Ruby-throated-Hummingbird-photo-by-Teresa-GemeinhardtWith the last of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds winging their way southward and all records turned in to the banding lab it seemed like a good time to take a minute to update you as we wrap up another hummingbird migration banding season.

The season started pretty much on time with hummingbirds arriving in early April here in Tennessee however as the spring and summer progressed it was anything but ‘normal’. Reports of hummingbird numbers were all over the place. Folks who normally have gobs of birds reported less and those who usually don’t have many reported more.  Bottom line my overall capture rate was down between 15%-18% and my recapture rate down about 5%-8% depending on location.  So why? Could it be just the natural ebb and flow in nature??  Could it be weather related?  I have a personal hypothesis that perhaps Hurricane Harvey took a bigger toll on those hummingbirds who took the land route south last year.  Not the storm itself, as birds are supreme at getting out of the way of ‘bad’ weather, but after the storm when they continued to migrate and found no habitat and little food left in those areas hardest hit by the storm many just couldn’t make it and succumbed.  However, as I’ve told many of you, it’s just too soon to truly know.   We also saw a few hummingbirds this year with weird plumages, had more leucistic hummingbird reports than ever and saw a few other genetic and non-genetic oddities. But over all I’m happy to report the population was for the most part healthy and hearty.

SEAR did band 2022 hummingbirds so far in 2019.  Which includes 1 Rufous hummingbird banded at the home of Mr. Larry Force in Southhaven, MS in February of this year.  We also reached another milestone…having banded 7102 hummingbirds since spring of 2015!  We also enjoyed welcoming back a few 3rd & 4th year return hummingbirds this year.  Always a special treat!  If only they could talk and tell us about their travels…what a tale they’d have to tell.

No Red DyeSEAR also held our first every “No Red Dye” campaign selling t-shirts to not only raise funds but raise awareness about the dangers of using red dye when feeding hummingbirds.  I’m happy to report we sold 103 shirts and raised over $1800 during the 4-week campaign.  Many thanks to each of you for your support of this project.

We also added another Festival to our yearly calendar, making 7 summer hummingbird and nature festivals we now participate in, and traveled to Moss Point, Mississippi for the inaugural Hummingbird Festival at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.  Like all our festivals and events this year we educated hundreds of folks, enjoyed sharing our knowledge with their guests and look forward to returning next year.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank my hands-on volunteers and hummer hosts for their support and assistance this season.  I could not do what I do without them. They make it possible by generously allowing SEAR to come to their homes, by giving of their time, their efforts and their support!

So, here’s to next migration season!  Onward to winter hummingbirds!


Cyndi Routledge