Hummingbirds in migration
- 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.
- 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
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.