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Hummingbird Migration Celebration and Nature Festival


A Bird In the Hand…
By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

…is the highlight of some visitors’ experiences at the Hummingbird Migration Celebration and Nature Festival, held September 6-8, 2013 at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, Holly Springs, MS. “We had approximately 7,000 visitors this year.  The hummingbird experts banded 367 hummingbirds.  Two of the birds captured were previously banded,” said Donna Murphy, Operations Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator at the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. 

Two Hummingbird banding stations at this year’s Festival offered more opportunities for visitors to see how the birds are banded, weighed, and studied, and to get the rare opportunity to hold one in the palm of the hand to release them back into the wild. Both were run by the Hummer/Bird Study Group, a non-profit organization founded by Bob and Martha Sargent of Clay, AL. Their research programs have been studying hummingbirds and migrating songbirds since 1987.

Through winter banding activities in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the District of Columbia, the Hummer/Bird Study Grouphas documented fourteen species: Ruby-throated, Rufous, Black-chinned, Allen's, Anna's, Calliope, Buff-bellied, Broad-tailed, Costa's, White-eared, Green Violet-ear, Magnificent, Green-breasted Mango and Broad-billed. Read more about the Hummer/Bird Study Group at:

In addition to the close-up view of the hummers, there were a variety of experiences available to visitors:

· Guided Nature Walks through Strawberry Plains Audubon Center's 2600-Acre Nature Sanctuary
· Kids' Nature Tent
· Live Animal Shows
· Special Guest Speakers
· Resources for Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Backyard
· Native Plant Sale
· Experts on Conservation, Ecology and Bird Migration
· Local Artists and Crafts Vendors
Featured speakers at this year’s festival were:

Margy Terpstra, an avid birder and nature photographer, gardener and horticulturest. She and her husband Dan created a wildlife sanctuary called Shady Oaks on their half-acre property in Kirdwood, MO. This small sanctuary has attracted 147 species of birds, the majority of which are attracted to the water feature called The Bubbler. Her programs explain how to create gardens that attract birds and “The Magic of Moving Water in a Garden.” “Fresh, moving water is a powerful attractant to birds,” she advises. Several videos of her water features and the birds they attract are available on YouTube:  Read about her water feature, The Bubbler, at

David Unger, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Biology with Maryville College in Maryville, TN. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky studying a recovering Black Bear population in southeastern Kentucky.  His current research involves the ecology of American Marten in central Michigan and Flying Squirrel populations on the Maryville College campus and surrounding areas. His presentations were on Predators, particularly Wolves, and The Ecology of the Black Bear.

Douglas Tallamy, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. His research focuses on the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. He is author of the book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens.

Rob Mies, a conservation biologist, bat expert, author, and Director of the Organization for Bat Conservation, captivated audiences with Live Bat Encounters, explaining all about the variety of bats, their habits, food, and other aspects of the night-time critters, debunking many myths that folks hold about them.

Terry Vandeventer, owner of The Living Reptile Museum Educational Productions, introduces visitors to a variety of snakes in his program “Good Ole Down Home Mississippi Snakes.”

Bob Tarter, a wildlife biologist, educates children about the natural world, as well as adults who may not have had the opportunity for a close encounter with the variety of wildlife in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, with Education Director Kate Friedman, provides close encounters with “Wildlife and the People Who Find Them: Funny Stories of Rescue and Release.”

About Hummingbirds: Hummingbirds are the smallest of all birds, ranging in length from 2” to 8.” Males of most species are identified by their iridescent feathers. Females and immatures of both sexes are normally plain and nondescript, both resembling the adult females.

Hummingbirds are strictly a bird of the Western Hemisphere. They are found as far north as Southeastern Alaska and the Maritimes of Canada and as far south as Southern Chile. The majority of the approximately 320 species are found in the tropics. Only 15 species have been known to breed in North America, with another six classified as vagrants.
Find more information about Strawberry Plains Audubon Center at:

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