LAKE JACKSON

S ome seated, others standing, a crowd of residents gathered around Gulf Coast Bird Observatory staff to try to catch an up-close look at the red-tinted ruby-throated hummingbirds.

The hummingbirds came from as far north as Canada and migrated through the area, giving hundreds of residents a chance to see the birds Saturday at the Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza. Observatory staff captured, banded, weighed and measured the birds at the event, which gave the public a chance to watch the entire process.

The Xtravaganza continues Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. at the observatory. The cost is $4 per person, with children ages 12 and younger admitted for free.

It’s a great event because hummingbirds really capture the human imagination, Education and Outreach Manager Jennifer Horton said.

“Even people who aren’t that really into nature or birding are usually fascinated by hummingbirds,” she said. “So it can be a great way to pull people in and possibly set off that spark that prompts them to want to learn more or to pay more attention to the natural world around them.”

During the extravaganza, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory staff had fun facts posted all through the facility grounds. Ruby-throated hummingbirds’ wings beat so fast, about 55 to 75 beats per second, that they are a blur to the human eye.

The day is a special opportunity for kids and adults to see nature and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory staff doing a fantastic job setting up events, Richard McGonigle said.

“Everything these guys do is really, really cool,” he said. “It is a fantastic piece of property that is being put to use to get kids educated in the environmental sciences. It’s a home for something that’s really, really valuable.”

McGonigle, who traveled from Alvin, has been coming to the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory with his family for years, he said.

“The whole Houston region, people come from all over the Houston area to come down here,” he said.

Kim Muery decided to attend partly for her daughter and also because she is new to the area, she said.

“She loves being outdoors,” she said of her daughter. “We just wanted her to take a look at it firsthand. Be up close to it.”

The extravaganza is something fun and educational for just about everyone in and around Brazoria County, Horton said.

“We want people to leave the event with even more appreciation for these incredible little birds, and perhaps to get them thinking more about the other birds they may encounter every day that may not be as flashy as the hummingbirds but equally deserving of our appreciation and care,” she said.

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0150.

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