Thursday, September 8, 2011
Hummingbird festival this weekend
This weekend – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs will host the Hummingbird Migration Celebration and Nature Festival.
The award-winning festival treats thousands of guests to renowned speakers, live animals, wagon rides and a close look at the ruby-throated hummingbird, one of the smallest birds on Earth.
Mississippi is a perfect place for these tiny birds to stop and refuel before the grueling non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. The native plants, insects and feeders at Strawberry Plains Audubon help hummingbirds pack on the extra weight for the Gulf crossing, which takes about 22 hours.
These birds, traveling up to 2,500 miles each fall, delight us in our backyards but, more importantly, have become ambassadors for the needs of a host of other wildlife species.
“Once a person decides to protect and conserve hummingbirds, they wind up protecting and conserving many other species on which hummingbirds depend, from insects to native plants,” said Katie Boyle, outreach and education director at Strawberry Plains. “This festival is a celebration of all things wild, a wonderful way to spend a day in a truly historic place.”
Experts will be on hand at the festival to talk to guests about how creating habitat and providing food, with native plants, insects and sugar water, can help these tiny titans, and a host of other animals, return another year.
Visitors can see hummingbirds from inside the antebellum Davis House, as they flit through the gardens of Strawberry Plains. But nothing beats seeing these birds up close. Bob Sargent and his team from the Hummer/Bird Study Group amaze attendees with an unparalleled view as they put tiny leg bands on the birds in order to better track their travels.
If you think hummingbirds are small, you should see the delicate bands that goes around their legs! The tiny numbered leg bands enable scientists to determine how far south the birds go for winter, where they stop during their travels, and that they return to the same sites year after year.
With an extensive trail system, over 200 species of birds and this exciting festival line-up, visitors can enjoy this natural and historic place in many ways.
Bubba Hubbard, director of Strawberry Plains Audubon, said, “Don’t miss this amazing gathering of naturalists, experts and thousands of guests as they celebrate and learn how nature benefits all our lives. There’s something for all ages and most importantly, you’ll feel the spirit of nature restored on this old historic cotton plantation.”
Speakers include Terry Vandeventer’s live snake program, live bat encounter with Rob Mies, wild sounds with Greg Budney of Cornell University and incredible feathers and wildlife tracking with Casey McFarland. That’s not all – there will be guided nature walks, wagon rides, the kids’ tent, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and a host of local artisans will be selling nature-inspired crafts.
Native plant and wildlife experts will be answering questions about what kind of plants appeal to birds, how to place your feeders for maximum benefits, and why indigenous plants are easier to maintain. A large variety of rare native plants will be for sale at the festival.
Gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts alike will not want to miss Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home: How to Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants.”
Hours for the festival are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for children under 12; admission for 12-passenger vans and buses is $10 per person. All parking is free.
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