Thursday, August 31, 2006
Hummingbird event Sept. 8-10 at Strawberry Plains
Adults and children alike from across the South once again have the opportunity to be enchanted by their beloved hummingbirds at the seventh annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration, taking place September 8-10 at the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, 285 Plains Road, in Holly Springs.
The event, one of the largest Audubon-sponsored nature festivals in the country, coincides with the peak of the ruby-throated hummingbird’s southward migration.
The staff at Strawberry Plains maintains extensive hummingbird gardens and numerous feeding stations to attract large numbers of ruby-throated hummingbirds as they migrate from eastern North America to Mexico and Central America. During the festival, and with the gardens in bloom, literally hundreds of hummingbirds can be seen feeding at the stations to fuel up for their migratory flight. While the ruby-throated hummingbird may be lightweight, weighing about as much as a U.S. penny (approximately .1 ounce), during migration these tiny wonders manage to fly non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico - a distance of some 500 miles.
The Hummingbird Migration Celebration has proven to be an immensely popular event that has continued to gain momentum and delight all who attend. Last year, more than 4,000 visitors were a part of the festivities.
A huge draw for festivalgoers is the bird-banding sessions with renowned hummingbird experts Bob and Martha Sargent of the Alabama-based Hummer/Bird Study Group. Back again for the 2006 event, the Sargents and their banding crew will give visitors the opportunity to see the ruby-throated hummingbirds up-close in all of their colorful glory - while some will even have a chance to release the newly-banded birds back into the wild. As each bird visits one of the Sargent’s specially designed feeders, they will temporarily be caught and harmlessly marked with a small numbered leg band that allows them to be identified should they return during next year’s festival. At the 2005 festival the Sargent’s and their crew banded 220 individual hummingbirds, a record number banded at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.
“The wonder of this festival is that it gives people the chance to see a hummingbird up-close, which because of the bird’s size and speed is not easy to do,” said Madge Lindsay, executive director of Audubon Mississippi. “Festivalgoers are also excited about the prospect of releasing a bird back into the wild after it has been banded.”
In addition to the bird-banding sessions, event highlights will include: demonstrations with live bats, alligators and small mammals; programs about the care and release of Mississippi wildlife; guided nature walks; wagon rides on the preserve; tours of the historic Strawberry Plains plantation home; a nature products trade show; a children’s activity tent, which will host the Hummingbird Art Festival for children ages 6-15; and presentations focusing on reptiles and endangered species found in Mississippi.
This year, the special programs tent at the festival will feature: Bobby Harrison, an award winning nature photographer, writer and educator, who will discuss his ivory-billed woodpecker siting; Georgean and Paul Kyle, founders the North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project, who have been involved in bird banding, public education and avian conservation since 1984, and whose talk will focus on the secretive home life of these aerial acrobats, their fight to cling to survival and what is being done to conserve their declining numbers; and the Organization for Bat Conservation’s president, Rob Mies, who will focus his program on local bat populations and conservation challenges for these important mammals..
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-associated Recreation has cited birdwatching as one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities, with an estimated 46 million people engaged in the activity. Audubon Mississippi is proud to play a role in encouraging an interest in birding and nature through the Hummingbird Migration Celebration and other programs at its Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. For more information on the seventh annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration, festival tickets and celebration events, please visit http://www.msaudubon.org or call the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, at 662-252-1155. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children (plus $2 per vehicle parking). Admission for commercial vans is $50, and there is a charge of $150 for tour buses.
Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Their national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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