The celebration, one of the largest Audubon-sponsored nature festivals in the country, coincides with the peak of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird's southward migration. Nature enthusiasts of all ages are invited to the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center at 285 Plains Road, in Holly Springs, Mississippi to observe bird-banding demonstrations, learn more about the unique Mississippi ecosystem, and enjoy seeing hundreds of hummingbirds.
"We all look forward to the Hummingbird Celebration as much as our visitors do," said Madge Lindsay, executive director of Audubon Mississippi. "When you see one of these tiny birds, and gently hold it in your hand before it is released, you can't help but be inspired by the amazing diversity of life on our planet. Hummingbirds may be small in size, but they are mighty in their impact as ambassadors for nature and conservation."
The festival will once again enthrall observers with informative bird-banding sessions led by renowned hummingbird experts Bob and Martha Sargent of the Alabama-based Hummer/Bird Study Group. The Sargents and their banding crew will provide an up-close view of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in all of their colorful glory, and some visitors will even have a chance to release the newly-banded birds back into the wild. Banding is an important tool for studying birds; small numbered leg bands enable scientists to monitor the birds, noting locations where they are observed and using this information to track migration and other life cycle information. As each bird visits one of the Sargent's enclosed feeders, it will be caught, banded, and released. At the 2006 festival the Sargents and their crew banded over 250 individual hummingbirds, a record for Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.
This year's festival includes a number of new programs, including Adventures with John James Audubon, presented by Storyteller Brian "Fox" Ellis, and the Living Reptile Museum, featuring Mississippi native snakes with Terry Vandeventer. Popular returning presenters include Georgean and Paul Kyle, founders of the North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project, who will share the fascinating and often secret life of these aerial acrobats, as well as what is being done to conserve their declining numbers. Rob Mies, President of the Organization for Bat Conservation, will introduce festival-goers to the environmental importance and conservation challenges for these often misunderstood mammals. Other festival highlights include guided nature walks and wagon rides on the preserve, hummingbird viewing from the historic Davis house garden room, and special children's activities. A nature-inspired "marketplace" featuring regional vendors is sure to appeal to early Christmas shoppers and anyone looking for special gifts for nature lovers. Native plants attractive to hummingbirds will also be on sale.
For more information on the Eighth Annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration events, please visit www.msaudubon.org or call the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, at 662-252-1155. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children under 12; admission for 12-passenger vans and buses is $7 per person. All parking is free.
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