The Yew Dell Botanical Gardens  hosted their annual Hummingbird Festival on Saturday with more than 700 people attending, including vast numbers of enthusiasts, casual bird watchers, photographers, and children. Visitors were able to spot several hummingbirds around the 34-acre botanical gardens, gain knowledge about hummingbird research, and learn tips to better photograph the birds. There were several other activities for children.
Guests were able to walk through the gardens on a self-guided tour. Several had maps, binoculars, and cameras in-hand, and everyone seemed anxious to see even a glimpse of the tiny birds up close. The weather could not have been more perfect for the event.
One of the first places to stop was in front of the Klein Home, possibly the best spot for hummingbird viewing. Feeders were placed in cages in front of the house where Mark Monroe, a local hummingbird expert, stood watchful and ready to pull a hidden string to capture hungry hummingbirds. Once the cage was shut, Monroe gently removed each hummingbird and placed it into a small net bag. Each time he did this, people quickly gathered around to see the hummingbird and ask him a slew of questions. Monroe took every opportunity to provide the crowd with the answers they sought.
Monroe then walked to the Pavilion and handed the bird to Brainard Palmer Ball, another local hummingbird expert. At the steps of the Pavilion, Ball had a continuous crowd gathered around him to watch him work. Ball first removed the bird from the netting and then placed it into a small pouch, almost like a sleeping bag. He then proceeded to take measurements of the bird’s beak, wings, tail, and body. All the while, he was busy answering even more questions from the curious crowd. Children were able to get an exclusive front seat view of the entire process. With each new bird that Ball measured, he selected an eager child to hold the bird and set it free, to the delight of the crowd.
During specific interludes in the Castle, visitors were able to view a short video about hummingbirds and hear renowned hummingbird photographer, Russ Thompson, speak about his experiences photographing hummingbirds. He also offered up helpful tips to aspiring photographers.
A mass of children gathered in Holly Allee to become hummingbirds and hear hummingbird stories. The large spaces allowed the kids to create their own custom-made costumes, run around, and fly like the birds they all came to see. A volunteer was on-hand to read to the children.
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens (6220 Old LaGrange Road in Crestwood) is a public botanical garden and horticulture resource center offering garden, plant, and environmental educational programs for all levels, including informal hands-on workshops, casual plant walks, and community events. Yew Dell is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Preservation Project of the Garden Conservancy, a national non-profit dedicated to preserving the nation's most exceptional gardens.
Photos by Scott Gibson