Fred Bassett with the Hummer/Bird Study Group came to Tallahassee on Friday to check on reports from 21 homes with winter hummingbirds. We started at first light and by 7:20 had captured a 2nd year return male Rufous and banded a female Rufous at a home on Raa Avenue.
Up the street on Great Oak, we were faced with quite a challenge. The feeder was hanging on a thin mono-filament line, 30 feet up at a second story window. It seemed to be impossible to place the trap any where near the feeder and we almost gave up. I asked the host if she had an extension ladder and when she said yes, we went to work. We bungee corded the trap to the top of the ladder, placed the feeder inside, then like circus clowns, pushed up the ladder, rung by rung, until it reached the roof. The host must have thought we were real fools until 2 minutes later an adult male Rufous showed up and darted into the trap. Now we had to get the trap down which was more difficult than getting it up, but we did it without hurting the bird, the host or ourselves, a very memorable bird.
At the next home in San Luis Ridge, we had another outstanding find. Having been shut out there last year, we were finally able to catch a female Rufous. It was already banded and when Fred checked the band number, he found it had been banded there 4 years ago, making it a fifth year return, Tallahassee's second. It had avoided us for the last 3 years and was obviously keeping this yard to herself.
In Waverly Hills we caught a female Rufous and a female Ruby-throated. Out east of town off of Hill 'n Dale, which we found out only crosses Intersate 10 on Google maps, we caught a female Ruby-throated, then went to Killearn where we caught a female Rufous.
On Saturday at first light we caught a male Black-chinned at Andy and Julie Wraithmell's home near Governor's Square Mall. Fred then spoke to a standing room only crowd at Native Nurseries where he picked up 5 more homes that had hummingbirds. On Limbo Lane we caught a female Ruby-throated. Next we headed to John Armstrong's great hummer home in Indianhead Acres, where they complained that they had a bunch of Ruby-throateds this year but only a few Rufous - what a problem to have! After watching the hummer wars for several minutes, they settled down and at almost the same time we caught two male Ruby-throated hummers. I think that might be 5 so far this year. We also caught a male Rufous that had been banded a half mile away on Fred's previous trip. At that yard Fred had caught a Ruby-throated and put a pink mark on its head so it could be easily identified later on. Five minutes later we caught the male Rufous and when Fred looked at its bill, there was pink
paint from the Ruby-throated. These little birds are fiercely territorial!
On Harriman Circle we caught a female Rufous then went to a home off of Doomar and caught another female Rufous. Fred then headed to Gainesville to try and catch a hummer there before returning to Tallahassee to follow up on the rest of his reports.
At 1:00 Sunday we had another very interesting bird. In Westminster Oaks, we had an epic hour long battle with a female Rufous that turned out to have been banded last year on Everett Drive. When Fred called the previous host and told her, she said that the new host lived just two doors down the street. Amazingly, she HAD lived two doors down, but now was over 2 miles away! What are the odds of that? Next we went to another home in Killearn and caught a male and a female Ruby-throated to end a long day for Fred.
Early Monday morning we caught a female Rufous that had just showed up at my house the day before. It turned out to be a bird that was banded there 2 years ago. I now am privileged to have 2 year, 3 year and 5 year return female Rufous hummers at my home. After that we went to a home off of Lake Shore and caught a beautiful male Black-chinned.
From there Fred went to Havana where he caught a male and female Ruby-throated then went to another home near Havana and caught a female Black-chinned.
Final recap for the visit, 22 birds; 9 Rufous, 10 Ruby-throated and 3 Black-chinned.
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