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Does hummingbird banding hurt the birds?

Posted by Becca on August 11, 2015 at 12:05 AM

The number of banded hummers is low. Hummingbird banding started long after songbird banding, so researchers don’t have nearly as much information on the tiny fliers as they do on other birds. According to the North American Bird Banding Program operated by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service, about 309,000 ruby-throated hummingbirds have been banded since 1960. By comparison, more than 30 million songbirds have been banded.


Banding is a useful migration research tool. Most of what we do know about hummingbird migration is because of banding. The data scientists have gathered thus far tell us amazing things. For instance, we know that ruby-throated hummingbirds follow the same migration routes every year. They also arrive at and leave from stopover points on almost the same date each year, within a few days.


The process does not harm the birds. Hummingbird feeders equipped with curtains, netting or cages are monitored, and when a bird visits, it flips a switch and the netting comes down or the cage closes. This is a more effective method for capturing hummingbirds than the large mist nets usually used in songbird banding.




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