Friday, October 5, 2007

Winter Hummingbirds, banding and the Freds!

Fred Bassett is an expert in hummingbirds and he travels all over the country to band them. He is one of many dedicated banders belonging to the Hummingbird Study Group and together they have contributed a lot of scientific data regarding the migration and habits of our beloved hummers.

Many of you will probably have met the Freds, Bassett and Dietrich on their winter visits to Tallahassee. They have captured, banded and released hundreds of hummingbirds that have migrated to Tallahassee for the winter. Fred has banded hummingbirds in Mary & Susan's yard as well as mine.

Susan is holding a Black-chinned Hummingbird and Mary is holding a Rufous.

this is a female Rufous Hummingbird that the Freds caught in my yard. Unfortunately we didn't get to hold her as my wife and I were getting married the day he came to catch her!

The Rufous Hummingbird is typically the most common wintering hummingbird in Tallahassee each year. Most of the birds reported are immatures but every once in a while Fred will catch an adult male...truly one of the world's most beautiful birds!

I took this picture of a male Rufous in Arizona

Each winter several different species are captured by Fred. Last winter he caught and banded 5 species in Tallahassee; Rufous, Black-chinned, Ruby-throated, Calliope and Buff-bellied. Most of our wintering birds arrive in November but some come earlier and some arrive later.

To mark the impending arrival of our wintering hummingbirds Fred Bassett will be entertaining us with a hummingbird talk on Thursday, October 25 at 7pm. His talk is immensely popular, some of us have actually attended it several times!

Fred also posts a hummingbird news update letting us know what hummers he has been catching and any other Hummingbird Study Group news. With his kind permission we will be publishing his posts on our blog from now on.

Here is Fred's latest post...he writes...

Fellow Hummer Lovers...

In my first update, I suggested you might have a Rufous mixed in with your Ruby-throated Hummers. They really have been there. I had reports and pictures of adult male Rufous Hummers in Crawfordville, Pensacola, and Walnut Hill, Florida. Unfortunately all were "one day" wonders and gone before I could go band them. But I've had better luck with female Rufous. On Friday, 28 September in Niceville, FL I caught a fith year return female Rufous at MaryAnn Friedman's home and then went to Enterprise, AL where I caught my first ever sixth year return Rufous at the home of Ike and Beth Behar. Ike's comment was that he would have never believed what would happen when I banded that immature Rufous hummer in his yard so many years ago. Last winter both of those hummers beat me like a drum and required multiple trips to catch. This time both went in my trap pretty quickly. It is still better to be lucky than good.

Friday afternoon I got lucky again and banded a pure albino immature female Ruby-throated Hummer on Lake Martin north of Montgomery, AL. You've missed a real treat if you haven't seen a white hummer. I'll try to post a link to pictures in my next update.

We open at Fort Morgan next Saturday, 6 October and will be there until 19 October. Come visit if you can.

Send more Hummers,


As Fred says the Hummingbird Study Group will be banding migrant birds at their Fort Morgan Banding Station between October 6-19. More information can be found on their website linked below.

Don't miss out on Fred's talk...October 25, 7pm at the Wild Birds Unlimited store.

If you have a wintering hummingbird in your yard this winter contact Fred so he can come visit you and band it. Fred can be contacted as follows...

by telephone: 334-244-0227

we would also love to include a picture of you holding your wintering hummingbird on our blog. So let us know if you would like us to do that.


Glenda Simmons sent us a bunch of hummingbird pictures from her experiences with the Freds banding exploits. Enjoy!

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