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.
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.
Better luck next year!