See the stunning—and rare—creatures up close and personal.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
January 21, 2020
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Credit: Mike Sloat

Bird lovers, gather 'round: The 24th Annual Whooping Crane Festival will take place on February 20th through 23rd in Port Aransas, Texas, and if you love nature, the exciting lineup of events may very well be worth planning a trip around.

“This festival is a one of a kind event, focused on the Whooping Crane-the rarest of cranes and one of the most endangered birds in the world. The festival is open to birders, photographers, families, and anyone who loves the outdoors and nature-related activities,” Joan Garland, festival coordinator and public relations and destination product development manager for Port Aransas and Mustang Island Tourism Bureau, tells Southern Living. “The Whooping Crane Festival celebrates the annual return of the cranes to their wintering habitat at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The Texas Coastal Bend is the only place where you can see the world’s last naturally-occurring population of Whooping Cranes," Garland explains. These beautiful cranes make their way down to the Texas coast from Northern Canada for the winter and visitors can expect upwards of 300 birds. Currently, the animals are among one of the world's most endangered bird species.

This year's festival will spotlight Dr. George Archibald, Co-Founder of the International Crane Foundation, as one of the keynote speakers, along with representatives from Wood Buffalo National Park, International Crane Foundation, and other also speaking during the festival. According to a festival press release, attendees can enjoy guided boat tours to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to witness the Whooping Cranes on their wintering grounds, sunset wine and dolphin cruises, workshops and seminars, a painting and wine tasting class, and more. You can reserve tickets for various Whooping Crane Festival events here.

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So who's ready to join us on this one-of-a-kind avian excursion? We're raring to pack our finest bird-watching attire and plan our road trip out west to the Lone Star State to catch this incredible fest.