Bishop Hill 4th Annual Hummingbird Festival returns Aug. 13-14

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

Over the past several years more than a few folks have worked to make the entire town of Bishop Hill a bird friendly town. Their annual Hummingbird Festival, August 13th and 14th, is a celebration of birds, butterflies, and pollinator gardening. They will offer several new programs including a bluebird trail building workshop, a prairie walk, and a humorous talk on the relationships between T-Rex, Wild Turkey and our beloved ruby-throated hummingbirds. There will also be a few old favorite programs, storytelling and music.

On Saturday only, at 5:30 pm, The Commons is partnering with PL Johnson’s to create a dinner theater experience, “Adventures with John James Audubon.” Brian “Fox” Ellis will portray Audubon in this mix of storytelling, comedy, and science to celebrate the beauty of the ruby throated hummingbird. Audubon’s art hangs in the finest museums in the world and will be on display before and after dinner. Reservations are required for the dinner theater, 309-696-1017.

The focus of the children’s program is a scavenger hunt that begins with the making of a hummingbird at The Commons. Children, and the young at heart, will then have a challenge to find flowers from all three seasons, all around town, and then make their own flowers at VASA  and the Methodist Church to succeed in their annual migration north to south and back again. There will be prizes for those who complete the migration successfully.

There is a guided bird walk both mornings from 8:00 -10:00 am. The hike starts at the Twinflower Inn and Fox will be your guide. Fox has seen more than 100 species in and around Bishop Hill and can promise a few good looks at quite a few good birds. Bring binoculars if you have them, if not, extras will be provided. The hike will end in the prairie on the east end of town, near the cemetery, where professional ornithologists Travis Wilcox from Milliken University will be netting and banding birds as part of an ongoing scientific study on bird migration. Visit the bird banding station to learn more and to see local song birds up close and personal before they are safely released. 

Both afternoons there will be a series of guest speakers covering a range of topics including pollinator gardening, hummingbird folktales, hummingbirds relationships to T-rex, and what science tells us about bird banding research. There will also be live music with Cami Proctor from the Blank Stairs on Saturday and Emily the Band on Sunday. And there will be a native plant sale both days. Folks can take home a hummingbird garden to entice these winged jewels into their yards!

The event is sponsored by Fox Tales International, The Twinflower Inn, Wild Birds Unlimited Peoria, Trees Forever, P.L. Johnson’s Dining Room, J. Gourd Pottery, Lakota Studios, The Bishop Hill Creative Commons, The Bishop Hill Arts Council, and The VASA Archives.

 For more information call 309-696-1017 or visit the Commons Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/bhcommons .

The Bishop Hill Hummingbird Festival Schedule:

Saturday, August 13th

  • 8:00 am Bird Watching Hike w/ Fox Starts at The Twinflower Inn
  • 9:00-12:00 Songbird Banding in the Prairie w/ Travis Wilcoxen
  • 12:00 - 4:00 pm  Hummingbird Crafts for Kids at several stations all around town including VASA, the Methodist Church and The Commons
  • 1:00 “It’s not just for the birds” A talk on bird banding w/ Travis Wilcoxen
  • 1:30 A Prairie Wildflower Walk w/ Brad Schwamberger
  • 2:30 T-Rex, Turkeys and Hummingbirds w/ Brad Schwamberger
  • 3:00 Hummingbird Tales: Storytelling w/ Brian “Fox” Ellis
  • 3:30 Music w/
  • 5:30 Dinner Theater w/ John James Audubon

Sunday August 14th

  • 8:00 am Bird Watching Hike w/ Fox starts at The Twinflower Inn
  • 12:00 - 4:00 pm  Hummingbird Crafts for Kids at Several Stations Around Town
  • 12:00 A Prairie Wildflower Walk w/ Brad Schwamberger
  • 1:00 T-Rex, Turkeys and Hummingbirds w/ Brad Schwamberger
  • 1:30 Building Better Bluebird Trails w/ Herb Unkrich
  • 2:00 Music w/ Emily the Band
  • 3:00 Hummingbird Tales: Storytelling w/ Brian “Fox” Ellis