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Ruby-throats are returning from their wintering grounds! A few things to remember while you wait for yours to show up…

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are making their spring by day more and more are being seen and reported.  It's an exciting time for everyone!  We wait all winter for their return and like sand through an hour they come, slow but sure. In preparation for their arrival here are a few reminders: First, get those feeders out, dust them off, rinse them good and partially fill them with 1 part white table sugar to 4 parts water.  Boil if you won't drink your tap water or if you prefer to but MOST IMPORTANTLY - NO RED DYE. Hang one or two where you can view them.  Keep the nectar fresh and feeders clean while you wait.  Make note on a calendar when you see your first one...that way you'll know for next year. Male Ruby-throats will be the first to migrate in...they're NOT SCOUTS they're just the first migrants to find your feeders.  I'm not sure where the idea of a 'scout' originated, but I've never seen so many folks call these first hummers scouts in all the years I've been doing this.  By definition a 'scout is someone or thing that comes ahead, finds what they're looking for and returns to report what they've found to others.  Hummingbirds DO NOT do that nor do they report to any other hummingbird.  They are solo, selfish creatures who would like nothing more than to have that feeder all to itself.  Recall what you witnessed last fall...the fights, the jockeying for feeders.  That is the true nature of a hummingbird.  Some folks have told me they 'know all this' and only use the word 'scout' in reference to the 'first ones to show up'.  Okay, I get that...but to others the word 'scout' means just what the definition says it is...and that's spreading misinformation.  Will it harm the hummers?  No.  But why not use proper terms and each opportunity to teach someone who aren't familiar with hummingbird behavior the right ones? Also remember that the numbers you saw at your feeders late last summer and early fall are NOT the numbers you'll see this spring.  It [...]

The 2020-2021 Winter Hummingbird research season comes to an end…

Hummingbird spring migration is official underway, the first of the Ruby-throats are arriving on the coast and winter hummingbirds still present are getting ‘fat’ in preparation for their journey ‘home’.  With all this and the change of seasons, our winter hummingbird research for the 2020-2021 season comes to an end. It was a wild and crazy winter that actually began in July with the appearance of the Mexican Violetear in Clarksville, TN. Although not ‘winter’ the bird was clearly on a ‘migration’ journey. We had to wait 2 months for the next winter hummingbird call but that call came the last week of September with the news of a return Rufous hummingbird in Thompson Station.  We went out and lo and behold the hatch-year male we had banded back in November of 2019 was indeed back for a 2nd winter in all his 'big boy' glory. As we rolled into November the calls kept coming all the way through March 5, 2021 with the banding of a second-year male Broad-tailed hummingbird in central Mississippi. The juvenile Allen’s Hummingbird we banded at the home of Mary Goodenough in Fayetteville on December 8, 2020 didn’t want us to forget him. For after departing there 2 days post banding, he was recaptured on Mobile Bay by Master Bander Fred Bassett on December 26th.  He didn’t stick around there long but 6 weeks later was spotted again by the host, recaptured and confirmed to be the same Fayetteville hummingbird.  A first for SEAR, a first for an Allen’s Hummingbird in winter on the East coast. In total we banded 33 winter bird of 7 different species in TN and MS.  Between Master bander Emma Rhodes and I we banded 18 winter hummers in Mississippi.  In TN, I banded 15 different individuals.  We had 1 Mexican Violetear, 19 Rufous hummingbirds, 6 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, including 1 individual that was banded in February and confirmed still present on March 1, 2021, both firsts for a ruby-throat in TN as stated by the Bird Banding Lab. In addition we had 2 Calliopi Hummingbirds, 2 Allen’s Hummingbirds, 1 Black-chinned hummingbird and 2 Broad-tailed hummingbird [...]

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.

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!!  

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