Recent Happenings2021-10-20T13:41:16-05:00

Winter Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbird


1810, 2019


With 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 [...]

2111, 2019

Winter hummingbird season has begun…

Winter hummingbird season has begun with a bang! Our first hummer of the 'winter' season was a find on Facebook.  The host had posted pictures of her bird and lucky for us we saw the post and asked to come out and band the hummer.  Even more lucky was that the bird was located in our hometown! We banded Petra's hatch-year male Ruby-throat on the 8th of November.  Within days an arctic blast hit the south but the host had hung a brooder light and this hummer spent his day perched near the warmth of the light. Our second hummer call came in about a week later.  This bird was in Thompson Station in Williamson County. Longtime hummingbird enthusiast Sharon was excited to have us come and ID her winter visitor and so on a frosty November 16th morning we captured, banded and released a very nice hatch-year male Rufous hummingbird.  He too was enjoying the warmth of a feeder wrapped in Christmas lights. On November 17th we set off for Cordova, TN to band our 3rd reported bird of the season at the home of Lori and Paul.  She had contacted me after being advised to so by Tennessee Ornithological member, Martha Waldron.  And so on a 32 degree Sunday morning in Cordova we banded an adult female Ruby-throated hummingbird.  She too is being fed well as her fat score [...]

2701, 2020

New “No Red Nectar” t-shirt fundraiser in the making…

Our "No Red Dye" t-shirt campaign was such a success that we will be repeating one this spring... We will be tweaking the hummingbird a bit and changing the wording to say "NO RED NECTAR" stay tuned for details and information about how you can get yours!!

2605, 2020

Feeding hummingbirds

We all love hummingbirds!  These tiny little flying jewels zip around our yards and gardens in summer, slowing down ever so briefly to sip some nectar from a flower or from our feeders.  Their popularity has grown over the years and in 2019 it was estimated by Science Daily that 57 million households actively feed backyard birds including hummingbirds. Hummingbirds have one of the biggest brains in the avian world proportionally to its size.  They remember a reliable food source from year to year which is why it’s important to be responsible hosts and follow these simple steps for the safe and healthy way to feed hummingbirds. We feed hummingbirds because we love them and enjoy them. With that comes the responsibility to do it right. Place feeders where hummers can easily find them near flowering plants in your yard or on your patio or deck.  Position feeders where you can enjoy watching the hummingbirds feed and where you can monitor the quality and quantity of the nectar. Clear nectar and clean feeders are essential.  A good rule of thumb is that when air temperatures get above 75 degrees you clean them every 2-3 days or more often, if necessary, when temps reach 100 degrees in August.  Cloudy nectar and black mold have the potential of harming your hummingbirds.  You wouldn’t feed your dog or cat spoiled food in a dirty [...]

1907, 2020

Mexican Violetear

Late last week a series of serendipitous events occurred that ended in the capture and banding of a Mexican Violetear by yours truly.  Formally known as the Green Violetear, this medium-sized hummingbird, whose home territory is Mexico to Nicaragua somehow made it's way to Montgomery County, Tennessee, was noticed by the homeowner and ultimately SEAR was contacted. It was the 2nd verifiable sighting in Tennessee.  The other occurring in Memphis in September of 2007. It is the 6th banding record for this species in the United States according to the Bird Banding Laboratory. It's appearance has created quite the stir in the birding community.  Typically these tropical hummingbird don't stick around too long and true to fashion this ‘one-day wonder’, as they're known in birding and banding circles,  departed later that same morning. So keep watching those feeders...migration has begun and you never know what might show up!!  And naturally, if you see something 'different' please give me let me know.

Ruskin Cave Hummingbird Helper

Will She Return?

Female Rufous Hummingbird, (Selasphorus rufus), dubbed “Frosty” did not return for her 4th winter.

Unfortunately Frosty did not return for her 4th year.  But her hosts were honored she spent 3 winters with them and they continue to watch for a ‘new’ winter visitor!

Photo by Graham Gerdeman

Photo by Graham Gerdeman

SEAR Accomplishments

  • SEAR hosted banding training efforts during the winter, spring and fall migration seasons.

  • SEAR participated in 7 hummingbird festivals in 2019.  Check ‘Events’ to find out where we’ll be in 2020.

  • Our Eastern Screech Owl study at Cross Creeks NWR continues.  We banded our first group of 3 nestlings in May 2018 and hope to find them living and breeding on the refuge in the years to come.

  • In June 2018-2019, SEAR participated in Earth Camp sponsored by the Friends of Cross Creeks.  We will continue to participate in this great outdoor activity for local children.

  • SEAR is once again a ‘gold’ sponsor for the Wings of Winter Birding Festival to be held in January of 2020.  This status is from ‘in-kind’ volunteer hours.

  • SEAR presented 8 educational programs in 2019 in and around middle TN.  If you’re interested in one of our presentation contact us.

  • SEAR assisted and participated in the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge “Festival of Cranes” for the 5th  year. And have been invited back for the 2020 event.

  • SEAR coordinated and ran the banding efforts at Strawberry Plains 20th Anniversary Hummer and Nature Festival.  It was our 5th year and we’ve been invited back for the 2020 celebration.

  • SEAR banded 2022 RTHU at hummer host homes in Montgomery and Stewart Counties during the 2019 season. Recap rates averaged about 28% for birds caught for the second, third and fourth years in a row at the same location.

  • SEAR leader Cyndi Routledge and TWRA biologist Polly Rooker continue to instruct the avian classes of the Tennessee Naturalist Program at Owl’s Hill each April.

  • SEAR has been invited back to the University School of Nashville in March of 2020.

  • SEAR continues to work under contract with TWRA to color band and monitor the Loggerhead Shrike population in TN.  We banded our second group of nestlings this year, did a 6 County sweep in search of LOSH and participated in the annual Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Working Group conference.  Sear developed and monitors a listserv for members of the group.

  • In November SEAR will begin year three of our Northern Saw-whet Owl Study in conjunction with the long running OwlNet Research Program. Last year we caught, banded and released one owl.  We’re hoping for a few more this year.

  • For the 4rd year SEAR is participating in 3 separate studies with University of California at Davis Vet School under the direction of Dr. Lisa Tell.  We are proud to be apart of these ongoing studies.

  • SEAR continues to work on the RTHU nesting study being conducted by Dr. David Pitts.  We hope to continue to participate in year 10 of this study.

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