in large groups that can number from several hundreds to several thousands.

Often back dropped by stunning sunsets behind Mt. Diablo, cranes fly in, vocalize, and often put on a show!

Experienced volunteer docents from the Department of Fish and Game share the natural history of the cranes, taking advantage of the Department’s Sandhill Crane Preserve, which is managed to ensure that cranes have suitable habitat when arriving for the winter.

Book this tour first, as they always fill first! [The birds determine end times for evening tours.]

Friday at 3:00 PM (#2)

Friday at 3:10 PM (#3)

Friday at 3:20 PM (#4)

Saturday at 3:00 PM (#25)

Saturday at 3:10 PM (#26)

Saturday at 3:20 PM (#27)

Sunday at 3:00 PM (#51)

Sunday at 3:20 PM (#53)

Duration: 3 hours

Travel by Bus (15 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Crane Fly-In (Staten Island)

More fly-in opportunities! Combine Crane Fly-In with Birding Staten Island to learn what the birds already know – this is one of the best places in the Delta to spend the winter.

Last year the fly-in here numbered into the thousands, with both greater and lesser Sandhill cranes.

Friday at 2:40 PM (#1)

Saturday at 2:40 PM (#23)

Sunday at 2:45 PM (#49)

Sunday at 2:55 PM (#52)

Duration: 3 hours

Travel by Bus (35 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Crane Fly-Out

Folks often ask what cranes do in the morning. Let’s get out there and find out!

Accompanied by a Department of Fish and Game crane docent, you will locate the crane roosting field, hear their vocalizations, and witness the early morning sunlight awaken the dew-drawn flight feathers of this majestic bird.

What a way to start your day.

Sunday at 6:00 AM (#30)

Duration: 2 hours and 15 min

Travel by Car (20 min)

Adult: $10 - Youth: $5 - Child: $3

Crane Photography

Many who view Sandhill cranes hope to capture them dancing in the fields or flying across a colorful sunset. Here is a new tour that combines the majesty of the cranes with expert photography techniques.

Festival photographers Bill and Bridgette Clough return to share their love of wildlife photography. Visit the Cloughs at

Saturday at 1:40 PM (#21)

Sunday at 10:00 AM (#40)

Duration: 2 hours and 20 min

Travel by Bus (20 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Crane Roving

During the day cranes may be vocalizing, feeding, dancing, flying, or resting. Often cranes ‘bounce’ from one feeding field to another, offering good opportunity to observe behaviors not seen in the evening fly-in.

 Bright sunshine makes it easier to view the cranes’ mud-stained wings and bright red forehead, as well as comparing adults with juveniles, and greater with lesser Sandhill cranes.

Department of Fish and Game docents will take you to them! Learn about the natural history of the cranes and the land that they call their winter home.

Photo by Gary Gervin.

Saturday at 9:30 AM (#13)

Saturday at 12:40 PM (#19)

Sunday at 9:30 AM (#38)

Sunday at 1:00 PM (#46)

Duration: 2 hours

Travel by Bus (15 min)

Adult: $15 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Delta Birding Cruise

Take advantage of the Delta waterways as you cruise along through the Sandhill crane habitat. Skies fill with cranes, swans, geese, and ducks, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the banks for other birds and mammals.

This tour ranks up there with the crane fly-in tours as the hardest ticket at the festival to get your hand on!

Suitable for all ages, children are required to have parent supervision. Docking from Tower Park Marina provides the opportunity to enjoy the restaurant and other amenities.

For more information about the marina visit

Saturday at 7:00 AM (#5)

Saturday at 9:40 AM (#14)

Saturday at 12:20 PM (#18)

Saturday at 2:50 PM (#24)

Sunday at 7:10 AM (#32)

Sunday at 9:50 AM (#39)

Sunday at 12:20 PM (#44)

Sunday at 2:50 PM (#50)

Duration: 3 hours and 10 min

Travel by Car (20 min)

Adult: $25 - Youth: $15 - Child: $10

Delta Meadows Canoeing

Enjoy the mid-morning hours of the Delta with a view that few have seen. Nestled amidst the Sacramento and Mokelumne rivers, this naturalist-led canoe trip takes you through 2 miles of riparian retreat. Learn about the plants and animals of the Delta.

This tour is offered only once per day and is limited to 11 lucky participants. All canoe equipment is provided; sponsored by California State Parks.

Saturday at 8:30 AM (#10)

Sunday at 8:50 AM (#37)

Duration: 3 hours and 20 min

Travel by Car (35 min)
Adult: $20 - Youth: $10 - Child: $5

Eco-Friendly Winery for the Birds!

Turner Road Vintners continues to be a destination highlight among Festival goers. Its innovative eco-friendly water reclamation ponds have created a natural habitat for a variety of birds.

Get a free taste of their wine as you get a taste of the birding benefits found here. Come and enjoy! (Must be 21+)

Saturday at 1:00 PM (#20)

Sunday at 1:10 PM (#47)

Duration: 1 hour and 45 min

Travel by Car (10 min)

Adult: $10

Kayak the Mokelumne

Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River will be at water’s capacity this year, providing the rare opportunity for Crane Festival participants to enjoy a twilight kayaking trip on Saturday or an early morning trip on Sunday. A great way to start or end your day!

Be on the lookout for beavers, river otters, and lots of birds. Equipment is provided, so grab a water bottle and let’s go!

Saturday at 3:30 PM (#28)

Sunday at 7:30 AM (#34)

Duration: 2 hours  and 15 min

Travel by Car (5 min)

Adult: $20 - Youth: $10

Mokelumne River Rendezvous

Join a light hike along the upper Mokelumne River as it spills from Camanche Dam.  Local birders will help you scout 35+ species including bluebirds, night herons, several woodpecker species, mergansers, osprey, and other raptors. 

Keep an eye out for salmon jumping up river!  Birders Kathy Schick and Liz West return as tour leaders, ready to share their knowledge of the land and birds specific to this area.  Kathy has participated in the local Christmas count for many years and Liz leads a monthly birding census here.

Saturday at 7:40 AM (#8)

Duration: 3 hours and 30 min

Travel by Car (30 min)

Adult: $10 - Youth: $5 - Child: $3

Patio Boat Leisure

Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River will be at water’s capacity this year, providing the rare opportunity for Crane Festival participants to enjoy taking a leisurely patio boat ride.

Join a local naturalist as you glide along at sunset, viewing the lake’s resident birds and tranquil scenery.

This tour is available on Saturday and Sunday evening, but the capacity is only 8!

Saturday at 4:00 PM (#29)

Sunday at 4:00 PM (#54)

Duration: 1 hours and 30 min

Travel by Car (5 min)

Adult: $15 - Youth: $15

Picnic By the River

Tom and Carmela Hoffman are proud to host this new tour to their Heritage Oak Winery.  Stroll picturesque vineyards and an old-growth riparian forest to their private beach along the Mokelumne River.  There you will enjoy a wine and cheese tasting sponsored by Heritage Oak Winery and lunch from Panera Bread. 

Local birder Nan Ballot will join the fun and provide answers to your birding questions.  If we are lucky, the hummingbird feeders will be buzzing with various species.  Lunch, wine, nature…. what else is there? 

Round trip walking is approximately 2.5 miles, so bring your walking shoes.  For more about the winery, visit  (Must be 21+)

Saturday at 10:00 AM (#15)

Sunday at 10:15 AM (#41)

 Duration: 3 hours and 15 min

 Travel by Car (15 min)

Adult: $20

Tule Wilderness Trip

Tule Wilderness TripEnjoy the Tule Wilderness Trip with Delta Ecotours.  This trip is an opportunity to see a little known California landscape of meandering sloughs, riparian forests, emergent islands, sunken farmlands, open water "lakes", expanses of tules, and flocks of waterfowl. 

This eco-tour experience, narrated by Dr. Jeff Hart, will include information on the natural and human history of this important part of California. 

For more information, check out Delta Ecotour's website at  This trip leaves from Hartland Nursery, near Walnut Grove, in the north Delta area.  Jeff has joined the Crane Festival for the first time, but you may recognize him from Huell Howser’s California Gold!

Sunday at 12:15 PM (#43)

 Duration: 5 hours and 30 min

 Travel by Car (45 min)

Adult: $30 - Youth: $20 - Child: $10

You Are Now a Birder!

Get acquainted with one of the area’s best-kept secrets.  Top birders frequent this “hot spot” location for the variety of species. 

The old-growth riparian habitat provides great opportunity for migrating songbirds, accipiters, wood ducks, and much more.  David Yee, one of California’s most respected birders, returns to lead this small group for a wonderful learning experience. 

This year the tour is designed for returning Festival goers who are eager to join David again and move to the next level.  Be careful, you are advancing to official Birder status!

Saturday at 8:40 AM (#11)

 Duration: 2 hours

Travel by Car (5 min)

Adult: $10 - Youth: $5 - Child: $3

Additional Information

Tour spaces are limited.  Reservations by October 30th are strongly encouraged. 

Adults are over 17, youth 12-17, and children under 12 years.   Tours are held rain or shine. 

No cancellations after October 26, 2009. Cancellations before October 26th will be charged a $10 processing fee.