Hummingbird Banding Day
March 8th, 2002
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For the last few weeks of the winter season, I had a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) visiting my feeders. On March 8th, Charlie Brower, a hummingbird bander, came over to my place to trap and band the bird. Here are a series of photos showing the proceedure. The Rufous was identified as an 'after hatch year female', meaning she is an adult. Her band number is R22156. She weighed 3.4 grams and was still molting, which means she was not yet ready to leave for her summer breeding grounds in the west. She stayed for about 2 more weeks - my last recorded sighting of her was 3/21/02.
Removing the hummer from the trap, which she entered only 10 minutes after placing the feeder inside!
Here, Charlie is placing the tiny band on the hummer's right leg
Measuring the length of the bill
Banding the hummer is easiest before removing it from the safety of the bag
Checking the wing feathers. Her wing chord measured 46.0 mm.  P1 through p6 had been replaced, p7 had not grown to full length, p8 was just molted and had started to grow in. P9 and p10 were heavily worn.

Examining the tail feathers - this differentiates between Rufous and Allen's Hummingbirds, 2 very similar species.
The netting and clip are weighed before hand so that the scale can be calibrated.
This female rufous weighed 3.4 grams
Rufous females typically have a spotted area in the center of the gorget.
A better view of the tail feathers. This bird was still in heavy molt, and had only replaced r1 and r2 on each side. The tail measured 26.0 mm.
Ready to be released - she stayed like this for several minutes! Selasphorus hummingbirds become very docile when handled. This is not the same as going into torpor, which is a hibernation like state, that the hummers use to conserve energy on cold nights. After flying away, we didn't see her for a couple of hours, allowing the lurking hummingbirds to come in and take a turn at the feeders. Among them was a female Black-chinned which stayed in the area into April.
Post-script:
Here's the banded female Rufous, photographed a week later, wearing her shiny new anklet on her right leg.

More incredible news is the fact that she returned to my backyard the following October, was trapped again on Nov 7th, 02 to confirm the number on her band and is still here as of Feb 25th, 03. View photos here.
© 2002 Helen Baines