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 to round out the season.
It was a great winter season, but there’s still much to learn about these winter hummingbirds and it’s our hosts who make it possible by allowing us access and hosting these amazing birds.
It’s with much appreciation and thanks to all those amazing hosts for their dedication to these hummingbirds!! From providing clean feeders and fresh nectar for months, to providing heated-feeders or warming lights, to changing out nectar two and three times a day during February’s arctic blast of cold, snow and ice. Thanks as well to all those who left out a feeder hoping this would ‘be the year’ you had winter visitor. Perhaps next year?? You just never know where one of these winter beauties will show up?
Here’s to a great breeding hummingbird season for everyone! Be well, stay safe and enjoy those tiny little flying jewels!
And thanks to Graham Gerdeman for the lovely picture of the banded adult male Rufous Hummingbird currently being hosted by Sharon Temple in Thompson Station, TN.