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Rockport HummerBird Celebration from Your Own Backyard

Hummingbirds are coming to town, and Rockport is ready to celebrate the annual migration despite the threat of COVID-19. With large gatherings restricted, the event has gone virtual this year, still retaining a powerful lineup of speakers and other events, a vendor auction, and a souvenir site.

With the recent increase of COVID-19 cases across Texas, officials have decided this year's HummerBird Celebration will be held virtually. The event is scheduled for Sept. 17-20 with an all-virtual festival pass for speakers and banding demonstrations. Add-ons include a virtual Hummer Home tour, a photography class, and a vendor auction.

“Our staff and committee have worked diligently to modify the event and to make the HummerBird Celebration available via the Zoom video conferencing platform,” said Melody Waggoner, chair of the 32nd annual HummerBird Celebration. “We will maintain the quality programming patrons have come to expect.”

The fall tradition, which began in 1988, has evolved into one of the largest and most celebrated annual birding events in the country with more than 3,000 participants from the United States and other countries attending.

An all-virtual pass fee of $20 gives users access to six speaker programs/lectures and a series of add-ons. Users will receive a Zoom link by email the week of the event. A merchandise store will be set up online for those who want to buy the 32nd annual HummerBird Celebration T-Shirt and other items. Closer to the event date, a link will be released for a vendor auction.

The HummerBird event was founded by part-time resident Betty Baker, wildlife expert Jesse Grantham, and others to celebrate the spectacle of ruby-throated hummingbirds migrating through the Rockport-Fulton area en route to their winter homes in Mexico. First documented by famous Texas birdwatcher Connie Hagar, the hummingbirds make a rest stop in Rockport-Fulton each fall to prepare for the 800-plus-mile leg of a nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. The hummingbirds must eat to increase body fat up to 50 percent as fuel for migration.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials created the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail in 1995, unveiling the first sign of Site #50 at the Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary in Rockport. In 2011, a local venue tax funded Aransas Pathways to protect birding and its history, while adding kayak, bike-and-hike sites and trails across the county.

The HummerBird Celebration legacy has created a historical footprint for Aransas County. With the help of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, loyal attendees and birding enthusiasts can still enjoy this festival in virtual form, despite the threat of a pandemic.

“In an effort to keep everyone safe, we believe it is best to do an all-virtual event this year in view of the steadily increasing number of COVID-19 cases throughout Texas,” Waggoner said. “It was a very difficult decision but one that we felt was necessary given the circumstances.”

The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is located at 319 Broadway St. in downtown Rockport and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 pm. For more information, call 361-729-6445 or visit the website or Facebook @visitrockportfulton and @rockportfultonchamber.

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