Banded Hummingbird at Welder

On Sunday afternoon, August 10, CONE players at Welder found a banded Buff-bellied Hummingbird – first observed and photographed by birdbrain. We know that the protocol for the project indicates hummingbirds will be banded, but we had not seen a banded hummer before yesterday. I wrote to John Rappole to inquire:

Loughman: Can you tell us whether your group has actually banded hummingbirds at Welder Wildlife Refuge? This afternoon there have been a large number of hummingbird visits to at least one of the feeders at Welder. We have taken pictures of Buff-bellied, Black-chinned, and Ruby-throated hummers. In the last hour, we have seen at least one Buff-bellied Hummingbird with a band on the right leg, and possibly one on the left as well. Is this likely to be one of yours? Your comments appreciated.

Rappole: We have not yet banded any hummingbirds at Welder.

I sent a similar message to Brent Ortego, whom I have met at hummingbird banding conferences, and who lives in Victoria, TX – about 40 miles from Welder:

Loughman: I’m monitoring a remote camera at Welder Wildlife Refuge – I think it is not far from Victoria, TX. This afternoon we saw a banded Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and I immediately thought of you. Is this likely to be one of your birds? The protocol for the project at Welder (P.I. is John Rappole) says that they would band BCHU and BUFH, but we haven’t seen any evidence before today. If you are actually the one doing the banding there, I’d be glad to know anything you can tell me about the program – and I’d pass it on to the 30 or so others who are also monitoring the camera, none of whom are even close to Texas.

Ortego: I have not banded hummingbirds on Welder Wildlife. However, I have banded hundreds of Buff-bellies near Victoria and Rockport. I have heard there was a MAPS banding program at Welder, but those do not normally band hummers. Buff-bellies are starting to leave their breeding grounds in search of areas of very high food concentrations to undergo body molt. The bird you observed might not be a resident of the area. Did you save a video clip of the banded bird and is there possibility of reading the band?

Loughman: Thanks for your prompt response. Unfortunately, the camera resolution is nowhere near good enough to read bands – even on much larger birds. I’m attaching a picture (no.35046) so you can see one of the best! It’s hard to confirm, but there may actually be a band on each leg. I’ve sent an inquiry to Dr. Rappole, but have not yet received a response. If you are interested in learning more about the project, you can read all about it at:

 Ortego: I was not able to determine if there were two bands. There definitely appears to be one. I am not familiar with anybody banding on both legs. I have two adult males (which this bird is) which carry a 2nd band because the first band is so old that the numbers have faded away. One bird is a 12-year-old BUFH. He is due to arrive back at my banding station in September.

Based on our pictures and our “live” observations, I believe this bird (am assuming it was one individual) is banded on both legs (see nos. 35075 and 35076).

One Response to “Banded Hummingbird at Welder”

  1. Rafa says:

    Looking at those and other BUFH shots I have the impression they have light colored tibial feathers. This can make us think there is a band. But a band should be in a lower position in the tarsus, laying on the feet. In my opinion the first shot certainly shows a band on the right leg but I’m not sure about the left one.

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