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Banding a Vagrant Rufous in Alabama
Photography by Tracy Thomas, December 2011
Bird Banding by Mary Wilson
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
We first noticed this visiting hummingbird in early December. He was identified as an immature male rufous. We contacted the local Hummingbird-Study group with our news. A bird bander came and placed a birdcage over the feeder. He flew in for a drink and they captured him for banding.
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
He was gently placed in a mesh bag and brought inside. The bander worked quickly, but carefully with the little bird. These are the tools they will use to examine and band him.
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
He was taken out of the mesh bag and placed into a stocking foote for handling. One of these tiny tags will be his own identification number. His information will go into a national database. The band is gently clipped to his leg.
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
You can see the tiny band on his tiny leg. Now for the exam. Here she is
measuring wing and body length.
She also measured the length of his beak...
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
...and the length of his tail. Look how long his beak is! Next, she counted the number of grooves on his beak...
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
...and counted the number of brilliant orange feathers in his gorget. All this data is recorded. There are only a few orange feathers in his gorget, but when he is mature the entire gorget will be irridescent orange. Next, she examined his wing and tail feathers.
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
Spreading the tail out helps to see details. The bander uses a chart to learn more about the bird by looking at the feather details. His exam is over now and he's almost ready for release.
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
A little hummingbird nectar will give the little bird some energy to fly away.    
early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL early December, Alexander City, AL
  This little bird took his time before flying off. Notice his feather colors? We got a chance to take some good photos of his plumage (feathers).
early December, Alexander City, AL    

When he reaches maturity his entire back will be a rusty brownish color similar to his tail.

  -Special thanks to Jean Jackson.

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