Thursday, September 11, 2008
New record set for hummingbirds, people
Following on the coattails of Hurricane Gustav, clearing skies and cooling temperatures added up to a superb weekend at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. Record numbers of ruby-throated hummingbirds and the largest crowd ever at the center gathered for the ninth annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration.
Hummingbird bander Bob Sargent and banding crew tagged a record 281 birds over three days and recaptured one adult female that had been banded on September 9, 2006.
“This is without a doubt the best of all the festivals so far,” said Sargent. “If we had just been banding for numbers, we would have easily banded a thousand or more hummingbirds.”
Because of the large population of migrating hummingbirds on the grounds, the Sargents are able to capture the tiny birds while interpreting their work to the large audiences attending the event. Banding is one of the most popular features of the festival because people are able to view the birds up-close and it also promotes the center’s mission of helping visitors understand the beauty and connection of these birds to their own backyards.
Sargent also said, “The tremendous numbers of hummingbirds are due to the great job and impeccable habitat maintained at Strawberry Plains. The grounds and plants were at their best with more floral nectar at one site than I have ever seen. The natural wild habitat at Strawberry Plains is an oasis for ruby-throated hummingbirds. The food supply is great!”
The crowd count was just as impressive, according to Madge Lindsay, Audubon Mississippi director, and Bubba Hubbard, center director, with over 8,500 people attending the festival during events spanning the weekend. Adults and children alike enjoyed demonstrations with live bats, alligators, reptiles and small mammals; programs about Mississippi wildlife; wagon rides on the preserve; hummingbird watching from the historic Davis House; a nature trade show; a children’s activity tent; and the history of the center with a new book released – Four Centuries of a Mississippi Landscape: Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.
Lindsay and Hubbard said the birds should be abundant for another month and visitors are invited to come and see the birds on the grounds. Tour groups are asked to call ahead at 662-252-1155. Go to www.msaudubon.org for additional information.
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