While early arrivals claim the parking spaces near the door, often the visitors who arrive later park so far away, that U.S. Forest Service vans must be dispatched to transport them to and from the festival area.
“We don’t mind that at all,” said Aviva Yasgur, naturalist at the Nature Station during last weekend’s festival. “We are thrilled to have so many people enjoy their day at the Nature Station and share in the day’s activities. Many of them are return visitors. Just like the hummingbirds, they come back every year.”
Visitors to the Nature Station this year were impressed by the lush gardens and flowering plants that have thrived in this summer’s cooler weather and above-average rainfall. During last year’s drought, the hummingbirds swarmed the many feeders located in the center garden, but with so many bright colorful blooms in the area this year, the fluttering creatures had a buffet of bright colors from which to choose.
Part of the educational aspect of the festival is to provide visitors with ideas of what kinds of flowers they can plant in their own yards to attract the tiny creatures every year. “Native flowers are the best,” cautioned Yasgur, “with plants that are native to area, you don’t have nearly the problem of pests or diseases, and they tolerate the extreme temperatures that have occurred in this area. We get a lot of assistance from the McManus family in Murray, as they work with us in harvesting the LBL seeds and help us nurture them into plants that we can place in different locations and also provide them for sale to our visitors during various events. That way we can have some funding to put back into our educational programs.”
Yasgur also pointed out the hummingbird feeders which contained pure sugar water, without the red dye. “It’s not necessary to color it red; that is a marketing tool that a store will use to attract customers, rather than birds,” Yasgur explained. “It’s just one part sugar to four parts water; it should be boiled and then cooled and stored in the refrigerator . The hummingbirds will find it; they don’t need the red color to attract them, and the red color is not natural,” she cautioned.
Hummingbird banders, Brainard Palmer-Ball Jr. and Mark Monroe were, again, on hand to attach tiny bands to tiny feet and record each bird’s time and location. They have tracked the birds’ migratory routes for years and enjoy sharing the experience with LBL visitors each year, as a lucky few are elated to hold the tiny tube where the bird is safely secured during the band attachment. With a “slight of hand” and a tiny hummingbird “shake,” the bird slips out of the tube into the palm of the hand, takes a few annoyed glances around, and flutters back to the feeder.
Visitors are still encouraged to visit the Nature Station to observe the hummingbirds as thousands of them are still making their migratory journey to the Gulf of Mexico, where they will either stay along the shoreline or actually make the journey across the gulf, enroute to the winter destination. Yasgur advised local residents not to worry about when to take down their feeders for the year.
“The hummingbirds know when to depart; leave your feeders up as long as you have birds, because they need the nourishment for them to migrate,” Yasgur said.
“You cannot encourage them to stay; you can only help them along their journey.”
More information about the hummingbirds and native plantings that will attract them may be found at the Nature Station which is open every day.
The local grower who assisted them may be found on Facebook which is entitled “Beans to Blossoms.”