About 8,000 of the species normally winter on the Japanese island of Kyushu, which is home to approximately 80 percent of the world’s wintering population.
Experts believe the crane managed to get to the Hiwassee Refuge, northeast of Chattanooga, on its own rather than escaping from captivity in North America.
The bird’s unprecedented appearance at the refuge has drawn hundreds of birdwatchers who are also busy observing 5,400 of the more typical sandhill and whooping cranes that are wintering there.
The Tennessee Ornithological Society says this is the first time that three species of cranes have been seen together east of the Mississippi River.
Photos: Terry Larm - Flickr