We've been backyard birders forever (plus or minus a few years), and we've only ever seen or noticed one banded bird here... a Chipping Sparrow. But our photos of it only clearly showed the band, not the numbers or designations.
So this year our dominant male Ruby-throat (we call him Buzz)... has an obvious band, and we've been trying mightily to capture photos of him which would reveal the numbers:
Looks like ...4871... maybe.
Can anyone here tell us anything about this band? How many numbers likely are there? And if we're able to document the number accurately, should we report it, and to whom?
We're very curious about this and would appreciate any info anyone could give us.
Yep, that is a band alright. I would be just as excited as you are! The band will have a letter followed by 5 digits. You have a good chance of being able to read the entire band photographically. Report it online tohttp://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/. You will have to have the entire number to make a meaningful report.
The Bird Banding Laboratory web site will give you some sketchy information about the location where the banding took place and when it was banded. If the data from the banding has not yet reached the BBL, they will contact the bander and request that he or she send the info promptly.
You might want to contact your local bander Lanny Chambers . He might be able to come out to catch the bird so that the band can be read more expeditiously and Lanny can give the bander a report on the bird's general health and well-being.
Ordinarily, when I catch a banded bird, I post the full number on the private listserv humband. Sometimes I will get a phone call back while I am still at the site. Other times, it may be several days.
I hope you will be able to find out more. This can be like finding a note in a bottle on the beach! Last winter, I caught several hummers that had been banded in distant locales - Georgia, Florida, and a couple of my banded birds were caught as well. One was in Pennsylvania and another was in Florida.
When you find out any info, please e-mail me privately so I will know all the details. I am going out of town tomorrow and will be more or less incommunicado for the next couple of weeks.
I hope you are able to get the rest of the numbers to find out more info on your Buzz. I giggled upon seeing what you named him as I gave the same name to a dominant, always around male last year. Your pictures of him are fantastic. I love seeing all of the iridescents in their feathers. One handsome guy that is for sure!
I suggest you shoot video of the hummer and then you can go frame by frame and maybe get the one letter and 5 digits. We did this with a Rufous that visited Kentucky and found it was banded in Louisanna two years before we saw it. As Nancy suggested getting a bander to capture the bird and then you can record the number by photos or video to document it. They will not just take your word.
Actually, they will take your word for it if you are sure of the letter and numerical sequence. A couple of years ago, one of mine showed up in Dave Patton's yard in Lafayette. Dave is a bander, but he recognized the color-mark and left leg band as mine and he didn't want to handle the bird because it was a Buff-bellied, which often become very trap shy after being handled a couple of times, so he took a series of images and got it cold. The bird later returned to the original site, where we caught her again. She also returned for the next season and was caught twice then too. Not trap shy, this gal.
On the other hand, you do want to be sure the numbers are correct and in the correct order. Looking at the images, I am sure of the '4871' so you are more than halfway there. Last year, a bander out west reported one of my numbers, but when I looked up the data, the species he gave was wrong. Re-checking my data, I am convinced that the band was read incorrectly and my bird was never in his hands.
To add to Nancy's comments: she's away for several days, but if you DO get the rest of the band number - or the letter and the first few digits - I can check to see if it's one of Nancy's.
What intrigues me most is that the bird is banded on the left leg; as far as I know, the majority of banders band on the right leg, although Nancy, and some of the people she's trained, band on the left. There's no rule about which leg to use, so it's mostly a matter of how the individual bander holds the birds while applying the band.
I think my name is "clickable" for my email address, if it's needed.
Thanks very much to all who replied...we really appreciate the great info and comments.
We both shoot everyday and there are nearly always shots of Buzz amongst the images taken. We'll be carefully reviewing each and every one we get of him, and with any luck we will get that whole band number.
I'll contact all who've requested it, and also report back to this thread as soon as we have useful additional info.
The first two characters definitely look like "L2" to me. (The "L" is obvious, and I can see the "curve" at the top of the "2".)
The "48" and "71" noted earlier also look right - my only question is the sequence. It's hard for me to see whether the 48 comes before the 71, as you think (and that does look more likely), or if the 71 might come before the 48.
If you have any other shots that straddle these segments that you could share, either here or privately, that would make it more clear. With Nancy out of the country, I can do a preliminary inquiry on the private list for the banders to see if anyone can place the number.
Well, we need to keep trying - the number we thought it might be, definitely isn't this bird - it was used on another species entirely. We may have the sequence or one or more digits incorrect.
So Kenn, if you have any more pictures of the band, even if the pictures themselves aren't stunning, we might be able to piece it together. Either post or emailing them to me is fine - I'd love to see this solved!
I can't look up any individual band numbers other than those issued to Nancy. Otherwise, the band number has to be reported (as when we catch a 'foreign' bird), and since we're not sure of the band number, I can't actually report it yet.
What I did with the previous "best guess" was put out a request to the bander community for the person issued that band to contact me. She did, and it was clear from her records that we didn't have a match.
I don't want to clutter up the banders' list with too many semi-random guesses - especially if we have a shot at more pictures that could narrow it down more. But I'm also blowing up the band in each shot, trying to see if I can make out any more of what's there. It could indeed be an L4, but blown up it still looks like L2 to me. But then, you know my eyes....
Currently the first 7 photos are of Buzz and show the band to one degree or another. A few of these also reveal some of the band number. Any new shots will be added to the top of this gallery as we get them. And any significantly new views of the band numbers will be added to this thread also.
L48718 is a definite possibility - I'd like to see the "718" sequence to be sure before asking the bander network, once those pictures are posted, but we know "48" and "18" are definites, now. If 718 is confirmed, that would pretty much confirm the number y'all have put together.
Ok, thanks everybody... here is the best (clearest) view amongst the "718" series Temple captured this morning:
Perhaps not definitive... but it sure could be 718, and L48718 seems a good beta candidate to me. I'd still love to see a 8L view myself... Does anybody know if/how much space there would be between the last number and the beginning alpha?
Anyway, Kevin if you think we've got it... another request to the banders would be greatly appreciated. And in the meantime, we'll keep shootin'.
Kenn - the space between the end of the band number and the beginning of it again (where the two ends meet) depends to some degree on how the band is cut and for what species. Bands come printed on a sheet of aluminum, 300 to a sheet (in 3 groups of 100; each group has ten rows of ten bands). Each band, in turn, has three very short "sections" that can be trimmed off and/or partially filed down to adjust the size of the band, as different species take different sizes.
Ruby-throats take one of the smallest sizes, so there is usually not much of an extra "space" between the last digit and the preliminary letter.
I agree this looks like 718 - and in addition, both in this shot and the "18" shot, it looks like the seam between the band ends comes after the 18. So let's see what this number turns up.
Well we have a happy ending... if not an exotic one. Thanks to all those who helped and encouraged us, especially those actively assisting with determining the proper band number sequence from the photos.
Special thanks to Kevin for contacting Lanny Chambers, who then contacted us this morning and confirmed his banding of a hatch-year male Ruby-throat in July of last year, with the band number L48718. So this evening Lanny and his wife Linda came to the house, and Lanny caught Buzz within about 15-20 minutes after setting up. This was of course Lanny and Buzz's second meeting, as the number was visually verified and recorded in Lanny's records.
Here are some record photos of the event:
We also have 2 slow-motion videos btw which I'm uploading to our smugmug site now. But I will try to edit them together in a more concise clip and post a link here as soon as time allows. Lanny places Buzz in Temple's hand where he spent nearly 2 minutes regaining his composure... and then rolls and roars away.
Lanny also captured another (un-banded) male shortly after Buzz was released, and that bird is now also banded. We also shot slo-mo video of that bird's release from my own hand.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the thread. And a special thanks to Lanny & Linda Chambers. They handled our birds with complete professionalism and tender skill. And btw, they live about a quarter of a mile from us in an adjacent subdivision... so Buzz is a local boy.
Kenn and Temple and Lanny too. Great job. Now knowing that Buzz is a local boy banded last July do you have any thoughts of going through last years photos of any juvies and see if a band is hiding where it wasn't seen before?
Might be a good off season project. You may have already had pics of him and not even known it.
Kenn and Temple
What an awsome outcome! That is pretty cool that Lanny was able to catch him twice now to update the original data and how cool that Lanny lives so close to you. Looking forward to the video when time permits
USDA hardiness zone 6a
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
What a wonderful story and how fun to see photos of Lanny on The Hummingbird Forum. We met Lanny and Linda several years ago and they are great people. I guess this once again confirms that our Ruby-throats do return to the same locations year after year.
Kathi and Michael Rock
Thanks a lot everyone. Buzz's band has been a great adventure for us and we're very happy to have shared in the fun with everybody here. We couldn't have done this without the encouragement and support from this forum.
This has been a great thread to watch. I am glad that you were successful in identifying "Buzz". I had thought that the males were more of roamers than this. It seems that they should be in order to have some genetic diversity. But, what do I know. I am still learning.
Penny, I too think that Lanny looks very similar to Sean Connery. It is funny because I was thinking just that and then I got to your post. I am sure that he gets many people stating so. I bet that Lanny was glad to meet his banded bird. Does he recapture many returning males?
This is such a fantastic thread and amazing story! Great detective work and sharing on the forum - we are so lucky to have such great folks here! Wonderful ending. Thanks for sharing the videos. This sure brightened my still hummerless morning...soon.... I hope the little ones will be here.
I have not seen a banding myself but from the photos I have seen and the information shared here by Nancy, Kevin, Joan and others I believe that a special net is set up around a feeder and when the bird flies into the feeder the net closes enabling the bander to safely remove the bird.
USDA hardiness zone 6a
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
There are actually a couple of different ways hummingbirds can be captured for banding.
In some areas, mist netting is the primary method. Mist nets are very, very fine nets (sort of like a giant hair net) that are stretched across an area tethered to poles. They are almost invisible to flying creatures like birds, so anything flying across the net's surface is snagged. This is the primary method used for catching birds other than hummingbirds (and, of course, it requires permits to own or use these nets).
Because they catch everything, people who concentrate on (or who only band) hummingbirds more often use traps with feeders in inside. There are a variety of designs, but they all work essentially the same way: when a bird comes in and is using the feeder inside, the trap is closed, and then the bird is carefully removed for handling.
At our regular winter banding sites, we try to outfit our hosts with "dummy" traps - cages that have an open side, for instance - which acclimates birds to using the feeders in the traps. Even a day or two of having the dummy traps in place can make it much, much easier to catch the birds.