Sept. 2006 Some friends and I drove to Rockport for the annual HummerBird Festival. We had heard that the ruby-throated hummingbird paused in that area before beginning their very long (800 miles long) migration across the Gulf of Mexico. They stopped in Rockport to eat and eat and the people of Rockport assisted them by setting out dozens of feeders. There were lectures to attend, a craft show, plant show, and a bus tour of the area to see all these little amazing birds. The Coastal Bend Audubon Society and Rockport host this event.
The drive to Rockport is not very interesting (no scenic views, no alligator farms – lots of flat) but it doesn’t take long either so I guess it all works out. Once there we signed up for an afternoon tour and set out for the first seminar – “Hummingbirds – Myth and Fact”.
OK – here are a couple of myths and facts. Myth - Hummingbirds have tongues that, like straws, can suck up their liquid nectar. Fact - Hummingbirds have a very long tongue that sort of scoops up nectar and rolls back into the beak. Myth - Hummingbirds exist on a nectar diet only. Fact - They also eat little tiny bugs. Myth - Hummingbirds will only feed on red tubular flowers. Fact - They actually will feed from the sweetest nectar flowers and some experts believe that the flowers in the warm ultra-violet spectrum of light (yellow, peach, pink, orange, light red, dark red, and purple) may contain slightly sweeter nectar. As a point here – I see them at my Mexican Bird of Paradise and those blooms are orange and yellow. Interesting.
The second seminar was “How to Identify Birds” Well, they really needed to call it “Exotic and Weird Birds” because there was no talking about identifying anything we might see in the backyard. Well, maybe the odd turkey vulture but certainly not a kiwi. Not so interesting. However, we did learn according to the Texas Audubon Society, bird watching is becoming the fastest growing sport in the US.
We visited the Plant Sale – so/so. And then the craft show which was pretty nice; a good selection of handmade things along with hummingbird-related resale items.
Then we went to watch the bird banding. The Hummer Banders were located at several private homes. This was really cool stuff. We watched a man gently take a little hummer, attach a metal band to its leg (the band was not bigger than a metal shaving), weigh and measure the bird, check its body fat and ….. place the hummer in an outstretched hand. Those little birds would sit for a second or three and then take off. Yep, very cool. This particular house had dozens of feeders and hundreds of birds. It was a lovely place with a beautiful woodsy yard setting. The next place also had many feeders and little hummers darting all around. This house faced the bay; the landscaping along with an ocean view AND hummingbirds – what more could you want!!!. The bus toured us to other homes with dozens of feeders, more bird banders, and pretty landscaping.
All-in-all, it was a very nice day trip.
Note: The HummerBird Festival takes place each September and unfortunately this years (2017) festival was canceled due to the catastrophic arrival of Hurricane Harvey. As Rockport repairs and regrows itself, hopefully the festival will take place again in the not too distant future.