Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Banding demo bust

This past weekend we went to Lake Hope State Park in the hopes of watching a hummingbird banding demo. Mother Nature had other plans.

Everything was all set up, and the park naturalist took down all of the existing feeders to try to draw the hummers into the location where the mist net was set up. But the birds didn't take the bait. We all sat there for an hour and 40 minutes, at which point the bander (Allen Chartier) finally threw in the towel. He said that based on past experience, the birds usually all rush in at once at the beginning and then dwindle from there on out. Since we started out with zero, well... it could only get worse, right? Funny thing was, as soon as he went in the containment area to grab the feeders, a hummer zipped right past him (outside the net, of course). Several of us saw it and encouraged him to reconsider, but he thought we were messing with him. Oh well. C'est la vie.

The "bait" - two feeders set up within the containment area.

Preparing the mist nets around the feeders.

Mr. Chartier said he had great success with this method of capturing the birds last year. I believe he said they caught 22 birds in 2 hours last year, up from 9 the previous year (when he used a different "trap"). And then down to ZERO this year. Bummer. The park naturalist said that the hummer numbers have been down in the last week or so, and Mr. Chartier theorized that one reason they may not have been interested in our feeders is because they are actively in the middle of rearing their young right now, and so are more concerned with getting insects for the babies rather than stopping in for nectar.

One cool thing we did get to see was the actual bands that they put on the hummers. Pretty tiny, as I'm sure you can imagine.

Whoops! Now we know a bunch of little hummer social security numbers!

Better luck next year!


Richard King said...

Shame about the weekend, maybe next time.
My poor eyes always have trouble reading little bird bands! They look even smaller.

Ginnymo said...

I always wonder if those bands hurt them after a while or weigh them down at times. I guess I always feel sorry for the critters..Ha! Ha! Interesting post heather. I enjoyed it.

Kelly said...

...I wondered how they "baited" the nets. Now I see...and those bands. They are so tiny!! Wish a few had flown in.

(I saw that Hooded Warbler tons of Common Yellowthroats!)

Gabrielle said...

I'm sorry the demo didn't work out. That would have been amazing to see! But maybe the hummers remember what happened last year...

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Too bad that the banding did not go off as expected. I had seen a drop at my feeders too and now I know why thanks to your post. A lot of birds must be very busy now with those little juvenile delinquents :-)

Heather said...

Richard - Yes, hopefully we will have better luck next year! I imagine a magnifying glass comes in handy when trying to read these tiny bands.

Ginny - The bands are designed with the bird's comfort in mind. He told us how much they weigh, and I don't remember the number, but I know it's light enough that they'll hardly even notice it.

Kelly - I think getting hummers to fly into a mist net is harder than your average song bird - I don't think they "bait" the nets for songbirds, just the hummers.

Gabrielle - It would have been AWESOME to see, but you're right, maybe they do remember what happened last year!

Lona - I haven't noticed too much of a drop in activity at my hummer feeders, but activity at the suet feeders has slowed a little bit. I see so many juvenile birds out right now. We have some very loud juvie Red-Shouldered Hawks in our woods right now, but I can't ever get them sighted in my binoculars!