Monday, May 26, 2014

Fourth Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival -- August 23rd!

The male Ruby-throated hummingbird leaves a dazzling impression with his bright red throat and fierce temperament, but many are surprised to learn that the female hummingbird does all the work of raising young!
Hummingbirds do not establish pairs bonds, as many other birds do, but only come together briefly for breeding.   The female builds a nest of plant fibers and decorates it with lichen.  She binds the nest materials together with sticky spider silk and secures it to a branch by wrapping the silk around the entire limb over and over again, sometimes while she is hanging upside down.  Then without any assistance from a mate, she incubates her eggs, feeds her nestlings (usually two) and often begins her second brood while still feeding fledglings from the first brood!
T. David Pitts, Professor of Biology at UT Martin, has conducted extensive research on the little-known habits of nesting female Ruby-throats and learned some fascinating new information.  You will have an opportunity to hear Dr. Pitts speak on his research on Saturday, August 23th, at the fourth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival, in Knoxville, TN.  Visitors to the festival will also see hummingbirds up-close as Master Bander, Mark Armstrong, demonstrates how hummingbirds are captured, weighed and measured, and banded before being released to continue their migration journey.
Banding has enormous scientific value, providing a way to document the specialized timing and direction of hummingbird movement during migration. August and September are busy migration months in east Tennessee when thousands of hummingbirds from northern breeding territories are moving south through our state on their way to wintering grounds in Central America and southern Mexico.
The festival will treat visitors to renowned speakers on nature topics, live animal demonstrations, guided nature walks and vendors selling food and drinks, locally made arts and crafts, bird feeders and supplies, garden items, and a “Bargain Barn” selling gently used books and other merchandise with nature-related themes.
New for 2014, a special children’s area will offer educational activities for kids and child-focused nature walks!  Environmental Man, portrayed by Oliver Lang, will also enchant children with his food-chain costume and his ability to channel familiar animals that tell him stories containing valuable lessons about conservation.
Expert speakers will present programs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm.  T. David Pitts will speak on hummingbirds and bluebirds, David Unger, Professor of Biology, Maryville College, will speak on wolves and bears. Chris Ogle, with TWRA, will speak on wildlife diversity in Tennessee, and Peg Beute, naturalist with Ijams Nature Center, will offer information about hummingbird plants for your garden.
Stephen Lyn Bales, author of Ghost Birds, will speak about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky:  The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction, will speak on the passenger pigeon. Chris Mahoney, Master Gardener from Chattanooga, will be available to discuss plants and flowering shrubs that can help attract hummingbirds to your garden and Steve McGaffin, Naturalist and Educator for the Knoxville Zoo, will lead a butterfly walk.  Additionally, Lynne McCoy, a wildlife rehabilitator who takes in 600-800 birds and mammals per year, will bring a few of her animal “ambassadors” to meet festival visitors.
The Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival will take place Saturday, August 23th from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and has an admission of $5.00.  Children under six are admitted free.  Hummingbird banding will begin at 8:00 a.m. and last until 2:00 p.m.  The festival is co-sponsored by the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society and Ijams Nature Center, and will be located at Ijams Nature Center, 2915 Island Home Ave., Knoxville, TN  37920 (865-577-4717).
The Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society was organized in 1924 to promote the enjoyment, scientific study and conservation of birds.  The chapter provides the annual JB Owen Award for projects that promote the welfare and conservation of birds in Tennessee.  The organization meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., Room 118 in UT College of Veterinary Medicine.  Activities include field trips each month and spring, fall and Christmas bird counts.  

Ijams Nature Center seeks to increase knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the natural world by providing quality environmental educational programs and nature related experience for all people.  

For more information about the festival, contact Billie Cantwell at 865-567-4273.  

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