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Hummingbirds in migration

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  • Steve Bouricius
    Hi Everyone, We spent the past few days at our cabin in Peaceful Valley (NW Boulder County) where we banded hummingbirds on the 4th of July. The hummingbird
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 6, 2006
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      Hi Everyone,

      We spent the past few days at our cabin in Peaceful Valley (NW Boulder
      County) where we banded hummingbirds on the 4th of July. The
      hummingbird migration is well underway in the mountains. Between our 18
      feeders and our neighbor's 9 feeders we are able to attract amazing
      numbers of hummingbirds. We caught 76 adult birds including 64
      Broad-tailed, 6 male Rufous, and recaptured 6 Broad-tailed from previous
      years. Within an hour or so of banding the dominant male Rufous
      hummers, we saw several more unbanded Rufous including a female. We
      also had a male Calliope for a while. This is another example of the
      daily, even hourly turnover of birds in migration.

      One male Rufous had about 40% green feathers in it's back, a reminder to
      remain on the lookout for a possible Allen's Hummingbird.

      I also banded dippers there recently and noted the hen from one nest was
      feeding her fledged young in front of the cabin. What great birds they are!

      So far here on East Orchard Mesa we have not detected a Rufous or
      Calliope but they usually show up in the valley a bit later in the
      season. In our apple orchard we have been monitoring 19 Black-chinned
      nests, have banded 10 nestlings, with 4 more to do soon. Female
      Black-chinned are on their second-brood nests now, with a few eggs just
      hatched. With the recent rain to spur insect hatching, it could be a
      good year for Black-chinned Hummingbird recruitment in the Grand Valley.

      Steve Bouricius
      Palisade, CO
    • Steve & Debbie Bouricius
      Hi Everyone, We returned last week from an Arizona-New Mexico trip which included the Hummingbird Banders Conference in Ramsey Canyon, where we enjoyed
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 28, 2007
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        Hi Everyone,

        We returned last week from an Arizona-New Mexico trip which included the
        Hummingbird Banders Conference in Ramsey Canyon, where we enjoyed
        watching eleven species of hummers. We also visited New Mexico
        hummingbird bander Joan Day-Martin who attracts huge numbers of
        migrating birds at her Lake Roberts home. In a couple hours of trapping
        there, we banded about 25 Calliopes (among others) coming to a single
        feeder.

        Along the trip through the mountains of eastern Arizona and western New
        Mexico were great numbers of flowers being used by migrating
        hummingbirds. Wherever there was a patch of scarlet gilia, paint brush,
        Penstemon barbatus, Rocky Mountain bee plant, or American star thistle,
        there were hummers using them. One meadow of about two acres (near
        Nutrioso) was filled with scarlet gilia and had perhaps 300 hummers
        using it. What an experience just to walk through! It really was a
        revelation of how large the country is, how many hummers there are, and
        how they use the resources during migration.

        At one small but concentrated patch of American star thistle, a pine
        forest meadow was also abuzz with hummers. The flower itself is thistle
        like, but it is a native in the sunflower family, with a sunflower like
        leaf and seed (picture below left). There were maybe 20-30 birds of
        four species using that one patch of color. Amazing grace!

        One thing we found interesting was that just as hummers using feeders
        come in waves of heightened activity, so too is this behavior evident at
        wildland flower patches. This likely functions as a defensive mechanism
        against predation, like flocking, where strength lies in numbers.

        Steve Bouricius
        Palisade
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