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Master Naturalists: It's hummingbird time along Mid-Coast

By Victoria Advocate
Aug. 4, 2011 at 3:04 a.m.

No, it's not dead or injured.  This juvenile female hummingbird has just been captured, weighed, had its length measured and had its bill checked for tiny ridges. (She had ridges. That's how we know she is less than a year old.)  To see how ready she was to migrate South, banders blew on her stomach feathers with a straw to check for the layer of fat, which will be her energy source for the flight.  After that, she was placed in a person's hand to rest for a moment or so before she zoomed off, no worse for the wear.  You can see hummingbird banders at work at the banding demonstration location during the HummerBird Celebration in Rockport in September. If you are lucky, you or your child may even have a chance to hold a resting bird just like this.

By Paul and Mary Meredith

Hummers have visited our feeders all season. The sugar water continues to disappear on a regular basis.

But we've seen few of them, and have been able to identify even fewer. That's because we have a dense sandpaper tree (anacua, Ehretia anacua) near our feeders, as well as turk's cap plantings next to it. It's been a popular place for birds to perch - especially small birds, like hummers - to hide.

It's very difficult to spot any small creature that sits still 10-15 feet up among its foliage, which produces dense shade. They're nearly impossible to see until they move, and are rarely identifiable if we do see them.

We heard some hummer reports from the coastal areas last week. Folks preparing for Rockport's 23rd annual HummerBird Celebration shared their sightings. There they've had black-chinned hummers, two Anna's, buff-bellies and a few ruby-throats. The black-chinneds and buff-bellies migrate before the ruby-throats, and leave before many ruby-throats arrive.

Ruby-throats are also being seen around Victoria.

CELEBRATION

This year's HummerBird Celebration is Sept. 15-18. Plus, several pre-event activities are scheduled for Sept. 14. Pre-event activities include a kayak birding trip in Little Bay.

A bus trip includes birding at Fennessey Ranch, and a tour of the Rockport Bay Education Center, featuring a global view of the migratory pattern of the Central Flyway zone.

Celebration speakers and programs cover hummingbirds, birds, butterflies, dragonflies and developing a yard to attract them, plus some other topics.

KEYNOTE EVENTS

On Thursday, Brent Ortego will discuss "Hummingbirds in the Beginning, Today and in the Future."

Friday, the keynote is raptors from Last Chance Forever flying overhead.

On Saturday, James Currie, of Birding Adventures TV, will share highlights from "The Big Year" movie being released this fall. The movie features Steve Martin and Jack Black.

SOME OTHER PRESENTATIONS

Bird photography classes feature expert wildlife photographers John Martell and Pam Fulcher.

Tom Kuenzli will also talk about choosing your binoculars and birding scopes.

Ro Wauer will talk about butterflies. Each talk about butterflies will be followed by a visit to a butterfly garden. Mark Klym, co-author of "Hummingbirds of Texas" and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's hummer coordinator, will speak on "Western Bullies: Where and When Have They Been Seen in Texas."

Other speakers will cover birding like the experts, landscape designs - for birds - and for hummers in particular, amazing hummers, hummingbird folklore, identifying the little brown birds of winter (sparrows) and black-chinned hummingbirds.

BIRDING TRIPS

Some birding opportunities, led by expert birders, will be by bus, others by boat, and some are self-guided to hummer homes. There will be a hummingbird banding demonstration site. There, you may even experience the thrill of releasing a hummer following its banding.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

Outdoor exhibits and hummingbird malls will also be available.

For up-to-date information, visit the HummerBird Celebration website at

rockporthummingbird.com.

Paul and Mary Meredith are master naturalists. Contact them at paulmary0211@sbcglobal.net.

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