To the villagers, the annual arrival of black-neck cranes is an event that holds great significance. As well as heralding the beginning of winter, some believe these endangered birds to be the reincarnation of two deities who are said to be protectors of this beautiful valley.
When both arriving and leaving, these graceful birds will circle the Gangtey Goempa three times. To the locals, this represents the honoring of the three sacred jewels of Buddhism and the request and gratitude for their protection and care during their stay.
The Black-necked Crane Festival is held every year in Phobjikha on November 11th, coinciding with the birth anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the King. Organized by Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), the festival started in 1998 and aims at spreading awareness on the cranes and the traditions as well as cultura of local people.
In November 2010, Druk Asia assisted Julia Horton, a journalist on her coverage of Black-Necked Crane Festival. Her articles can be found on the following publications:
Tashi delek, March 2011
CNNGO, March 2011
Asian Geographic, April 2011 Edition
Geographical UK, September 2011