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Tue, Sept. 17

Birding: Upcoming festivals provide opportunity to see hummingbirds

The Sedona Hummingbird Festival is this weekend at the Sedona Performing Arts Center located at Sedona Red Rock High School. The festival begins on Friday the 28th and runs through Sunday the 30th.

A variety of activities are being offered as part of the festival, including hummingbird garden tours. This is a self-guided garden tour allowing you to visit private residences in the Sedona area to see what homeowners are doing to attract large numbers of hummingbirds to their yard through landscaping and feeders.

There will also be hummingbird banding again this year. Mist nets will be set up to capture hummingbirds that will then be looked over to determine age, sex, weight and to see if they have been previously banded. Un-banded birds will be fitted with a tiny band on one leg so its movement can be scientifically tracked.

As part of the festival, Northern Arizona Audubon Society will be leading bird watching trips to both Page Springs Fish Hatchery and to Oak Creek Canyon. On Friday, Dena Greenwood, manager of the Sedona Jay’s Bird Barn store, will be speaking on hummingbirds (and other birds) of the Verde Valley.

As a company, Jay’s Bird Barn has been a supporter and has attended the festival every year since its inception, and this year will be no different. There will be a Hummingbird Marketplace with exhibitors and vendors in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center where you can shop for everything hummingbird.

Here are some interesting hummingbird facts:

There are approximately 325 different species of hummingbirds in the world.

Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere.

Arizona has more hummingbird species than any other state in the United States. The majority of the species are restricted to the southeast corner of Arizona.

The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, measuring just over two inches in length and weighs only 1.95 grams.

Hummingbirds have the most rapid wing beat of all bird species, up to 80 beats per second.

Hummingbirds have the most rapid heart rate of all birds, up to 1,200 beats per minute during activity.

Hummingbirds have the ability to hover for long periods of time and can fly in any direction, even backwards.

Growing up in southern Arizona, I was fortunate to have the opportunity on many occasions to visit some of the famous hummingbird hot spots such as Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, the Paton House in Patagonia, and Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains.

Southern Arizona is probably one of the only places in the United States where you can see violet-crowned hummingbirds, Lucifer hummingbirds, white-eared hummingbirds, Berylline hummingbirds and the plain-capped starthroat (a type of hummingbird).

On July 10, 1975 I had my one and only sighting of a Berylline’s hummingbird. I was fifteen years old, and Gale and Sally Monson invited me to go to Ramsey Canyon to see this rare species. This is a memory I still treasure. I was blessed as a young man to have wonderful mentors who shared with me their knowledge and passion for birds.

The Sibley Guide to Birds contains 19 species of hummingbirds found in the United States. I have seen 17 of the 19 species! The two I have not seen are considered “accidental”, meaning they are an extremely rare visitor from Mexico.

If you cannot make the Hummingbird Festival this week, you might consider attending the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival next week in Sierra Vista. Numerous bird watching trips will be offered to each of the hummingbird hot spots in southern Arizona.

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with three locations in northern Arizona – Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.

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