After two years of training under Cam Finlay and Alison Moran of Rocky Point Bird Observatory, Sue Elwell was able to obtain a sub-banding permit to band hummingbirds. The local Vermilion Forks Field Naturalist club has sponsored this project, giving money for equipment and great moral support. Because of the wonderful, patient and extremely dedicated team of volunteers, the team banded 592 birds and also had 35 recaptured birds. The recaptured birds were from previous banding sessions in 2012 or from previous years. There were two female Calliope which were banded in 2009 and 2010 during training sessions at a host site just out of town and recaptured at the same location – an example of site fidelity. As for the 592 birds banded this year, both sexes of adult and juvenile Rufous, Calliope, Black-chinned and Anna’s were trapped, except for the male Anna’s. This elusive bird was actually observed several times at the Westridge location. The biggest surprise of the year was the discovery of the Anna’s in the area. Prior to this the species had been observed a few times, generally in the fall, so to find them throughout the summer around Princeton and surrounding area was a revelation. With the capture and banding of a female bird in late July with an egg “on board,” it has been determined these birds are nesting in the area! The Rufous, Calliope and Black-chinned are migratory birds, but the general feeling is the Anna’s are a resident bird and will more than likely try to winter over. If you have left your feeder out accidentally and have thought you have seen a hummer around, it is probably this species. Some people feel that they need to take in their feeders to encourage the birds to head south, but this is not so. The need to migrate is so strong that when it is time the migratory birds will go. The Anna’s do not seem to have this need to migrate and seem to put their energy into producing young. It appears they are able to withstand colder temperatures and will go into a torpor, a kind of hibernation, overnight. Because of this, if you find a hummingbird which you think is dead or frozen, don’t be too quick to bury it! Also if you have a hummer still coming in you might want to think about keeping syrup out this winter. You can wrap Christmas lights around a glass feeder which might keep it from freezing, or you can take the feeder in at night and put it back out in the morning. It has also been observed that the birds have been seen at suet, which would be a protein source for them.
The mission statement for Rocky Point Bird Observatory is “Conservation through monitoring, research and public education.” Wherever we went this year, the team handed out material concerning the feeding of the hummingbirds and general information on the local species. Myra Quadling and Terry Tellier had a table set up at the Osprey Lake Labour Day weekend festivities and spoke and passed along great information to anyone who stopped by. Good job, ladies!
Now about the wonderful, patient and extremely dedicated team of volunteers. Terry Tellier and Amanda Lahaie banded all season and have now been recommended and can now apply for their sub-banding permit. The actual banding is only a small part of the whole picture, as the birds need to be trapped and extracted from the nets and all the information needed for the research has to be recorded. Cathy Lahaie, Joann Gabriel, Myra Quadling, Marg Hamblin, Ed Lahaie, Janis Wright, Kathi Eldred and Jason Lahaie did these tasks with great care and expertise, always keeping in mind the welfare of the bird. Of course we could not have banded a single bird without our enthusiastic host families who put up with us arriving on a regular basis at sometimes strange hours and more often than not on short notice.
All this makes for a dream team and a terrific year.