"This is a great place to stop," says Katie Boyle. The place is the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and the stoppers are hundreds, if not thousands, of ruby-throated hummingbirds that are in the midst of their fall migration from Canada to South and Central America.
According to Boyle, the center's outreach and education director, the birds' migration path takes them through the area between September and October, so Strawberry Plains schedules its annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration near the middle. This year's event is September 11th-13th and includes nature walks, arts and crafts, a plant sale, guest speakers, and a number of presentations that cover not only hummingbirds but the other birds and animals that live around the 2,600-acre center.
The banding of the hummingbirds is one of Migration Celebration's most popular demonstrations. A tiny band is put around the ankle of the bird by an expert, who then lets someone from the audience hold it. The birds, who beat their wings 40 to 80 times per second, are in a torpor during banding, so when they are placed in the palm of a hand, they are very, very still ... until the bird snaps out of it in a burst and flies away.