KNOXVILLE, TN – – If you love learning about hummingbirds, butterflies and gardening, attend the ninth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 at Ijams Nature Center. You could even get a chance to hold a ruby-throated hummingbird.
As part of the event, Mark Armstrong, a certified master bander, demonstrates how ruby-throated hummingbirds are harmlessly captured, weighed, measured and banded. Because ruby-throated hummingbirds are most active in the early morning, banding demonstrations take place from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or until the last bird is captured, so attendees should come early for the best chance to see a bird.
Small groups visit Armstrong’s banding station to learn about these tiny creatures, which normally weigh about one-tenth of an ounce, while he applies a numbered band to the bird’s leg. The band helps scientists track the bird’s migration. When banding is complete, one member of the group releases the hummingbird, which now can continue a journey that includes a 500-mile, nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.
This overseas flight takes about 20 hours in favorable conditions. During that time, the bird’s heart rate is about 1,200 beats per minute and its wings beat 53 times per second. To prepare, these fierce omnivores double their body mass by feeding on nectar and insects in the weeks prior to departure and can be seen chasing other birds and bees from their favorite food sources.
Native species such as trumpet honeysuckle, bee balm, cardinal flower, trumpet vine, salvia and columbine are excellent food sources for ruby-throated hummingbirds. Feeders are a great way to supplement natural nectar, but must be cleaned regularly to provide safe feeding.
The event also features nature talks led by expert gardeners, naturalists and birders, as well as visits with Ijams’ animal ambassadors, kids’ activities and crafts, and a marketplace featuring locally-made arts and crafts, bird feeders and supplies, plants and garden décor, as well as food trucks and a beer garden. At the end of each session, attendees will have the chance to win a Perky Pet Hummingbird feeder.
Admission to the festival is $8 for ages 12 and older, $4 for children ages 5-11, and $20 per family (includes parents or guardians and up to four children). Children 4 and under are free.
The 9th annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival is sponsored by WBIR-TV Channel 10, Ergon Terminaling, Inc., HomeTrust Bank, Agri Feed Pet Supply, City of Knoxville, Redfin, Renewal by Anderson, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Visit Knoxville and Wild Birds Unlimited, with support from Perky Pet and The Round-Up Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor.
For more information, visit https://Ijams.org.
Photo credit: Oak Roots Creative
Ijams Nature Center
Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs that focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking classes and art programs. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.