• Darcy Edl

Arizona Hummingbird Festivals

Updated: Jan 7


The end of July and the first part of August offer Arizona a natural wonder! The annual hummingbird migration happens during this time, and there are two hummingbird festivals that you should know about so you can plan for 2021. One is in Sedona, and one is in Eager, Arizona, at Sipe Wildlife Area. Mike and I attended the festival at Sipe, a one-day free event, and all they ask is that you bring one 5 pound bag of pure cane sugar as a donation.

During the last weekend of July 2017, we traveled to Eager, spending the night before in a nearby hotel to get there early. They have scheduled talks all morning. The air is alive with hundreds of hummingbirds zipping around. Rufus, Anna‘s, Broadtail, and Calliope are the most common. The naturalists safely capture these tiny little creatures, band their feet, and then gently place them into the hand of a lucky attendee. The hummingbirds are there for only a second or two before retaking flight with its new jewelry on its ankle.

I learned more than I have ever known about hummingbirds during this 20-minute presentation. For instance, Calliopes are the smallest North American hummingbird and second in the world to the Bee Hummingbird, found in Cuba. In-flight, these birds can fly as fast as 30 mph and over 60 mph in a dive. Rufous Hummingbirds will travel from Alaska and Canada down to Mexico using the Rocky Mountains as their guide. They tend to fly in higher elevations to keep cool as they have a long way to go. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds travel from Florida to Mexico straight across the Gulf of Mexico, which can be 500 miles. Oil rigs in the Gulf have begun putting out hummingbird feeders to give the little guys a break along their way.

In our backyard in Maricopa, we have year-round Broadtail and Anna’s hummingbirds. The festival offered me the opportunity for my first glance at Rufus and Calliope's. It's incredible the number of birds that come to a feeder at one time.

In addition to hummingbird activities, there are projects for kids, wildlife magazines, and books about the area. Throughout the day inside the visitor center, there was a photography speaker and wildlife expert at different times. All of this for the cost of a 5-pound bag of sugar.

Be aware that this is the peak of monsoon season in the White Mountains' higher elevation, so the weather is unpredictable at best. It was beautiful when we got there, but a late morning storm was brewing. Foul weather didn't upset me because I got the opportunity to take pictures of a cloud dumping a load of rain in the distance.

One last piece of advice that I have is to make sure you come early. Parking is limited, and if you don’t get a parking space, the walk can be rather long.


Darcy Edl

Photographer

Cactus Collaborative