Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

Learn About High Country Hummingbirds At July 27 Festival

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again offering a unique opportunity for people to learn more about Arizona's colorful forest hummingbirds at the 10th annual High Country Hummers Festival on Saturday, July 27, at the department's Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area located near Eagar in eastern Arizona.

Sheri Williamson, one of the nation's foremost experts on hummingbirds, will lead a capture and bird-banding event with the assistance of a group of volunteers. The event is free and open to the public.

Up Close And Personal

"This is a fantastic opportunity for people to get up close and personal with these flying jewels," says Bruce Sitko, spokesman in the department's Pinetop office. "We are quite fortunate to get Sheri, who is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, to come with her staff of dedicated volunteers and demonstrate her research."

This free, one-of-a-kind program will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at noon. Costs are underwritten by the department's Heritage Fund. Supported by Arizona lottery dollars, the Heritage Fund is dedicated to the education, conservation and enhancement of Arizona's wildlife, biological diversity, scenic wonders and environment.

‘But Wait; There’s More’

Other fun programs will also be offered at the wildlife area that day. There will be educational exhibits featuring live hawks and owls. You can even get your photo taken with one. Visitors can view a presentation on hummingbird natural history.

At 8:30 a.m., department staff will discuss and instruct on how to photograph hummingbirds. Be sure to bring your camera and a tripod for this hands-on activity. Staff will also lead a "birding basics" program, including identification tips and technological tools available to aid in learning about our avian visitors.

People are welcome to explore the visitor center's interpretive displays on wildlife conservation, habitats and prehistoric culture. Breakfast and lunch concessions will be provided by the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"We encourage visitors to come prepared to spend most of the morning outdoors with potential of some summer rain," says Sitko. "It’s a good idea to bring a camera, as there will be plenty of great photo opportunities. We also require that pets be kept on a leash."

The SABO Mission

Williamson, together with her husband Tom Wood, founded and operate the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO), which is a non-profit scientific and educational organization based in Bisbee. SABO's mission is to promote conservation of birds, their habitats and the diversity of species that share those habitats through research, monitoring and public education.

To get to the wildlife area, take Highway 191 from Eagar toward Alpine two miles to the signed turnoff at the top of the first hill. Drive south five miles to the property on a gravel road suitable for cars. For more information, visit the High Country Hummers Web page at http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/hummingbird.shtml.


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