Banding the Tiniest of Tiny – Hummingbirds by Josh Haas
When it comes to banding birds, there are lots of certified banders across the United States licensed to band birds ranging from large Raptors all the way down to passerine song birds but what about our beloved minuscule Hummingbirds? There are even banders for those little buggers, however, there are far less licensed to do so.
When it comes to Hummingbirds, it takes a steady hand and a lot of patience for banding. The band itself is so small; they have to be hand cut and shaped by the bander. Handling the little hummers is also a special art. Because of these things, very few individuals are even allowed to band hummingbirds. So few in fact, in Michigan there are only two Hummingbird banders licensed to do so; both of which, are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable in the field. One of Michigan’s licensed banders happens to be a great friend of ours and recently we hosted her and her husband for dinner and banding!
Our family is lucky enough to live on a property where Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flourish. We are not a site with hundreds and hundreds but we have a good amount of birds consistently each year. As the bander arrived and set up the cages surrounding the feeders, it was just a matter of time before the first two hummers entered and were caught. This happened within a matter of minutes which gave us great hope. All the while, many more hummers were flying and fighting through the air showing that good numbers were around. Once the bander begins to inspect the bird, she determines things like sex, age, and takes note of other data which will later be entered in the Bird Banding Laboratory database.
This was a great evening with friends. It also proved to be fun for our 6-month old, Lillian. Our Lily Bean already enjoys watching the Hummers at our feeder outside the living room window, although she does go back to playing in her exersaucer often! While we had good hopes of banding several hummingbirds that evening, we think increasing winds made the birds more apprehensive of the cages and we only ended up banding the two first birds. Here’s to next year and who knows, maybe we’ll see our two banded buggers at the feeder for another couple months!