Michigan Hummingbird Festival Follow-up

Once again this year, event organizers were worried that an early morning rain would detract from this year’s festival. Before 8:00 am, phone calls started coming in to River Lake Inn asking if the 4th Annual Michigan Hummingbird Festival were still on—callers were delighted to hear that it was. By mid-morning, clouds were replaced by sun and clear sky.

As a result, this year’s Hummingbird Festival, held on Saturday, July 31st at River Lake Inn, near Colon, had record attendance. More than 1,000 people attended the daylong event.

Allen Chartier, renowned expert on hummingbirds and lead researcher at the event, said, “The River Lake Inn provides an excellent venue for this festival which allows us to educate the public about hummingbirds, the environment, and our research, and is a great place to have dinner any time while enjoying these tiny jewels flying all around you.”

Those in attendance came from across America including Sarasota, Florida; Pineville, Missouri and Wofford Heights, California. Participants also included an international visitor this year—a foreign exchange student from Thailand.

A couple from Lewiston, in northern Michigan drove down for the event with a photo of a hummingbird they photographed at their feeder they wanted to identify. Allen Chartier, hummingbird expert, indentified the bird for the couple as a Rufous Hummingbird. Although not seen frequently, Rufous hummingbirds are occasionally spotted in Michigan.

As in past years, attendees could participate in an Adopt-a-Hummer program to help support hummingbird research. For a $10 donation, participants are given a certificate each with an individual band number for a particular hummingbird and description of its age and sex. If the bird is ever recaptured, the adoptee receives notification with date and location. More than 100 people adopted a hummingbird—nearly double the number in 2009.

Not only was this year’s attendance the largest since the festival began, but also the greatest number, by far, of hummingbirds captured and banded. Overall, 62 hummingbirds were captured. Sixteen mature males and forty-three mature females were banded. Three of this year’s offspring were also banded.

Brenda Keith, research bander, says many more hummingbirds could have been captured and banded that morning, but for the safety of the birds, one of the traps was not opened due to the weather conditions and other traps were shut down early so that additional captures would not be unnecessarily stressed while waiting turn to be banded.

Five additional hummingbirds, all females, were recaptured from previous years—four (4) banded in 2009 and one (1) in 2008. It is believed that hummingbirds live an average of three to five years. It also confirms that the individual birds return to the same nesting locations each spring and complete a 2,000-mile migration to the ruby-throated hummingbirds’ winter range in Central America.

In early August, male hummingbirds begin their departure from our area for Central America. Females and juveniles depart during August and September.

Hummingbirds were not the only draw at this year’s event. The Birds of Prey program presented by Karen Kramer Wilson of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, gathered an audience of nearly 200. Pat Morgan, event organizer, says, “Karen had people, young and old, absolutely mesmerized.”

The public can still enjoy large numbers of hummingbirds close up at River Lake Inn Trails & Gardens, which is known for attracting large numbers of these birds. The restaurant is located at 767 Ralston Road near Colon, Michigan,
(269) 432-2626. www.riverlakeinnrestaurant.com

Pat Morgan, organizer for the event says, “We are truly delighted with the level of interest and response from the public. Not only was there a record turnout for the event, but everyone seemed to have a fun-filled day enjoying River Lake Inn’s beautiful gardens and nature trails, visiting the exhibitors and vendors and maybe even getting a hummingbird tattoo.”

Planning is taking place for next year’s Michigan Hummingbird Festival, at River Lake Inn Trails & Gardens tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 30, 2011.

This entry was posted in Business News, Local Chatter. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.