- Fred Bassett, a hummingbird bander with the Hummer Bird Study Group, was in town in conjunction with Scott Weidensaul's visit to speak at an Apalachee Audubon sponsored event. Since Scott is also a hummingbird bander, he went with us to a couple of homes on Thursday and Friday in hopes of getting to band his first buff-bellied hummingbird.
Prior to his plane's arrival, Fred and I went to a home in Waverly Hills where we caught a very special female rufous. This bird was banded last January at the same home but more importantly, it was recaptured December 15th, in Good Hope, Ga, just east of Atlanta and 240 miles north of here, and made its way here a month later. The hosts in Good Hope had last seen it feeding heavily on December 29th and it was first seen here 2 weeks later. This is a very important piece of data since it supports the theory that these western humming birds that are wintering in the southeast, appear to first take an eastern route then move south as the winter progresses. It is also believed that these birds return to their northwest breeding grounds by taking a western route along the Gulf coast before turning north and returning to their their summer homes.
Next we went to a home on Everette Lane and caught a ruby-throated with a band on its right leg. Checking his records, Fred found that this bird had been originally banded in December at Andy Wraithmel's home, about 2 miles to the south.
We picked up Scott at 11 and went to a home off Buck Lake that had been seeing a buff-bellied hummingbird for the past two weeks. On January 12, we caught a ruby-throated at this house, but it had apparently been run off by the new bird. About 10 minutes after setting up the trap, the bird showed up and flew into the trap. Scott was not able to band this bird since it already was wearing a band! Again Fred checked his records and to his surprise found that it was a bird he had banded earlier this winter in Fairhope, Alabama, about 215 miles west of Tallahassee.
Later in the day we tried unsuccessfully to catch a striking male rufous that came to the trap a number of times but refused to go in.
Friday morning brought some very good news. When I checked my email, I found a note from Glenda Simmons, a buff-bellied host from earlier this season, saying that Terry Parker had a buff-bellied hummingbird at his home in Killearn Acres. Terry had attended Fred's talk at Native Nurseries on January 10th and decided to buy a feeder and put it up. I also talked to him about a bluebirds and he decided to get a box that I had made and try that too. Two days later he had what appeared to be a ruby-throated hummer at his feeder. We arrived at his home about 8:00 and as we were setting up the trap, the first hummer buzzed up, took a long look and headed off over the fence. About 10 minutes later the buff-belied showed up and eventually worked its way to the trap and went in. This time the bird did not have a band and Scott was finally able to band his first buff-bellied hummingbird. Fred tried again to catch the male rufous, but it came to the trap
several more times but refused to go in.
A very good visit by Fred Bassett, and having three same year recaptures of three different species, provides some great data for researchers who are working to determining the migration patterns of these birds that 20 years ago were not thought to be here at all, much less come here on purpose.
Fred will be back in 2 weeks so watch your feeders and contact him at fhound@... if you have a hummer and would like to have him come and band it.
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