Did you know that fourteen different species of hummingbirds have been documented in the eastern United States? Or that some of our Ruby-throated hummingbirds may be traveling west to winter instead of south to Central America and Mexico? That was only two of the interesting bits of information given by Bob and Martha Sargent last night at a packed Ijam's Nature Center in Knoxville, TN. In fact, so many people showed up for the banding demonstration conducted by Knoxville's Mark Armstrong that the crowds were divided into several observation groups and the Sargents gave two presentations to standing room only audiences.
Above you see Mark, President of the Knoxville chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, at his banding station. Hummingbirds are trapped in wire cages that enclose the feeder. The cages are equipped with a door that can be lowered with a fishing wire manipulated by another banding team member who watches a distance away. When a hummer is caught in the trap, he (in this case) is carefully removed by a handler and gently placed in a net bag to help protect him from injury.
A tiny little metal band is clamped onto one leg with a unique number that identifies this particular bird. This number is then recorded at the Bird Banding Labratory, US Geological Survey, Patuxent Research Center, MD. While the hummer is captured, his tail, wing and beak are measured, his weight taken and observations about age and condition are recorded before release.
When the bird is caught again or the band found in other circumstances, biologists can check the number and recorded data and learn valuable information about longevity, species migration patterns, the individual bird and the general health of the species. Watching Mark patiently handle the hummingbird, who is not still mind you and chirping loudly, while simultaneously talking with attentive on-lookers was a marvel unto itself. Knowing that he is an expertly trained Master Bander helped as I felt my heart-tug while hearing the distress calls of a captured hummingbird. It was after seeing this, my first banding demonstration, that I then heard Martha and Bob Sargent's presentation on hummingbirds and discovered some of the amazing reasons why banding is so important. Bob and Martha founded The Hummer/Bird Study Group in 1993, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and preservation of hummingbirds and other neo-tropical migrants.
More information about why banding is so important in my next post.
Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #46 at Birdfreak.com to promote the conservation of our world's birds.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.