Today was our first field trip together and it couldn't have gone better. We arrived at the park early, rode the shuttle bus to the nature center and arrived just as one of the nature center staff began talking about the huge black rat snake he was holding. We learned all about the snake, as well as other hummingbird predators. Did you know that praying mantises sometimes eat hummingbirds??
Next, we headed to the hummingbird banding area, where hummer researcher Susan Campbell was in the process of examining and banding the first hummer of the day. When she finished, she turned to Nick and asked if he'd like to release the bird. Wow! He was pretty excited. We all watched as Susan placed the hummer on Nick's palm. The bird sat for about 15 seconds and then took off. Pretty thrilling!
Then we watched the entire process with the second hummer of the day.
Susan wrapped the tiny bird in a "stocking" and then...
let it feed...
and examined it closely with the hand lens.
Then the hummer was ready for release.
The woman who held this hummer for release was so enthralled with it. We all watched, amazed, as the hummer sat on her hand for about 3 minutes.
After the wonder of the hummer banding, we headed into the nature center to listen to a talk by a Master Gardener on Pollination Gardening, growing shrubs, flowers, and herbs that will attract hummers, butterflies, and bees. I decided that I need to plant some weigela plants in my garden this fall, for hummingbird attracting flowers next summer!
After the plant talk we met, Dr. JB, who told us about hummingbird migration, the other varieties of hummers that visit this area in the winter, and the feeder he designed. He told us how he got interested in hummers 40 years ago and shared a bit of hummingbird and bird banding trivia with us. He was supposed to give a later talk, but since we weren't staying that long, he was kind enough to talk to my class before his scheduled presentation. What a fascinating and gracious man!
After all those activities, the kids were ready for a little bounce action! Gotta love their energy.
How about hummer tattoos....
and, of course, no festival would be complete without face painting.
Isn't she cute!
We hiked back to the parking area along the dragonfly pond trail and then came to the house for lunch and a swim. I can't wait to hear the kids talk about the festival when we get together in class next Tuesday.