Facts About Hummingbird Tracking and Banding

Low Banded Hummingbird Number Researchers know less about hummingbirds than songbirds since banding began long after songbirds.

The North American Bird Banding Program of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service has tracked 309,000 ruby-throated hummingbirds since 1960. In contrast, over 30 million songbirds are banded.

Tracking Hummingbirds Helps Migration Research Most of what we know about hummingbird migration comes from tracking and banding. Amazing things have been learned from scientists' data.  

We know ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate the same way every year. They reach and depart stopover spots within a few days on virtually the same date each year.

Hummingbirds are unharmed by banding. Caged or curtained hummingbird feeders are monitored, and when a bird visits, a switch lowers the nets or cages. Hummingbirds are captured better with this than with big mist nets used in songbird banding.

Hummingbird Bands Are Incredible Small Hummingbird leg bands are so little they fit around a toothpick or safety pin. They average 1.27-1.52 mm in diameter and 1.6 mm broad.

Each band has a letter prefix and four-digit number. The letter symbolizes a five-digit number too large for the little band.

You Can Report and Track Rare Hummingbirds Banders may be interested in a rare or wintering hummingbird in your backyard. You can help researchers understand why Western hummingbirds are appearing in the East by notifying banders.

Hummingbird Banders Are Specialists A only 150 Americans are authorized to band hummingbirds. They can join the program after rigorous training. Hummingbird bands are cut and sized by banders, unlike other bird bands. A code of ethics applies to banders.

Fast Hummingbird Banding Banders don't keep hummingbirds long. Banders quickly record species, sex, age, weight, dimensions, and bird condition. Banders occasionally give the birds a sugar-water drink at a feeder before releasing them.