Dear Mom

What Does Hummingbird Banding Teach Us?

This post makes me think of my mom, because she was always curious as to how exactly researchers were able to study and learn about hummingbirds.  When this subject came up in discussion, my mom had said to me that she had heard of the term banding before but that she wasn’t really sure how that would tell researchers any kind of useful information.  At the time, I did not have an explanation that would answer her question.  Well, I have since discovered the answer and will now share it with all of you.

The term banding simply refers to the placement of tiny, lightweight aluminum band on the hummingbird’s feet which has a unique identification number on them that will belong to a specific bird throughout its entire lifetime.  This band will serve to help researchers begin to better understand things like hummingbird migration, behavior, ecology, and biology.  The collective information gathered by the various banders or members of the pubic will  provide information on things such as longevity survivorship, site fidelity, migration routes, and the timing of these birds.

While the bird is being banded, it remains in captivity only for a very brief period of time, a matter of just a few minutes, so absolutely no harm will come to the bird as a result of it.  During this time, researchers are gathering data on such things as the bids species, age, sex,the lengths of the bird’s bill, wing and tail, the condition of the feathers, evidence as to whether or not breeding has taken place, if disease or parasites are found on the bird, and finally pollen samples or some of the feathers may be gathered and studied.

So you see, even the brief encounters that the bird banders get to have with the hummingbirds it provides them with valuable information on these birds.  Are you at all surprised by just how much hummingbird banding can teach us about these birds?  I truly believe that my mom would have been completely shocked to discover the sheer volume of information that hummingbird banding can tell us about these utterly fascinating birds.  With luck, this knowledge will help to ensure the long-term survival of these creatures called hummingbirds.

Much of the information for this post comes from Patterson Field Guides:  Hummingbirds of North America by Sheri L. Williamson.  As the author of this book, I wish to ensure that she is given proper credit for her work.  Thanks for providing such an informative resource for anyone wanting to learn about hummingbirds. 

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