From September 9th–11th, the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, MS, will host the 12th annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration & Nature Festival. The award winning festival treats thousands of guests to renowned speakers, live animals, wagon rides and a close look at one of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, one of the smallest birds on Earth.
North 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 pounds for the Gulf crossing, which takes about 22 hours.
These birds, traveling up to 2500 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 & 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 unparallel 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 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, 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, says “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, Good Ol’, Down Home, Mississippi Snakes, the Live Bat Encounter with Rob Mies, guided nature walks, wagon rides, the kids’ tent, The MS 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.
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.
For more information on the Hummingbird Migration Celebration & Nature Festival events, please visit http://strawberryplains.audubon.org or call 662-252-1155.
Strawberry Plains Audubon Center works with landowners to develop habitat management plans that will help future generations enjoy the economic and social benefits that clean water and a natural environment provide. Strawberry Plains is committed to providing education to students of all ages. In a watershed facing rapid development, future generations will inherit sufficient clean water, native wildlife populations and a legacy of stewardship. http://strawberryplains.audubon.org
HUMMINGBIRD FACT SHEET
- Hummingbirds are the smallest of all birds, measuring between 2-8 inches.
- A newborn hummingbird is about the size of a honeybee, their egg, the size of a pea.
- There are about 340 species of hummingbirds in the world, all in the western hemisphere.
- Only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird breeds east of the Mississippi River.
- This tiny flyer manages to fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico – 500+ miles.
- The Ruby-throat beats its wings 40-80 times a second, and maintains an average flight speed of 30 mph. Escape speeds can reach 50 mph.
- While nearly all Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fly south of Mississippi for the winter, 10 other species can been seen in the region during winter. Leave at least one feeder out.
- Hummingbirds are the only species of birds that can truly fly backwards.
- Igor Sikorsky considered the exceptional hovering ability of hummingbirds when developing his pioneering designs for helicopters.
- Hovering is the most expensive form of flight because of the energy consumed. A hummingbird has the highest measured rate of aerobic metabolism of any living thing.
- Birds of all sizes have a better respiratory system than people, because oxygen runs through their entire system of auxiliary air sacs and can enter and exit even by their toes.
- Hummingbird body temperature ranges from 105°- 108°F
- A hummingbird lives a relatively short life of great intensity (9 years,) while large creatures that move slowly (elephants, whales) live longer (60 years for wild elephant.)
- Eighty percent (80%) of all birds, including hummers, will not live to see their first birthday.
See video of hummingbirds:
How you can help hummingbirds: http://strawberryplains.audubon.org/birds-science-education/audubon-at-home/audubon-at-home
Hummingbird article in Audubon Magazine: http://audubonmagazine.org/features0410/heartbeat.html