Summer Banding Adventures
New Species Banded at the Hummer HouseOver the past three banding seasons, fifteen species of new birds and one new hybrid have been added to the records of birds banded at the Hummer House. This raises our total at that location to 150 species and two hybrids. Our current banding year has contributed to these new species with the addition of a Spotted Sandpiper that was banded as part of the MAPS program at the South Concho River Station. Spotted Sandpipers have been present at that site for several years but do not often stay there until the start of our MAPS season. This year was the exception and this species was added to our MAPS species as well as the species banded at the ranch.
That species was joined in late May by a Warbling Vireo that was banded in the Myers Spring area north of the headquarters. Warbling Vireos are considered as accidental visitors to the Concho Valley in late spring and early summer. Members of this species have probably been present at the ranch several times in the past few years but this is our first banding record for this species.
2013 MAPS UpdateThe spring migration season provided better than average numbers of most expected species and several interesting records of birds not often banded in the Concho Valley. Given the excellent breeding season in 2012 and the good migration season, we entered the 2013 MAPS Season with expectations of a good year. The first session on May 11 resulted in good numbers and good species counts of breeding birds along the South Concho River. That was followed by three sessions with lower than average numbers of birds and species at the station. When we reached the middle of June without a major influx of hatching year birds, we became concerned about the breeding success of the birds breeding in our station area. Our fears were relieved in late June and early July when record numbers of hatching year birds emerged all over the MAPS Station area. We replaced the lower than average numbers recorded early in the season with two record sessions in a row during this time. The total breeding success of birds along the South Concho River seems assured as this year's MAPS season starts drawing a close. Bell's Vireos, Vermilion Flycatchers and Rufous-crowned Sparrows are some the species enjoying a record breeding season. Although several interesting records associated with our 2013 MAPS season have emerged, none proves more interesting or unusual than the recapture of an adult male Cooper's Hawk that was originally netted in June of 2011 and recaptured in that same net in late May of 2013.
Hummingbirds at the Hummer HouseThe Black-chinned Hummingbirds are having an excellent breeding season at the Hummer House. Although hatching year birds emerged later than usual there, the number of hatching year birds has matched and surpassed most of the previous four seasons. We have banded well over 700 Black-chinned hummers there through the middle of July and anticipate a total for the year of about 1000. We have also increased our number of documented returns of Black-chinned Hummbingbirds to over 1300 birds. A return is defined as a bird that is banded at the ranch in a particular year, migrates to Western Mexico for the winter and then returns to be recaptured during another season. We have accumulated a great deal of important and interesting data during this season.
We started our hummingbird season in early January when we banded an overwintering Allen's Hummingbird. In April, we attempted to band an adult male Broad-tailed Hummingbird over a period of several days. This male was very trap-shy and never approached a trap but while we were making these attempts, we banded a rare spring migrant Rufous Hummingbird. While banding with Kelly Bryan at the Hummer House in mid June we recaptured a female Black-chinned Hummingbird that was banded by Fred Bassett at Council, Idaho in 2011. Council is 1265 miles direct miles from the Hummer House. This bird has made a least two migration cycles to Mexico and somehow landed at the Hummer House this season.