Sunday, July 6, 2014 Rufous Hummingbird banding project

Seward, Alaska

Stacy Jon Peterson and his well-trained family set up a hummingbird banding station at Ava's this weekend. To catch the hummers, a hummingbird feeder was placed inside a specially designed cage. The only door was held open by a long piece of fishing line attached to the attendant, either one of the two Peterson kids. When a hummingbird ventured inside, down came the wire screen door. Then it was just a matter of catching the little hummer and delivering it to the banding table.

The first hummingbird of the morning was a female that was banded about the same time last year! The rest of the day's 5 hummers were previously unbanded, including 3 males of this year's hatch.

After a brief inspection, the bird was weighed, measured, and banded with a miniscule leg band. Think toothpick for a leg size, the skinny kind. Then the top of the head was marked with a dab of water-soluble marker to ensure quick recognition and release if recaptured.

A lucky volunteer gets to release the miniature jewel, placed gently on an open palm. I could feel his tiny heart beating so fast it was just a vibration, "hummmmm." After a short time, zing! off he shot with stories about being abducted by aliens, with a band on his leg and white paint on his head to prove it.

Fifteen wondrous Rufous Hummingbirds were banded at Ava's over the course of two days. Several were this year's hatch, and the majority were males. Last year, 11 were banded, and 11 others had already been branded. One can only hope that these missing birds are nesting somewhere else...

 were If you are lucky to have hummers, clean and refill your hummer feeder 4:1 sugar water solution often so it's nice and clean for the newly fledged hummers and their hungry moms.

In addition to the hummers, once again, it's baby bird time at Ava's: DOWNY and HAIRY WOODPECKERS, PINE GROSBEAKS, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, TREE and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, SONG SPARROWS and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. PINE SISKINS, which were rare this past winter, nested nearby. It was so nice to see and hear them again, with fledglings.

Another treat was a brief appearance of at least two CROSSBILLS. They flew off before I could identify the species, but WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS have been in the area for the past several weeks. Robin C reported the first RED CROSSBILLS of the year recently, over by the Seward Elementary School, so both species are in the area.

Stop by Ava's for a bird fix; it's just buzzing with action. If you can, please bring black oil sunflower seeds to help her keep up with all those hungry birds. She has found this to be the preferred food, summer and winter.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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