Recent Happenings2021-10-20T13:41:16-06:00

Winter Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbird

SEAR Blog

2309, 2020

End of another successful season to spite COVID

Hummingbird season here in Tennessee is slowly coming to an end.  Frantic feeding frenzies are beginning to slow down and numbers are dwindling as Ruby-throated hummingbirds wing their way southward.  We had a most successful banding season to spite COVID, social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  Our ever faithful small group of volunteers became my 'bubble people' and enabled SEAR to continue our research.  Many THANKS to Mitz and LoraAnn Bailey, Ski Witzosky and Blue Bastin for their hard work this season.  I couldn't have done it without you all. With all banding records now safely turned into the BBL we can report that we banded 2214 ruby-throated hummingbirds in 2020 and we visited 22 hummer host sites.  Some just once, others multiple times. My sincere thanks to everyone who opened up their home and shared their hummingbirds with us. We enjoy our time with you and thank you for maintaining your feeders and inviting the birds and us into your yards.  We missed some 'key' locations due to limited travel due to COVID but with a bit of luck we'll pick those back up next season. All 7 of our Hummingbird Festivals were also cancelled this summer.  We did one virtual festival at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge that reaped 15,000 'hits' and we contributed to the virtual event held by Warner Park Nature Center.  I also did 2 Zoom hummingbird programs [...]

2809, 2020

BIG NEWS from Williamson County, Tennessee…a male Rufous Hummingbird banded there on 11/16/2019 by SEAR has returned!

A text message on September 19, 2020 brought the news that the Rufous Hummingbird that was banded on 11/16/2019 had possibly returned to the same yard in Williamson County, TN.  It took a couple days for the host to get a 'glimpse' of the silver band...and this weekend we recaptured the hummingbird and confirmed that indeed this handsome adult male Rufous was indeed the bird we banded in 2019 as a hatch-year hummingbird. This feisty fellow spent the entire winter at this host home this past winter, departing some time near the end of March to return to its breeding ground to defend a territory and breed. Rufous hummingbirds breed farther north than any other hummingbird and travel incredible distances each year between their summer breeding grounds and winter homes.  They are also the #1 western hummingbird found in Tennessee and the Southeast each winter.  In fact there's currently another adult male at a home in East Tn.  That bird has returned for 4 'winter' seasons. I encourage you to consider leaving out a feeder all year.  Place it where you look first thing in the morning or last thing before dark.  "Winter' hummingbirds will look for quick energy food first thing off the roost in the morning and last thing before heading roost at night so it's your 'best' chance of seeing one...if there's one in your yard.  It is [...]

1010, 2020

2020 Ruby-throated Hummingbird banding season Wrap-up…

It’s hard to believe that we’re in mid-October already.  Ruby-throated hummingbird migration banding season ended for the most part on September 29th with the banding of 5 very FAT birds including the fattest I’ve ever banded…a hatch-year female that weighed 6.20 grams!  As of today, I still have at least one ruby-throat in my yard and a few of you report you have one or two as well.  I suspect they’ll all be gone on the next good north wind. The season was not without challenges due to the Pandemic and we missed visiting a few of our ‘higher’ volume locations due to travel and overnight stays.  Hummingbird numbers at feeders we visited were up and down with no real explanation but were just glad to be able to do some banding.  We had a great surprise with the banding of the Mexican Violetear in Clarksville in July.  You can check out my blog posts for pictures of that bird as well as other news that might be of interest.  https://southeasternavianresearch.org/sear-blog-updates/ When this season began, I truly had no expectations.  My hope was to visit a few host homes and conduct a bit of research while keeping the safety of ‘us humans’ front and center.  Thanks to my ‘bubble volunteers’, Mitz and LoraAnn Bailey, Ski Witzosky, Jackie Bastin and Steve Routledge we were able to accomplish that and so much more. [...]

2011, 2020

Winter Hummingbird season off to a GREAT start

The 2020 Winter Hummingbird season is off to a terrific start in both Tennessee and Mississippi with multiple sightings and banding sessions. From the return male Rufous in Williamson County to a very late Ruby-throated hummingbird in Davidson County just yesterday I've been busy 'running the roads' and banding these fascinating winter hummers. Sunday, November 22nd found me in Haywood County at the home of long-time Tennessee Ornithology Society member and editor of The Migrant, the Club's pier reviewed publication where we banded an adult female rufous hummingbird.  (Pictured here).  It was good to see old friends and celebrate this bird with them. Please continue to keep your feeders clean, partially full of fresh nectar and watch for a winter visitor in your yard.  You just never know what might show up!

3011, 2020

Busy week for winter birds in the southeast

It was a busy Thanksgiving week for SEAR.  We had multiple reports of winter hummingbirds that culminated in the banding of a juvenile male Allen's Hummingbird in Rutherford County, the second Allen's in Tennessee this November and the 10th banding record overall.  Followed quickly by the banding of a juvenile male Rufous Hummingbird in Ecru, Mississippi. The weekend ended with a most exciting report and pictures of a juvenile male Anna's Hummingbird in Bledsoe County.  Unfortunately this hummingbird only stopped at the feeder for a couple hours and by the time we got there the bird hadn't been seen for a few hours.  The last time there was an Anna's Hummingbird in Tennessee was January 6, 1995 and that bird was banded by the late Bob Sargent.  You win some and you lose some...but it's all about taking the chance when the opportunity presents itself. Keep watching those feeders as you never know what might show up!!  

2912, 2020

Allen’s Hummingbird Re-encounter

Exciting news was received on 12/28/20 when veteran bander and colleague Fred Bassett called me to report he had recaptured a hatch-year male Allen's Hummingbird wearing one of my bands at a host home on Mobile Bay, Alabama! Turns out I had banded this very Allen's hummingbird at the home of Mary Goodenough in Fayetteville, TN on December 8, 2020. A quick call to Mary Goodenough, confirmed that said Allen's Hummingbird was spotted and subsequently photographed in her yard in Fayetteville, TN on September 29, 2020 and was there for 10 weeks, departing sometime during the day on December 9, 2020 as that was the last day Mary saw him. The distance between the two points - Fayetteville and Mobile Bay - is approximately 417 miles almost directly south. We'll never truly know the 'exact' route, or just how long it took the Allen's to get to Mobile.  What we do know is that his Alabama host first noticed him on Christmas Day and 3 days later Fred Bassett captured him and discovered his band. We will continue to monitor him in Mobile to see just how long he stays at his 'beach' home before leaving to return to his breeding ground along a narrow strip on the Pacific coast from Oregon to California.

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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