I went to the Hummingbird banding event at Gail Woody’s house yesterday morning. It was an amazing sight to behold.
A young girl would catch the hummers when they flew into cages set up with feeders. She put them in mesh bags, then hung the bags in the shade under a tent until a worker could measure it.
The first thing the workers do is to put a miniscule aluminum band around the bird’s leg. This band is so small it doesn’t even register on a very sensitive digital scale. it assigns a number to each bird so that, if caught again, it can be reexamined for growth, migration information, etc.
They measured its wing length and inspected it with a loupe. This helped them determine the sex of the hummer.
After the wing was measured, they would measure the tail feathers.
Next, they measured the beak length and looked at it closely with the loupe for striations. She explained that they were going to study the striations, thinking these might be a way of aging a hummer.
Adding insult to injury, they turn the baby over and blow on its belly through a straw, checking for body fat. They found one who weighed over 5 grams, or about 5 standard paper clips. And it was considered huge!
They weigh them, then hold them to a feeder so they can get some energy before being released. The kids were allowed to hold the tiny birds and release them. What a memorable thing for a child.
Thanks, Gail, for a wonderful experience.