It's not too early to start planning to attend this amazing event!
Holly Springs, MS -- Next fall, as the weather cools and the days get a bit shorter, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will join many other birds in a journey south to their winter havens in Mexico and Central America. Moving like a river, they will travel down along Highway 61, south from Memphis. Some of these birds will stop to refuel at the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, near Holly Springs, Mississippi. Last year, over 8,000 guests at the Hummingbird Migration Celebration got to see some of theses Ruby-throats before they continued their daunting journey, which includes a 500-mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico. Many people got to feel the heartbeat of a bird, and learn how to attract them to their own backyard. In nature, there are few constants and the numbers of Hummingbirds at the festival varies from year to year. Even when the numbers are at a low, the festival offers every visitor a chance to see some of these tiny titans up close and to learn about some of the many mysteries that make these birds and all wildlife fascinating and important.
Renowned expert Bob Sargent and his team, the Hummer/Bird Study Group, are often available to band Hummingbirds at the event. Bird banding helps unravel the mysteries of migration. If you think hummingbirds are small, you should see the delicate band that goes around their leg. The tiny numbered leg bands enable scientists to determine how far south the birds go for winter, where they stop during their travels, how long they live, and whether they come back to the same sites year after year. (Many do.) At the 2008 festival, a bird was recaptured that had been tagged in 2006.
Hummers are vital to our ecosystem because, like bees, they are pollinators. As bees across North America suffer from Colony Collapse, bird habitat in North, Central, and South America is being lost to development and fragmentation. Climate change can produce increasingly severe weather, including droughts and stronger hurricanes because of rising sea temperatures. All of these changes impact hummingbirds and general bird populations. Every year, at the Celebration, naturalists are on hand to teach about the importance of native plants, insects and and creating a living backyard habitat. In addition to nectar from native plants, hummingbirds also need the insects that these native plants host -- In fact, most birds need insects to survive. The insects provide necessary protein to young and migrating birds. Native habitats around our homes and work will be critical in the effort to conserve the wildlife we have left.
While the hummingbirds visit the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center throughout the summer and fall, the weekend Migration Celebration, from Sept. 9-11, 2011, is a festival filled with other activities. Visitors can attend talks by guest lecturers who are leaders in the fields of conservation, ecology and sustainability. Or guests can witness live animal shows with bats, birds or snakes! Children can enjoy a special tent designed for them. In addition we host local artists and vendors selling crafts, art, hummingbird feeders, gifts, and bird-friendly plants for your own backyard. The Center showcases 2,600 acres of magnificent forests, grasslands and native plant gardens, plus the majestic Davis House, where you can sit in an enclosed porch to watch the hummingbirds in the garden. Strawberry Plains Audubon Center at 285 Plains Road, in Holly Springs, MS, was described as an “outdoor lover's paradise” by The Tupelo Daily Journal. “Hummingbirds may be small in size, but they are mighty in their impact as ambassadors for nature and conservation,” said Madge Lindsay, retired executive director of Audubon Mississippi. “When you see one of these fragile looking birds up close, you can’t help but be inspired by the amazing diversity of life on our planet. It is breathtaking to think that a creature weighing a tenth of an ounce can survive such a perilous, long journey.”
Participants come from around the mid-south to help support the Center’s education and conservation programs, including an initiative to conserve the Coldwater River Watershed. Last year’s Hummingbird festival featured a number of wonderful speakers, including Douglas W. Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Popular returning programs will include the live bat encounter with Rob Mies, guided nature walks, and wagon rides. Expert staff and volunteers will be answering questions about what kind of plants appeal to birds, how to place your feeders for maximum benefits, and why native plants are better for wildlife and easier to maintain. Stay tuned to the website, as we will be confirming the special guest speakers for 2011 in the next few months.
At the bottom of this page you will find articles attached that explain some simple things you can do to attract hummingbirds to your yard.
Outreach & Education Manager
Strawberry Plains Audubon Center
285 Plains Road
Holly Springs, MS 38635