|Male Rufous Hummingbird|
Thanks to Rick Wiltraut, I was able to capture the adult male rufous hummingbird coming to a feeder at Jacobsburg State Park this afternoon. The bird was already banded - and it wasn't one of the bands that I or my subs (Sandy Lockerman and Ember Jandebeur) use. A foreign recovery of a hummingbird is a first for me in 10 years and several thousand hummingbirds, so I'm pretty psyched. Despite missing some feathers from the back right side of his head (somewhere there's a hungry but unlucky sharp-shinned hawk), the bird was in good shape, and it was my pleasure to release it from the palm of Rick's lovely mother, who was there for the fun.
I just reported the band to the Bird Banding Lab's website, something I do dozens of times a year for saw-whet owls but rarely with such anticipation. Unfortunately, the BBL does not have any information on the bird, meaning that the original bander hasn't yet reported the banding. That tells me he was probably only banded in the past couple of months.
I'm also going to report the band number to the hummingbird banding listserve, which most of the hummer banders belong to - hopefully the bander will get in touch with me about it, and we'll figure out where this little guy came from.
The story continues:
I just learned that the rufous hummer reported by Rick Wiltraut, and which I caught today at Jacobsburg State Park in Northampton County, was banded Jan. 9, 2011 in River Ridge, Louisiana by famed hummingbird bander Nancy Newfield. Although he's now in full adult plumage, he was an immature male at the time, so we know he was born in the summer of 2010, and is on his second migration.
Nancy is the one who really started banding and studying these western vagrant hummingbirds back in the 1970s, and she's been a friend and colleague since I got into hummer-banding in 2001. To catch one of Nan's birds up here is a particular treat.
My guess is this male spent the summer on his breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies or Alaska, and is on his way back to the Gulf region, taking this circuitous eastern route that more and more of them appear to be using. Nancy said she caught him last winter in one of her best yards (some of these properties get nine or 10 western hummers of several species), and I hope he checks in with her when he arrives back in Lousee-anna.
Posted with permission from Scott Weidensaul.