The 2023-24 Winter Hummingbird season will conclud on March 15th.  So far it has been a slower than normal season for winter hummingbirds in our permitted areas.  We had a total of 9 sightings and were able to get 6 of those individuals banded.  At this point we hypothesize that the continuing severe drought and fires out West are impacting all species including hummingbirds.  We received reports from our western colleagues of many failed nests, and the early departure of many adults.  Time will tell if this trend will continue.  We’ll be watching closely.

The 3 sightings of the hummers that went ‘unbanded’ took place in Columbia, Germantown and Millington, Tennessee.  All 3 of these birds were either one-day wonders or left before arrangements could be made to travel and band them.  But thanks to photography we have their presence documented.

We were however able to band 6 winter hummers of three different species in 3 different states this season.  In Tennessee we had an adult female Rufous in Madisonville, a very late juvenile female Ruby-throat in Clarksville and a SY male, Black-chinned hummingbird in Germantown.  In Mississippi we banded a juvenile male Rufous and a juvenile male, Black-chinned hummer on the same day in Jackson.  And finally, we banded a young female Rufous in Murray, Kentucky in early December.

Of note was our adventure in Germantown at the home of TOS member, Sarita Joshi where we banded the SY male Black-chinned.  We visited her yard on January 6th and as the snow and ice began to set it a few days later, Sarita sent me a picture of a SECOND winter hummingbird which we confirmed was a female Selasphorus hummingbird, most likely rufous.  Unfortunately, that bird was only seen and photographed on one day and weather conditions prohibited us form traveling back down there.  But thanks to Sarita’s quick camera skills, we have pictures of both the rufous and the black-chinned hummingbirds feeding on the same feeder!  Truly an exciting and first time happening for SEAR!

Please keep watching those feeders as migrants begin moving back to their breeding grounds. And as always, many thanks to everyone who maintained a feeder all winter and for those hosts who called and allowed us to come band their special guests.  We couldn’t conduct our research without you.


Cyndi Routledge