We spent the first days of August at Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook's Lake near Casscoe, Arkansas where we did extensive training on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds with Bob and Martha Sargent. The facility is located 20 miles southeast of Stuttgart on the White River National Wildlife Refuge. We were very thankful to be able to band in an air-conditioned classroom since the temperatures outside were 107+ degrees with high humidity. The beautiful 72-acre facility is surrounded by a hardwood forest that includes a two-mile long oxbow lake. Yes, there were mosquitoes! We are grateful to Bob and Martha for the opportunity to train with them. Our thanks to the education specialist, Tana Beasley, and staff members Treva and Wayne for the wonderful Arkansas hospitality.
After completing training, we returned to Texas to resume our projects here. Our last MAPS session at the South Concho River Station was successful as we banded sixteen birds including our first southbound migrants for the year. At this session, we banded our tenth Black-and-white Warbler of the season. We continue to suspect this species may have nested at two sites on the Hummer House Ranch.With MAPS and hummingbird training completed for a while, we turned our attention to other projects at the Hummer House Ranch. We had three separate banding sessions for our migration study and continued to band unusual numbers of some birds and some unusual species. We banded three Black-throated Green Warblers. These were the first of this species banded at the Hummer House in more than 10 years. Over the past few years, we have averaged one Bushtit and one Orchard Oriole per year at this location. This year they keep pouring into the nets in record numbers. Least Flycatchers, Willow Flycatchers, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, and Yellow Warblers are being banded in relatively large numbers. As the end of August approached, we were surprised to band two Belted Kingfishers in less than an hour.
Easily, the highlight of the month was the banding of an Allen's Hummingbird at the Hummer House feeders on August 23rd just it turned dark . This bird had been seen at feeders for several days and earlier attempts to trap the bird had not been successful. We were ready to give up for the day when Sue saw the bird go in a trap. This brings to four the number of this species banded in the Concho Valley and only two at the Hummer House. It made for the end a great day of banding. At the very end of the month, Fred Bassett of Montgomery, Alabama and Fred Dietrich of Tallahassee, Florida stopped at the Hummer House as they traveled home from banding in the Davis Mountains. Both are nationally known hummingbird banders. We were happy to assist for a while as they banded and collected data for Fred's western hummingbird project. While there, three Rufous Hummingbirds were banded along with numerous Black-chinned and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. It is always great to see old friends and make new friends while banding.
July Banding ActivitiesThe month of July started as June had ended and rain clouds were not in any weather forecast. We had concerns for the health and safety of the birds as the month started. We continued our work with the MAPS Station on the South Concho River and conducted systematic banding efforts at other locations at the Hummer Ranch. The number of birds encountered at the MAPS Station remained high for this type of effort until the last week of the month when extremely hot temperatures and high winds resulted in the first slow day at the site. However, seventy-six birds were banded at the MAPS site during the month. Black-and-white Warblers continued to be banded there. A Great Crested Flycatcher and an early Louisiana Waterthrush were also visitors to the site.
We also continued our work at other sites on the ranch where we banded additional Black-and-white Warblers, encountered our first Bushtits of the summer and banded a single Brown-crested Flycatcher that was the first of this species to be recorded at the ranch.
During the last week of the month, we traveled to the Allen Ranch near Junction to band hummingbirds. Mrs. Allen has faithfully fed hummingbirds there for many years. In years past, we have never had fewer hummingbirds than we could safely process. We were only able to travel there with a small team for this effort and we were not disappointed in the number of hummingbirds or the hospitality shown by Mrs. Allen, her family and friends. We enjoyed meeting old and new friends there who were more than willing to help us in our efforts. As always, it was a wonderful day for us at that location. The weather was hot but with good shade and a favorable breeze, it was comfortable for birds and banders. We banded seventy-one Black-chinned Hummingbirds, one Ruby-throated Hummingbird and recaptured 18 birds from previous years. We certainly enjoyed all of the interested and interesting people who came to ranch to watch the banding process.We also traveled to Fort Davis where we were fortunate to band several western species of hummingbirds with Kelly Bryan. These species are seldom seen in the Concho Valley. Through his work with these western hummingbirds, Kelly has rewritten what we know about these species, their movements and the numbers present in the Trans Pecos area of Texas. In addition to his contribution to our knowledge, Kelly has been extremely generous with his time and experience as he has trained and assisted bird banders from across the nation. We are grateful to Kelly for sharing his hummingbirds with us. Although we love our Black-chinned Hummingbirds of the Concho Valley, there is something special about seeing and banding Lucifer Hummingbirds, Magnificent Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, Allen's Hummingbirds and all the others that make this such a special place in the hummingbird world. Check out Kelly's website of West Texas Hummingbirds at http://westtexashummingbirds.com .