AREA WOMAN DISCOVERED HUMMINGBIRD MIGRATION
(Note: The following is condensed from a 1959 article in an area newspaper)
Rockport (Sp) Mrs. Jack (Connie) Hagar of Rockport, nationally-known authority on birds of the Coastal Bend and South Texas and who has spent almost a quarter of a century observing birds, is credited with the discovery of a mass migration of hummingbirds without parallel in the nation.
"So little is known about this movement", Connie Hagar says, "that each year presents a new experience and a greater challenge to the observer. To date, nine species have been regular visitors in September and October, but no study material is available on the subject."
Since 1938, Mrs. Hagar has kept daily checks on the numbers and species of hummingbirds in this area during migration. Three thousand is the greatest number of hummers counted and nine the most species seen during a season.
When Mrs. Hagar started her observation, Ruby-throated and Rufous Hummingbirds were known to pass through this section, Black-chinned were not rare but when westerners like Anna's, Costa, Lucifer and Broad-tailed species arrived in numbers, as the lady says, "It was frustration magnified".
For five years I said nothing. Just checked and counted, then invited other observers to come and help me with checking and counting. Not until 1947 did I report this migration to the National Audubon Society. Now, after 21 years, hundreds of people have seen, checked, counted and photographed the hummingbirds here."
Mrs. Hagar says the birds strike the northern end of Live Oak Peninsula where Rockport stands, and fall all the way down. "Food, of course, is what keeps the birds here for four to five weeks."
In spring, Mrs. Hagar says, the birds feed on nectar and insects caught in the flowers of the trumpet vines, honeysuckles, coral bean, hibiscus and Turk's cap.
In this area", she says, "one can sit all day in a car and look down, not up, and watch the birds flying into and out of blossoms, perching on small twigs and catching minute insects by running out their long tongues. A rare sight."
But how they come and why they come this way, where they leave for Mexico and Central America, only professional ornithologists can tell. As an amateur, I can only enjoy what I see and share it with all who come during the September-October period."
1. CONNIE HAGAR COTTAGE SANCTUARY
The historical location of the Rockport Cottage, purchased by Connie and Jack Hagar. Originally eleven acres with eight cottages, the sight now consists of a 6 ½ acre Sanctuary.
2. CONNIE HAGAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Known locally as Little Bay, this area was designated as a sanctuary by the legislative act in December, 1943. It is managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Nesting platforms for the birds have been erected on the islands in the Sanctuary.
3. CONNIE HAGAR HISTORICAL MARKER
Located at Little Bay, erected September 8, 1990, during the 2nd annual Hummer/Bird Celebration. Due to the extraordinary national and international recognition Connie Hagar received during her lifetime, the Texas State Historical Commission waived its requirement that the marker honoree be deceased no less than 20 years before the dedication of the marker. The Hummer/Bird Celebration is held in fall to celebrate the huge number of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that migrate through our area. This incredible natural phenomenon was first reported by Connie Hagar in 1949.
4. GRAVES OF CONNIE AND JACK HAGAR
Connie passed away on November 29, 1973 and Jack died August 20, 1962. Both are laid to rest at the Rockport Cemetery which overlooks Connie’s favorite birding spots, Little Bay and what used to be known as Frandolig Island (now Key Allegro). Located in the Rockport Cemetery, accessible from either Tule Park Dr. or Picton Ln., travel inside the cemetery, to fourth road, turn left, graves on the left, lined with landscape timbers.