Monday, August 25, 2014

Hummingbird Burrito

"Hummingbird Burrito" 
Judy Royal Glenn  

I went to the Smith-Gilbert Gardens In Kennesaw, Georgia Saturday to observe hummingbirds being banned.  I was excited about the day and left Athens about 6:15 am to arrive at the garden by 8:00.  The roads were already packed with people walking to the garden, and cars were lined up along the road until the gates were open.  

(Note the one red and one rare green gorget feather on the hummingbird's throat.)

The little Ruby-throated hummingbirds are captured by an enclosure that surrounds a feeder, and once the hummingbirds enter the enclosure, the trap door is pulled shut.  They are then brought to the person banding the hummingbird.  The lady banding the hummingbirds is named Julia a.k.a. the "Hummingbird Whisperer."  There are only around 100 people in the United States that are trained to band them.

She carefully places the hummingbird in a women's footy that is used in stores to try on shoes and places a tiny band on the hummingbird's ankle.  Five numbers are stamped on the band.  It does not hurt the hummingbird and is not heavy. The band gives important information to researchers concerning migration, life-span and survival rate, success in reproduction and population, and other helpful knowledge conceding birds.  

 A lot of information about the hummingbird in hand is retrieved.  The hummingbird is weighed, it's sex and age are determined, and other measurements.  Here in this photo Julia is observing the hummingbird's bill to see the amount of fine etchings or corrugations on its bill. Younger hummingbirds  have corrugations on its upper bill which begin to smooth out starting at the tip of the bill.  Usually, the upper part of the bill will be completely smooth after 4-6 months.  Some adults keep as much as 10% of the etchings at the base of it's bill.  A bander looks at the bill to help determine the hummingbird's age. 

 Hummingbirds are super small and weigh a little more than a penny.  The females are 15-25 bigger than the males.  Their overall length from the tip of its tail to the tip of its bill ranges from about 70mm (2.76) inches to about 90mm (3.54) in females.

The "Hummingbird Whisper", Julia, holds up the tiny hummingbird to show the anxious crowds awaiting at a glance of the tiny wonders.


  1. Delightful. This gives a glimpse to the tiny delicate size of the hummingbirds too.

  2. They are so small and look fragile. I'm amazed that she can hold them and not hurt them. The band must be very small and I'm sure it takes skill to get it on their tiny legs.

  3. They are amazing creatures God made, and I enjoy them greatly. The bands were very tiny. The bander said it is like us wearing a watch:)


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