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Banders at Work

net with capturing hummingbirds for banding
Photo: Patricia Nethercote, Costa Rica

I have corresponded with an educator-naturalist who studies the migration pattern of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds while they are here in Costa Rica. He leads a group of birders (his "team") who are interested in helping collect and add to the research data of these birds.

After humanely capturing the birds (photo above), the bander weighs and measures each one. Team members record the information. Then the bander places a tiny band on the bird's tiny leg. The band carries this birds information, such as sex, weight, and fat content. Usually only the licensed bird banders are permitted to handle the hummers.

If the bird has already been banded at another time or place, the data show what regions they have been to prior to migrating. This data is available to licensed banders in both Canada and the USA. Banders collaborate with previously recorded data. We are learning more about hummingbirds on their wintering grounds—but there's always more to learn!

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